CHAMPIONS LEAGUE MD2 ROUNDUP: MESSI OPENS HIS PSG ACCOUNT, RONALDO SCORED ANOTHER LATE WINNER, ATLETICO LEAVE IT LATE AGIAN AND MORE
To drive away the midweek blues, Champions League was back again. Champions League, The world’s greatest club competition’s second matchday was another thing of beauty. It produced entertaining football, high octane games and most importantly, memorable upsets.
The second matchday of the Champions League kicked off with a dour 0-0 draw between Inter and Shakthar. Still, it picked pace almost instantly as PSG went head to head with Manchester City. In an iconic game, Lionel Messi opened his account for the Parisians. It was followed by what could possibly be the biggest upset in the history of the Champions League as Sheriff beat Real Madrid at the Bernabeu.
On Wednesday, another round of interesting matches followed as Cristiano Ronaldo produced another moment of magic to help Manchester United beat Villarreal late in the game. European Champions Chelsea were beaten by Juventus away from home. To continue their adverse slump, Barcelona were thumped 3-0 away by Benfica. Bayern Munich blew away Dynamo Kyiv to prove their title credentials.
FootTheBall brings you a comprehensive round-up of the second matchday of the UEFA Champions League campaign.
1) WARNING SIGNS FOR INTER
Inter might be the defending champions of Italy, but they are showing no signs of it Europe. The Scudetto holders are winless after two games in their Group-D. In fact, this isn’t a surprise as Inter failed to click in the Champions League even under Antonio Conte. The enigmatic manager never made it to the knockouts despite finishing as the runner up and the champions in the Italian league.
— Inter 🏆🇮🇹 (@Inter_en) September 28, 2021
Conte sacrificed the Champions league at times and it was expected that Inzaghi would change it. But after an indifferent start in the league, it carried over into the continental competition. Inter suffered a hard-fought game against Real Madrid. They were held goalless against Shakthar as well. With only a single point to their name and no goals scored, it is looking ominous for Inter again. They go up against a buoyant Sheriff next time and need to find their shooting boots.
2) LEO OPENS HIS ACCOUNT
It had been coming. You know it was only a matter of time before Lionel Messi opened his PSG account. Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola said before the game that there’s only one best and it was Lionel Messi. And Messi took it personally to please his ex-manager. The iconic Argentine scored a peach of a goal to settle the contest against City.
PSG were under pressure after a draw against Club Brugge in the opener. A win was needed and the star front three of Messi, Neymar and Mbappe delivered. Manchester City were in good form having beaten Chelsea 1-0 in the league. But it wouldn’t count for much as they performed horribly in front of the goal. Idriss Gueye opened the scoring in the first half following Mbappe’s cutback.
PSG held on to their lead and Lionel Messi did what he does best 20 minutes from time. He picked the ball up at the halfway line and dribbled to the edge of the box before exchanging passes with Mbappe and curling a beautiful strike past Ederson. And he flew off into his iconic celebration to mark the start of a new era in Paris.
3) LIVERPOOL ARE BACK
The warning signs were there to be seen. But Liverpool needed a solid performance to announce their comeback. And it ironically came at the place where they enjoy the most. Estadio do Dragao is Liverpool’s happy hunting ground in the Champions League and they had the last laugh once again.
Bobby ⚽️⚽️ pic.twitter.com/eGSSHug8lN
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) September 28, 2021
Porto were put to the sword by a clinical Liverpool side who put on a five-star performance. Mohamed Salah scored a brace and Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino, the famed front three were all on target. Despite injuries in the midfield and defence, they managed to outclass a dogged Porto. They will look to keep this up when Manchester City visit them this weekend in the league.
4) ATLETICO LEAVE IT LATE, AGAIN!
The champions of Spain are becoming a notorious team of late. Despite performing well for the majority of the game, they are going behind. But they are becoming masters of turning the tables late on in the game. They scored a number of late goals in the league to salvage games.
Never. Stop. Believing. 🔴⚪️ pic.twitter.com/MIjOTKH15H
— Atlético de Madrid (@atletienglish) September 28, 2021
They brought that habit into the Champions League as well. Milan scored early in the first half through Rafael Leao but had to deal with Franck Kessie’s red card at the 30-minute mark. They defended resolutely till the 80th-minute mark. Atletico then turned the heat up as Antoine Griezmann scored the first goal of his second spell. Luis Suarez then converted a stoppage-time penalty to clinch three points from a heartbroken Milan.
This late technique works well and good when results go in their favour. Diego Simeone must also make sure that his men turn up early in the game as well.
