Madrid fell behind to Jasurbek Yakhshiboev‘s header in the first half but Karim Benzema‘s penalty appeared to have spared the blushes of the Spanish giants, only for Thill to snatch an incredible victory.
The result will go down as one of the most surprising in the history of the competition and delivers a significant boost to Sheriff‘s chances of qualifying for the last 16.
They now have six points out of six in Group D, having already beaten Shakhtar Donetsk.
When Sheriff were founded in 1997, Madrid were about to win the seventh of their 13 European Cups.
Sheriff have since won 19 out of the last 21 Moldovan titles including the last six.
Yet upsetting the world’s most prestigious teams is less a football fairytale than a success story for a conglomerate company that controls businesses ranging from a cognac distillery to supermarkets, and a football club.
While Sheriff play in the Moldovan league, they are from Transnistria, a pro-Russian separatist state created after a civil war following the collapse of the Soviet Union.
The territory is effectively run by the Sheriff holding company, which sports a five-pointed sheriff’s star as its logo.
The question marks around the history of the club, however, could not detract from the satisfaction felt by the players, who celebrated the win at the final whistle as if they had won the entire tournament.
Thill, Sheriff’s match-winner, was last year playing on loan at Russian club FC Tambov, who in May were dissolved after declaring themselves bankrupt.