Tuesday and Wednesday night saw the return of European club football with the prestigious UEFA Champions’ League competition getting underway and some of Europe’s finest teams participating in the tournament. Here, AFEfootballnews’ gives you a closer look at some of the results, stand out players and also what you may have missed out on this week.
Tuesday, 13th of September, 2016.
Paris Saint Germain (France) 1-1 Arsenal (England)
Arsenal clawed their way to the top of their group on goal difference as they managed to fight to an away draw at the Parc Des Princes. Edinson Cavani had given PSG the lead after just 45 seconds of the game as the Gunners’ defence looked shaken. After that, PSG continued to attack but rarely threatened and Cavani wasted several chances to increase the scoreline. In the second half, Arsenal began to find their rhythm and equalised on 78 minutes when Alexis Sanchez buried the ball into the bottom of the net. Olivier Giroud and Marco Verratti were both later sent off during the match for appearing to grapple with one another. Arsenal’s second choice goalkeeper, David Ospina was AFEfootballnews’ man of the match as he put in a sparkling performance to deny the Parisian side anything more than a point.
Basel (Switzerland) 1-1 Ludogorets Razgrad (Bulgaria)
In Group A’s slightly less glamorous but by no means less important match, Basel and Ludogorets Razgrad played out a 1-1 draw and proved that they’ll be no pushovers in this group. Razgrad had taken the lead through Cafu (no not that one), before Basel managed to find a late equaliser through Renato Steffen to see the group fully tied on 1 point each.
Arsenal and PSG will be everyone’s favourites to progress from this group by a mile there’s no doubt, but Basel and Razgrad could be awkward customers, particularly away from home.
Benfica (Portugal) 1-1 Besiktas (Turkey)
Madness ensued in this one, as Benfica man Anderson Talisca on loan at Besiktas, scored a dramatic last minute free kick euqaliser against them at the Estadio De Luz to ruin the party for the Portuguese side. Argentinian Franco Cervi had put the hosts ahead early on and it looked as thought they were heading for a routine three points, but Talisca ensured that that wasn’t to be.
Dynamo Kiev (Ukraine) 1-2 Napoli (Italy)
New signing Arkadiusz Milik has began to ease Napoli fans worries of losing star striker Gonzalo Higuain to Juventus in the summer, by finding goals of his own and he scored both in their away win at Kiev on Tuesday night. The hosts went 1-0 up in the 26th minute when midfielder Garmash finished coolly. It wasn’t long before the Serie A side hit back though as on 36 minutes it was 1-1 when Milik rose unmarked to meet a header at the back post, directing it past Kiev keeper Shovkovskiy and in. He then made it 1-2 just before the break with another header.
Napoli lead the chase in what could be a very tight group indeed come match week 6.
Barcelona (Spain) 7-0 Celtic (Scotland)
Many had expected this. For the first time this season, Barca’s epic trio of Messi, Neymar and Saurez played alongside each other and they certainly did not disappoint, as they totally wiped the floor with Celtic.
The Catalan giants were ahead after just 3 minutes as Lionel Messi scored the 84th Champions League goal of his career. Celtic had a chance to equalise from the spot , but Mousa Dembele’s penalty was saved by Marc Andre Ter-Stegen and that was arguably the turning point in this one. the rest went as follows: Messi 27′, Neymar 50′, Iniesta 59′, Messi 60′, Suarez 75′, Suarez 88′. A ruthless performance saw Barca make their intentions well and truly clear to every other team in the tournament.
Bayern Munich (Germany) 5-0 FC Rostov (Russia)
In another ruthless performance, German champions Bayern Munich were at their usual classy best against Russian minnows Rostov, cruising their way to a 5-0 win at the Allians Arena. They took the lead on 28 minutes when Robert Lewandowski converted a penalty and dominated for the remainder of the game. Thomas Muller made it 2-0 just before half time, Joshua Kimmich scored a brace and Juan Bernat added a stoppage time goal to complete the rout.
PSV Eindhoven (Holland) 0-1 Atletico Madrid (Spain)
Last season’s losing finalists Atletico Madrid marked their return to the competition with a less than convincing win away in Eindhoven. It could have been so different for the home side too as they had Luuk De Jong’s fifth minute strike ruled out for the striker being judged to be offside and Andres Guardado missed a penalty and a chance to equalise just before half time. Saul Niguez got the winning goal for Atletico, but news signings Kevin Gameiro and Nicolas Gaitan were poor in this one.
Both Bayern and Atletico will most probably battle it out for top and second spaces in this group, barring any highly unlikely magic from PSV or Rostov.
Wednesday, 14th of September, 2016.
Manchester City 4-0 Borussia Monchengladbach
After having their match postponed on Tuesday night due to horrendous storms and awful weather in Manchester, this game at the Etihad was rearranged for the Wednesday night and City fans were not disappointed (although Glabach fans must have been after spending an extra night in Manchester just to see their team played off the field).
Segio Aguero was superb on the night, bagging a hat-trick before young Nigerian striker added the fourth deep into extra time, to ensure a highly convincing win for Guardiola’s men as they look to finally challenge on the biggest stage of them all.
City will surely fancy their chances of qualifying from the group after this week’s results, although Barcelona will probably top it.
