Emmanuel Dennis was in complete awe of the Bernabéu when he and his Club Brugge teammates took a tour of the iconic stadium on the eve of their game against Real Madrid.
“How many thousand capacity,” Dennis is seen asking his Club Brugge teammate and compatriot David Okereke in a Youtube clip.
“81,000 bro,” he said after searching on the internet on his phone.
“Santiago Bernabeu, this is a dream. A lot of people didn't even think they would come here to play,” the Super Eagles forward said afterwards.
“If I score then I will get a tattoo on my skin, bro.”
Champions League brace
The following night, it seems it was premonition in play as the 21-year-old went on to net a brace in Club Brugge’s 2-2 draw against Real Madrid.
It was a fantastic performance from the Nigerian striker who stunned the Bernabeu twice in the first half and gave the central defensive partnership of Raphaël Varane and Sergio Ramos a torrid night.
Dennis didn't do much for most part of the game as Real Madrid controlled the game but he was clinical with two goals from three shots on tar
First was in the ninth minute with a quick transition from the back which led to Tacy Pau being played in from the left. Pau’s cross found Dennis in the Real Madrid’s 18-yard-box alone with the goalkeeper but he almost missed the chance after he tripped and fell but luckily for him, the miscue went past Thibaut Courtois for his first goal of the game.
After another large period of dominance by Real Madrid, Dennis stunned the Bernabéu again with his second goal. It came in the 39th minute after he intercepted a pass from Luca Modric to run on goal. Just like he did before the first goal, he stumbled while he ran into the box but kept his composure this time to chip the ball past an onrushing Courtois.
To further rile up the Bernabéu crowd, the Nigeria international celebrated like Cristiano Ronaldo. Knowing the way Ronaldo left Real Madrid in 2018, the celebration would have not gone down well with the home crowd.
Real Madrid kept up the pressure and stage wave after wave of attack on Club Brugge but in the 53rd minute, he also scored again to get what would have been a famous hattrick.
Ramos gave the ball away in Club Brugge’s half but Dennis was quick to it and ran towards Real Madrid’s goal. He feigned a shot to get past Varane but Alphonse Areola who had come in for Courtois was quick off his line to block his effort.
He was very unfortunate not to have gotten his hattrick and the goal that would have killed the tie. The quality of his run and his dribble past Varane deserved a goal, but that didn't happen. He would rue that chance as Real Madrid came back to force a 2-2 draw.
Dennis should be proud of himself nonetheless. He has come to one of the most iconic stadiums in world football and delivered an impressive performance against one of the biggest sports sides in the world.
With just 32 touches all game, the Nigerian scored two goals from just three shots on target. He managed three successful dribbles out of six, had eight accurate passes, two long passes, won five of his 14 tackles and two of his three aerial duels.
It was also a performance that has increased his popularity in Nigeria. Despite having played a game for the Super Eagles, the 21-year-old was still an unknown player.
Super Eagles coach Gernot Rohr will be pleased with the performance of the forward. He had been criticised for giving a call-up to Dennis instead of Okekere who has had a better start to the season with Club Brugge.