Match day 3 of the Champions League brought a big shock, not a single defeat for English sides, two decent away draws and two home wins one against Europe’s form team made for much better viewing for our friends over the border.
Undoubtedly the big result of the round was Arsenal’s 2-0 home win over Bayern Munich. The first win for an English team in the Champions League against a Guardiola team. The game was very much a game which contradicted the expectations from these teams so far this season, Arsenal defended well and Cech made some great saves, Bayern failed to score, Neuer made a terrible mistake leading to Giroud handling in via a dirty big boot into the box. A result very much needed for Arsenal and gets them back in the running to make the last 16. Dinamo Zagreb returned to their usual selves and fell to a Brown Ideye goal vs Olympiakos, who go joint top with Munich on 6 points. Arsenal can hurt Munich on the break in Germany so looks any two from three going through at the moment.
Chelsea travelled to Kiev, drawing 0-0 in a game where Mourinho could rightly blame the ref for once, a blatant penalty not given for a foul on Fabregas, a decent enough point away though and should still qualify along with a Porto side who beat group whipping boys Maccabi Tel Aviv 2-0 to remain unbeaten.
Messi-less Barcelona travelled to BATE and won 2-0 with two cracking goals from classy Croat Ivan Rakitic. A player described by the analysts on BT Sport as “one of Barca’s lesser known players” – he scored in last year’s final for crying out loud! The game of the round was undoubtedly the 4-4 draw between Leverkusen and Roma, Bayer went two up through Chicharito, Roma then hitting back with a De Rossi double, a superb free kick from Miralem Pjanic and one from Iago Falque (remember him, Spurs fans?) before Leverkusen struck back, probably a better point for Roma overall.
There’s only one team with 3 wins from 3 so far and its Zenit St. Petersburg! Well done if you predicted that. Alexandre Lacazette’s beautiful back heeled flick really deserved more than to simply be a consolation but 3 goals from Zenit including another Hulk(net)buster left the Russians with one foot in the last 16. Gent had 3 players on the scoresheet at the Mestalla, sadly they followed on from Galatasaray last week and two of those were own goals, leaving them defeated 2-1.
Man City won their second game against Sevilla, again coming from behind with a late winner leaving them second in the group, it’s like they seem determined to make an arse of things any time they play in Europe but are at least now starting to turn it around after going behind. Juventus and Monchengladbach drew a blank in Turin, still any two from four here.
Martial took centre stage in Moscow for Man Utd, giving away a penalty (desperately unlucky from De Gea who saved, then deflected off his foot into path of Doumbia who easily slotted home) then equalising with a great header. The fans had a banner saying “The Exorcist”: it’s unclear if they referred to Van Gaals ghostly coupon or the decrepit, undead sex workers Wazza is fond off. PSV crashed to another away day defeat at Germany’s top emission cheats Wolfsburg, again, anyone can qualify from here.
Probably the biggest game of the round saw an under-strength Real Madrid travel to PSG, a game the Parisians must have fancied winning looking at the teams, but as is often the case with these encounters the anticipation was far better than the fact, Real coming away with a comfortable 0-0 and confidence boosted considering who was absent. Malmo got off the board with a 1-0 home win to Shakhtar, good luck to Malmo, I’m over it now… eventually.
Last but not least Atletico strolled home against Astana 4-0 with Saul scoring what would normally be backheel of the week if not for Lacazette, and Galatasaray coming back from a lovely early Gaitan goal to beat Benfica 2-1, with Lukas Podolski of all people grabbing the winner.
A good round over all with a few drab games, check out the goals from Miralem Pjanic, Alexandre Lacazette, Saul Ñíguez, Nico Gaitan, Ivan Rakitic and that man Hulk if you haven’t already.
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