The opening night of this season’s Champions League has seen the first eight games of the competition take place, however, not everything has gone to plan for the big boys.
Young Boys 2-1 Manchester United
Manchester United – bolstered by a summer of big-name arrivals, full of confidence following Saturday’s comfortable league victory over Newcastle, who would have seen this result coming for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Manchester United?
It was the perfect start for the Red Devils in Bern when Cristiano Ronaldo himself reopened his UCL account for the club as he did just about enough to turn home Bruno Fernandes’ outside of the boot cross. United was comfortable and limiting the hosts to shots from range until a moment in the 35th minute shifted the balance of the tie.
Aaron Wan-Bissaka, involved in some promising build-up play down the Manchester United right, overran the ball and was reckless in trying to atone for his heavy touch. The United right back’s studs came down on the ankle of Martins and the referee deemed the act worthy of a straight red card.Embed from Getty Images
Heading into the second period, Solskjaer seemed content with holding onto what he had with the United boss adopting a five at the back formation with Raphael Varane entering the fray. This resistance was broken midway through the second half when Moumi Ngamaleu diverted the ball beyond David De Gea to give his side a well-earned equaliser, much to the delight of the Swiss home faithful.
It wasn’t until the fifth minute of injury time that the Mancunians’ misery was compiled, as Jesse Lingard’s careless back pass put the ball on a plate for Pefok who duly made in 2-1 to the hosts on a special night in the club’s history. This result won’t alter United’s expectations to qualify for the last 16, though the pressure on their matchday two encounters with Villarreal certainly has added pressure now.
The Spanish side entertained Atalanta in a 2-2 draw tonight, a result which leaves Cristiano Ronaldo and Manchester United at the foot of the Group F table.
Chelsea 1-0 Zenit
Unlike their Premier League counterparts, Chelsea managed to avoid an upset in a game of half-chances against Zenit St. Petersburg at Stamford Bridge. Efforts from range a number nearly moments for both sides was the story of the first half and this continued beyond the hour mark.
It was in the 69th minute that the deadlock was finally broken when Romelu Lukaku timed his run to perfection and got on the end of Azpilicueta’s ball to nod past the scrambling Russian keeper.
It was an under-par night for the Blues but managing to get the job done has left them in second position in Group H behind Juventus who did as was expected of them in putting three past Malmo to earn a convincing away victory.
Chelsea will face Juve on matchday two and matchday five in fixtures which may well determine who finishes first and second in this one.
Barcelona 0-3 Bayern Munich
Not quite the 8-2 humiliation of the 2020 quarter-final, nevertheless this was a conclusive win for Bayern who simply outclassed their Catalan opponents over the course of 90 minutes.
Knocking on the door right from the start Bayern were getting closer and closer to scoring as the opening period progressed and it was Thomas Muller who, ten minutes before halftime, finally beat Marc Andre Ter Stegen via the aid of a deflection.Embed from Getty Images
Things went from bad to worse after the interval when the ever-prolific Robert Lewandowski was on hand to tuck the ball away after Musiala’s effort rebounded to the Pole off the upright.
It was Lewandowski who put the final nail in Barca’s coffin, adding a third five minutes from time. Again he was the first to react to the ball hitting the post, this time the big number nine steadied himself before sitting his defender down and lashing it home to secure a result which arguably flattered Barcelona, such was the dominance of the Bavarians on the night
Elsewhere in Group E, Dynamo Kyiv and Benfica played out a dull 0-0 to begin their respective UCL campaigns.
Nothing to separate group G
Neither group G encounter managed to produce a winner leaving all four sides sitting on one point apiece, with everything to play for on matchday two.
Sevilla, arguably the favourites in this group of mid-tier European outfits, were put under real pressure by RB Salzburg. The game, which finished 1-1 was far more controversial than it may seem. In a tale of four penalties, neither side managed to grab all three points.
It was Salzburg who was awarded three spot-kicks in the first half and with Adeyemi missing the target with the first, Sucic took matters into his own hands and buried the second to give the Austrians the advantage.
However, even he couldn’t keep his cool when the third penalty was given, seeing his attempt to double the lead come back off the post, much to Sevilla’s relief.
There was still time before the break for Sevilla to earn a penalty of their own via a VAR intervention. Ivan Rakitic stepped up and stroked in the equaliser to conclude a manic 45 minutes of football.
The drama wasn’t done there though. Five minutes into the second half, En-Nesyri tried to con the officials and took a dive that wouldn’t have looked out of place at this Summer’s Olympic games. He received his second booking and was given his marching orders. The score remained level in perhaps the most bizarre match of the round so far.
The clash between Lille and Wolfsburg was not without controversy itself, after Jonathan David put the ball in the net, only for the video assistant to rule that the ball had gone out of play earlier in the sequence. John Brooks was dismissed in the second half for a second bookable offence. Despite this, Lille couldn’t find a winner and the tie ended 0-0.