Bayer Leverkusen (Germany) 2-2 CSKA Moscow (Russia)
A thrilling first half saw CSKA fight their way back from 2-0 away at Leverkusen. Admir Mehmedi and Hakan Calhanoglu had initially given the Bundesliga side a powerful start and a two goal lead after just 15 minutes of the match. However, a CSKA resurrection was on the cards and they struck two goals in as many minutes through Dzagoev and Eremenko to bounce back in style. A tense second half followed, but both teams were just to good for one another and a draw was the right result here.
Tottenham Hotspur (England) 1-2 AS Monaco (France)
Tottenham got off to an awful start on their return to Champions League football as they crashed to a defeat at makeshift home stadium Wembley, at the hands of Monaco. Monaco winger Bernardo Silva them in front before fellow winger Thomas Lemar double the score just after the half hour mark. Toby Alderweireld scored for Spurs before the break, but in truth the North London side never looked like making anything of it on the night.
It will be tough for Spurs to find their way through this group now as the other teams are arguably just as strong as them on their day, so they’ll have to be at their very best from here on out to progress.
Legia Warsaw (Poland) 0-6 Borussia Dortmund (Germany)
Borussia Drotmund put in a tireless display to utterly dismantle a poor Legia Warsaw team away from home earning themselves their biggest ever away win in a European competition in the process. Three goals in the first half (Gotze 7′, Papastathopolous 15′, Bartra 17′) and three in the second half (Guerreiro 51′, Castro 76′, Aubameyang 87′) rounded off a wonderful display for the German side.
Crowd troubles followed the match as Warsaw fans rioted against police within the stadium. Action is now being taken against the club who have been handed a seemingly impossible group to progress from.
Real Madrid (Spain) 2-1 Sporting Lisbon (Portugal)
Incredibly, Sporting Lisbon were just five minutes or so away from earning themselves a famous away win at the Bernabeu, but completely bottled it in the dying moments of the match. Bruno Cesar had given Sporting a surprising lead after the interval, which seemed to have stunned Madrid right until the 89th minute when Cristiano Ronaldo, THE product of Lisbon’s youth system many moon’s ago, returned to haunt them. A draw would have been bad enough for the Portuguese side after there heroic display, but right at the very end Spanish striker Alvaro Morata popped up to head home the winning goal. Cruel on Sporting, but this just goes to show that you just can’t underestimate the power of Madrid at any point during the game.
It looks as though Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund will dominate this group, but keep an eye on Sporting, as they could be a potential banana skin for the big two especially when they’re going to be playing at home.
Club Brugge (Belgium) 0-3 Leicester City (England)
Leicester City’s heroics of last season’s Premier League title winning campaign earned them a spot in the Champions League for the first time and they certainly didn’t disappoint. Their first ever scorer in the competition was a fairly unlikely one as winger Marc Albrighton gave the Foxes the lead after just five minutes of the match. Two goals from last season’s PFA Player of the Year, Riyad Mahrez followed, including a fabulous free kick and a cool penalty conversion to settle any doubts over this one.
FC Porto (Portugal) 1-1 Copenhagen (Denmark)
Group favourites Porto were held to a draw at home to Copenhagen, who are most likely to finish bottom of the group according to most experts. Porto midfielder Otávio scored the opener just 13 minutes into his UEFA Champions League debut before Andreas Cornelius, who was guilty of an earlier miss, nodded in the equaliser after half-time. Copenhagen even had Gregus sent off after half time but managed to hold on for a point.
Leicester will be fancied to progress now as their win away at Brugge and the fact that Porto were held to a draw at home has put them in a strong position to qualify into the next round.
Juventus (Italy) 0-0 Sevilla (Spain)
Two giants of the game, one very boring contest if the truth be told. This really did have the potential to be the game of the round in all fairness, but just didn’t live up to expectation at all. Gonzalo Higuain came closest to breaking the deadlock when he struck the bar with a header on 59 minutes. Both teams will probably still be fancied by many to go through to the next round though.
Lyon (France) 3-0 Dinamo Zagreb (Croatia)
Lyon proved that they can hack it without star man Lacazette (who’s out injured) as they put Zagreb to the sword with a fine display. Goals from Tolisso, Ferri and Cornet sealed the Croatian’s side’s fate, who now have an absolute mountain to climb if they are to stand any chance of progressing from this group.
Now here’s what you may have missed/not known before now …
Copenhagen are match day one specialists – The Danish side have actually never failed to pick up a point on match day one and their latest result against Porto means that that record continues.
Neymar provided four assists against Celtic, whilst Andres Iniesta scored his first goal in 36 games in a European competition.
Juventus extended their unbeaten home run in UEFA competitions to 18 games. However, Bundesliga side Leverkusen are now unbeaten at home in Europe since November 2014, incredible!
Lyon will feel that they have had a turn around in fortune at home. The French side lost all three home group stage games last season, but have now picked up three points already in this year’s competition.
And finally the comedy gold award of the week goes to …
Borussia banter, Monchengladbach’s official Twitter page praying for another storm as their team went 3-0 down to Man. City:
That’s it for this week, join AFEfootballnews once again on the 28th of September for more Champions League round ups!
(All pictures and statistics/results taken from Champions League website)