What a difference a year makes. after losing both group stage matches against Shakhtar Donetsk in the UEFA Champions League last season, Real Madrid have turned things around. Not only that, Karim Benzema helped Los Blancos become the first team to score 1000 goals in the European Cup/Champions League since the tournament's inception.

On Wednesday, Shakhtar Donetsk visited the Santiago Bernabeu in the return leg of their Group D encounter in this season's tournament. Real Madrid won their first clash (5-0) against Shakhtar this season in the Ukraine last month, and sought further redemption by securing a 2-1 victory on Wednesday.

It was a special victory not only because Los Blancos wanted to put last season's nightmare behind them, but they came into the match with 999 Champions League goals. Bookies were busy with fans trying to predict if a Real Madrid player would make history at the Santiago Bernabeu on Wednesday, and perhaps it was always expected that Karim Benzema would be the man to do the job.

The Frenchman joined the ranks of club legends like Alfredo di Stefano (100th European Cup/UCL goal), Ferenc Puskas (200), David Beckham (600) and Cristiano Ronaldo who scored both the 800th and 900th Champions League goals for the club.

Vinicius Jr. was also a strong contender, after having also been in fine scoring form all season. He scored a brace against Elche in La Liga over the weekend, but the midweek European glory was meant for Benzema. Even the young Brazilian appeared to know this, as he selflessly fed the Frenchman for a tap-in milestone goal after 14 minutes.

Shakhtar fought back and scored an equaliser in the 39th minute, and the match was at a stalemate as the half-time whistle blew. In the second half, the hosts went back on the pitch amid the boos and whistles of a restless crowd at the Santiago Bernabeu. Benzema then answered the critics as he scored the winner in the 61st minute, which was also the club's 1001st UCL goal.

Carlo Ancelotti's side had to fight hard for the three points as the Ukrainians continued to threaten Thibaut Courtois' goal. The crowd was clearly tense, but in the end Benzema's brace was enough to put Real Madrid at the top of the Group D table. They will be looking forward to facing Sheriff Tiraspol on matchday 5, where they will also be waiting to exact revenge on the minnows who dealt them a shock defeat in their first meeting.

Karim Benzema
Karim Benzema scored twice for Real Madrid, including his club's 1000th European Cup goal AFP / PIERRE-PHILIPPE MARCOU