5) THE BIGGEST UPSET
Sheriff Tiraspol arrived at Santiago Bernabeu with dreamy eyes. For the players playing Moldovan first division, it must’ve felt like a holiday to the museum of football. But the players took it a little seriously apart from vacationing.
Carlo Ancelotti’s rotated Real Madrid side were asking questions to which the Sheriff defence responded sternly. Coming alive on the counter, Yakhshibaev drew first blood. Though Madrid equalized through a Karim Benzema penalty, it wasn’t enough. Sebastien Thill scored a world-class volley a minute from stoppage time to seal three points.
This might be the biggest upset in the history of the Champions League.
6) TITLE CONTENDERS FOR REAL
Bayern Munich were beaten by PSG in the quarter-finals last term. They were gutted especially as they were the defending champions last time out. This campaign they made their cause as title favourites very clear in the opening two rounds. Bayern thrashed old foes Barcelona 3-0 in their opener.
— UEFA Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) September 29, 2021
Yes, Dynamo Kyiv aren’t a superior opponent. But the way Bayern routed them speaks volumes about them. They never got out of their training gear but still, put five past their opponents. Robert Lewandowski scored a quickfire brace to end the contest in the first half itself. Bayern added gloss to the scoreline with three in the second half. Especially Leroy Sane’s goal stood out. It’s good for Bayern to see the German winger catching form at the right time.
7) BARCA HIT A NEW LOW
As Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez scored for their new teams a day earlier, Barca were hoping that someone would step up for them. Sadly, the Catalans were left reeling after another damaging 3-0 loss in the group stages. Despite their bad form, any Barcelona side were supposed to beat Benfica. Especially to pick their first points after Bayern thrashed them 3-0 at home.
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) September 29, 2021
Things didn’t pan according to the plan as Darvin Nunez scored a fantastic effort fooling both Eric Garcia and Ter Stegen just two minutes into the game. Barcelona were toothless in the attack even though they created chances. Benfica scored two more times in the second half to seal a comprehensive victory.
After two games and two 3-0 losses, Barcelona are looking at a grim future in the tournament if Ronald Koeman fails to turn things around.
How many times have we seen it? We probably lost count of Ronaldo scoring last-minute goals to win games. In all honesty, we wouldn’t get tired of it ever to see the Portuguese hit his favourite celebration after scoring the winner. Ronaldo’s winner saved Manchester United’s blushes as they registered their first victory of the season.
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) September 29, 2021
Make no mistake that a win meant United were the better team. Villarreal dictated the proceedings and even scored through Paco Alcacer in the second half. But their inability to put the game to the bed hurt them. Ole Solskajer was again saved by two flashes of individual brilliance, from Telles first and then Ronaldo. The results paper over the cracks but Ole knows he is running out of time to get the best out of his squad.
For now, he can thank Ronaldo who has proved he is Mr Champions League again.
9) CHAMPS GET A TASTE OF THEIR OWN MEDICINE
Chelsea under Thomas Tuchel have a unique identity. As described by Pep Guardiola, they have three centre-backs, two wing-backs and screened by two defensive midfielders. Credit to Tuchel for making this a winning formation with slickness in transitions. They conquered Europe with this tactic and look a reckoning force in the Premier League.
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) September 29, 2021
But on the second matchday in the Champions League, they tasted their own medicine. Juventus happily surrendered the ball to Chelsea and sat back all day. The Londoners were unable to break down a resolute Juventus defence and paid price in the second half. Seconds after the restart they were caught napping as Federico Chiesa hammered home from close range to win the game.
With 73% possession to their name, Chelsea couldn’t score once. Juventus without the ball had the last laugh like Chelsea of the previous season.
10) THE BEST OF THE REST
In other clashes, the high flying Sebastien Haller was on target again as Ajax cruised past Besiktas. Club Brugge continued their excellent start to the campaign by beating RB Leipzig. Leipzig after taking the lead early on fell to their second defeat of the season. Jesse Marsch is under pressure once again.
Donyell Malen opened his Dortmund account as they beat the Portuguese Champions Sporting at home. Giano Piero Gasperini’s Atalanta won their first game of the season by beating United slayers Young boys. Zenit made light work of Malmo by putting four past them.
— AFC Ajax (@AFCAjax) September 29, 2021
Lille’s poor start to the season continued as Salzburg beat them well through a penalty brace from the impressive Karim Adeyemi. Wolfsburg and Sevilla played out an entertaining 1-1 draw in Germany.
This brings curtains to another excellent second matchday in the Champions League. The players would go back to their leagues before playing an international round of fixtures and return to the competition for the third matchday.