For Champions League Match Day 2, I watched Arsenal on Tuesday night (more on that later) but Wednesday no real game stood out from the crowd so I decided to watch the BT Sport Goals show, and have to say I would highly recommend it. They present the highlights of each game as they happen, basically like Soccer Saturday, except they can actually show you the goals and the pundits know what they’re talking about (unlike SSN where the highlight is regularly the boys laughing at Kamara getting mixed up between a substitution and a sending off… again).
The English sides were lambasted after a solitary win out of four on Match Day 1, and improved that with two wins this time, meaning they now have a total of 9 points from a possible 24. Not a great return from the richest league in the world and much wailing and gnashing of teeth has ensued.
There’s no doubt that the Premier League sides should be doing better but they have no divine right to be dominant in this competition, as the constant “best league in the world” chat blows up in their faces again. It’s like the nutters you see on X Factor who are awful but devastated when they get put out as their parents have always told them they are the best in the world. In this analogy, Arsenal are the singer, Thierry Henry is their dad, Dynamo Zagreb are Cheryl Cole, Olypiakos are Rita Ora and Bayern Cowell are just about to come in and land the hammer blow utterly shattering their dreams.
Olympiakos came to London with an away record just like Celtic’s: abysmal. They came away 3-2 winners via an unholy hat trick of goals; a deflection, a keeping blunder and a suspiciously offside looking goal just after Sanchez got it back to 2-2, totally taking the wind out of the Londoners’ sails. Qualification now looks a big ask. Bayern on the other hand strolled to a 5-0 win over Zagreb, Lewandowski helping himself to another hat trick, elite athletes gear up so they can perform at their absolute best when it matters most, and Lewandowski is clearly building to his greatest challenge yet – Russell Martin and Grant Hanley.
Chelsea fell 2-1 to a Porto side defying the odds and beating a far richer opponent, just like they used to when Mourinho was in the home dugout. Porto’s first scorer was Andre Andre, the man so good he plays professionally for one of Portugal’s top sides. Kiev defeated Maccabi Tel Aviv 2-0 in Israel, with Yarmolenko scoring, a guy who has been constantly linked with a move to England, but decided he had as good a chance of European glory staying in Kiev. A Ukranian side came closer to European silverware last season than any English team did so he is probably correct.
Roma bust many a coupon falling 3-2 to BATE Borisov, going 3-0 down in quick fashion, pre match much of the talk was the lack of fit out-and-out frontmen with Dzeko and Totti injured, but Szczesny was the real problem, the second goal conceded when he left his goal to wave to his dad in the crowd. Leverkusen came within 10 minutes of a famous win in the Nou Camp versus a Messi-less Barca but late goals from Sergi and a cracker from Suarez sealed the points for the Catalonians
Lyon lost to Valencia and Zenit made it 6 points out of 6 vs Gent. I don’t have much to say about these games as my Sky box saw fit to stop taping before they came on but I’m sure they were classics!
Wednesday night saw a better performance from the English sides with Man Utd winning 2-1 at home to Wolfsburg, they went 1-0 down early to a a nicely worked Caliguiri goal when everyone tried to play offside… except Valencia – you’d think he’s a winger or something! Mata scored a penalty and beautifully set up Smalling for a winner and the Red Devils were off the mark. CSKA went 3-0 up early at home to PSV, Doumbia missing a penalty for 4-0, PSV switched things about, got back to 3-2 then went down to 10, all teams in the group now have 3 points.
Man City tried their best to do a Man City, conceding a penalty (which was missed) and then conceding a goal before coming back to equalise from an Otamendi shot amidst a penalty box stramash and a late Aguero penalty. Juventus registered a straightforward win at home to Seville, Moratta and Zaza scoring. They look like they are improving but at the moment look a bit like Dortmund last season. Awful domestically but boasting a 100% record in Europe.
Nicola Gaitan (another player who seems to be linked with a move every window) inspired Benfica registered a bit of a shock winning in the Calderon, in a game where several Benfica players tried to attack ex-Porto player Jackson Martinez. Can’t think why. In the early kick off, Kazakhstan hosted its first group game and showed it’s the country for goals…. own goals. Astana and Galatasary drew 2-2 with both Astana goals coming from Gala players, one right at the death after the Astana keeper had put Galatasary 2-1 up with 5 minutes to play, infuriating punters who had backed Galatasaray. Punters like me.
Last but not least, PSG and Real Madrid registered routine wins 3-0 away to Shakhtar and 2-0 away to Malmo respectively. PSG were so comfortable David Luiz scored a goal that basically bounced off him and went into the net (the opposition’s luckily) and Ronaldo bagged his 500th and 501st professional goals in Sweden. Their double header is probably the games of the group stage but no matter who wins, expect both to qualify with plenty to spare.