Matchday 1 of the UEFA Champions League brought with it exhilarating drama, end-to-end action and some surprising results as the who’s who of European football met in the most prestigious club competition on the continent.
Manchester City cruised to a record win against Leipzig, Chelsea started their title defence in victorious fashion and Paris Saint-Germain’s star-studded squad in Belgium were held to a draw by Club Brugge.
As the curtain draws on a seemingly crazy midweek of Champions League football in Europe after the conclusion of matchday 1, FootTheBall brings to you a lowdown of all the major events that occurred in the top tier of European football.
1) BAYERN MUNICH A FORCE TO BE RECKONED WITH
The Bavarians won 3-0 at the Camp Nou even though it wasn’t a dominant display by the German side, but it was enough to overcome a Barcelona team that looked like a shadow of its former self.
Robert Lewandowski scored a brace with Thomas Muller adding the other goal for Die Roten in the Catalan capital as Barcelona were unable to find even a single shot on target in the entire 90 minutes.
2) CHELSEA BEGIN TITLE DEFENCE IN PERFECT FASHION
Thomas Tuchel has at last found the final piece of the jigsaw at Stamford Bridge it seems with the arrival of Lukaku from Inter Milan. The Belgian has now scored 3 goals in 2 appearances at Stamford Bridge in London after his goal for the Blues against Zenit St. Petersburg in the British capital on matchday 1 of the Champions League.
The Belgian met a cross from Cesar Azpilicueta that he nodded home from close range to begin Chelsea’s campaign with an important win in the Champions League as they seek to defend their title against tournament favourites like Manchester City and Bayern Munich.
3) ‘JACK OF ALL TRADES’ IMPRESSES ON UCL DEBUT
Jack Grealish made his long-awaited debut in the Champions League with Manchester City as the Citizens won in a nine-goal thriller in England against a depleted RB Leipzig side sans Marcel Sabitzer, Dayot Upamecano and former manager Julian Nagelsmann.
The Englishman who was the subject of the most expensive transfer concerning a British football player did not disappoint as he got on the scoresheet during the 6-3 win at the Etihad Stadium along with delivering an assist earlier in the match to cap off a memorable evening in Europe’s premier club competition.
4) WEST HAM REJECT SCORES FOUR ON OPENING NIGHT IN UCL
Sebastian Haller was rejected by West Ham United after a two-year spell in London where he scored 10 goals in 48 appearances for the Hammers. However, he went to the Netherlands as he joined Ajax in Amsterdam and he has been a revelation, to say the least.
🥶 Players to score FOUR goals on their Champions League debut:
— UEFA Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) September 15, 2021
The former Eintracht Frankfurt player has scored 3 goals in 6 games in the Eredivisie and the icing on the cake was surely when he scored 4 goals on his Champions League debut with Ajax as they visited Sporting CP in Lisbon to kickstart their European campaign with an emphatic victory.
5) ATLETICO HELD BY PORTO IN MADRID
Atletico Madrid had to be content with only a solitary point from their opening fixture in this season’s Champions League against Porto at home, which was perhaps the easiest fixture for them in a group that also contains the likes of Liverpool and AC Milan.
— UEFA Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) September 15, 2021
Diego Simeone’s charges came close on multiple occasions in the Spanish capital, but the Portuguese side held their ground until the end at the Wanda Metropolitano while also venturing forward themselves as they secured a hard-fought draw against one of the top sides in Europe.
6) LIVERPOOL COME FROM BEHIND AT ANFIELD
In the other match of Group B, Liverpool overcame a spirited AC Mian side that was playing sans Zlatan Ibrahimovic in England. Trent Alexander-Arnold opened the scoring for the Reds at Anfield via a deflected effort from close range that bundled into the net.
Mohamed Salah missed a penalty, but later made amends by getting on the scoresheet in Liverpool alongside Jordan Henderson who executed a wondrous strike from a deflected, stray ball following a Liverpool corner to win the match 3-2 for Liverpool after AC Milan had gone in front courtesy of Ante Rebic and Brahim Diaz.
7) YOUNG BOYS TOPPLE THE PECKING ORDER IN EUROPE
Young Boys won their first match of the Champions League campaign in the most dramatic fashion courtesy of a 90+5th minute effort from Theoson Siebatcheu after a glaring error from Jesse Lingard when he passed backwards to David de Gea.
Unser Spielbericht zum grossen YB-Sieg gegen Man. United! 💛🖤
— BSC YOUNG BOYS (@BSC_YB) September 14, 2021
Cristiano Ronaldo had earlier given the lead to the Red Devils in Switzerland’s capital city of Bern, only for right-back Aaron Wan-Bissaka’s red card to change the tide in the Swiss champions’ favour.
8) JUVENTUS BRUSH ASIDE MALMO IN SWEDEN
La Vecchia Signora started their post-Ronaldo era in the Champions League with a thumping victory against minnows Malmo in Scandinavia. Paulo Dybala converted a penalty and either side of him Alex Sandro along with Alvaro Morata scored for the Italian giants in Sweden.
Massimiliano Allegri can take heart from this performance in Malmo after their loss to Napoli earlier in the Italian Serie A in the wake of their Portuguese talisman’s departure from Piedmont.
9) REAL MADRID LEAVE IT LATE TO WIN IN MILAN
Real Madrid left it very, very late to win the match at the San Siro in Milan to mark Carlo Ancelotti’s return to Italy’s fashion capital with Real Madrid. Both sides had even chances throughout the game, but it was Eduardo Camavinga – Real Madrid’s latest acquisition – who helped set up Brazilian Rodrygo in the 89th minute to win the game for Los Blancos in Italy.
Real Madrid climbed to second place, behind debutants Sheriff Tiraspol who won 2-0 at home against Shakhtar Donetsk to go to the summit of their group.
10) THE TAMING OF LES PARISIENS
In the city of Brugge in Belgium, everyone was waiting for the trio of Messi, Neymar and Mbappe to take to the pitch and enchant everyone with their dazzling and otherworldly displays. But, Club Brugge fought tooth and nail with Les Parisiens to force a draw in their opening group stage match.
None of Paris Saint-Germain’s attacking trio managed to get a goal, with Kylian Mbappe leaving the pitch in pain after apparently hurting one of his toes while being shoved and tackled by Club Brugge players.
— Club Brugge KV (@ClubBrugge) September 16, 2021
PSG’s defence looked utterly frail whenever Brugge ventured forward and an apparent disconnect between midfield and attack prevented Les Parisiens from clicking into gear in Belgium.
Neymar was dogged by defenders who didn’t let him escape from their grasp all night – something that led the Brazilian to switch from the left flank to the right on multiple occasions.
Meanwhile, Messi tried to find a way through, but could only find the crossbar in the first half before skewing a shot too high in the air late on in the game as the Brugge fans celebrated their way to a draw that almost felt like a victory, both literally and metaphorically.