UCL Matchday 1 Roundup: Lewandowski And Lukaku Lightning Fast; Young Boys Start Campaign On A High & Barcelona Stunned In Spain
The famous anthem blared out on the speakers of some of the most prestigious stadiums last night all over Europe as the UEFA Champions League came back alongwith the creme de la creme of football taking on the field all across the continent.
Fans had been waiting for this moment with bated breath since the season began and it would not be wrong to say that it did not disappoint in the least.
With last-gasp action, end-to-end passages of play and a plethora of goals on the first day of matches with respect to matchday 1, everyone will be waiting for the subsequent matches with equal, or much larger, enthusiasm than before.
As the curtain comes down on the first day of action in the UEFA Champions League in 2021-22, FootTheBall brings to you a round-up of everything that transpired on Tuesday night in the most prestigious club competition in Europe.
1) BAYERN BULLY THE BLAUGRANA IN BARCELONA
Every Barcelona fan knew the inevitable that would face them at the end of the evening in the Catalan capital. And their fears came true once again as Bayern Munich romped to another win against the Azulgrana on their own turf in Spain.
A deflected effort from Thomas Muller in the first half along with two predatory goals from Robert Lewandowski were enough to sink Barcelona’s ship at Camp Nou as Die Roten started their Group E campaign with a victory that once again showcased why they are among the favourites to win the tournament this season.
Barcelona, on the other hand, need a long and tedious rebuilding project that would restore them to their former glory back in the days of Pep Guardiola and Luis Enrique’s stewardship.
2) SEVILLA HELD TO A DRAW BY SALZBURG IN SPAIN
Julen Lopetegui’s Sevilla were held to a draw in Spain’s Andalusia autonomous region as Austrian club RB Salzburg displayed their credentials in the Champions League on the opening night.
A mammoth four penalties were awarded in the group stage match – a first in the Champions League – with three of them won by Salzburg’s Karim Adeyemi. The German fluffed the first penalty, which resulted in the Croatian Luka Sucic taking the other two (also missing one) as the Austrians took a 1-0 lead in Spain.
Sucic’s compatriot Ivan Rakitic pegged the score back to 1-1, from yet another penalty before the half-time whistle blew at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium in Seville. The home side lost forward Youssef En-Nesyri to a red card early on in the second half, but held on to secure a point in Andalusia to start their campaign in the Champions League unbeaten.
3) JUVENTUS MAUL MALMO IN SOUTHERN SWEDEN
Paulo Dybala converted a penalty on either side of goals from Alex Sandro and Alvaro Morata in Malmo as Juventus got off to a winning start to go top of Group H ahead of English club Chelsea.
Juventus were coming off a defeat to Napoli in the Italian Serie A and needed to prove a point in this match, and they didn’t disappoint this time in Sweden as they easily won 3-0 in Scandinavia to rubbish talks of a crisis in Turin in the wake of Ronaldo’s departure from Italy.
Massimiliano Allegri got his tactics spot on as La Vecchia Signora raced up to a comfortable win in their opening group game to bolster the entire squad’s confidence ahead of a visit to Turin by current European champions Chelsea.
4) VILLARREAL DENIED WIN BY GRITTY ATALANTA
The Spaniards are playing in the UEFA Champions League by virtue of winning the Europa League last season in Poland. And they opened their Champions League campaign with a spectacular 2-2 draw against Italian side Atalanta.
Juan Musso denied ten-man Villarreal victory in their opening game of the Champions League with a stunning save late into the game in Spain. Remo Freuler had put the Italians ahead only for Manu Trigueros to equalise for the Spaniards.
Arnaut Danjuma then gave the lead to the hosts on the Iberian peninsula, only for German defender Robin Gosens to once again restore parity in the match for Gian Piero Gasperini’s charges.
Gerard Moreno was kept out late on as Atalanta held on to secure a point and start their campaign with a rather encouraging performance.
5) LUKAKU LIGHTS UP LONDON ON OPENING NIGHT
Thomas Tuchel needed a forward who would score goals at a consistent rate and would also ease the burden off of Timo Werner’s shoulders in London, and in Lukaku he has found the perfect player who suits his needs.
The Belgian scored Chelsea’s only goal as the Blues started their title defence in perfect fashion with a thumping header from a delicious cross by Cesar Azpilicueta. In defence, Antonio Rudiger was in inspirational form for Chelsea as they kept a clean sheet at home to give their fans a reason to celebrate before they visit Juventus on the next matchday in the Champions League.
6) LILLE AND WOLFSBURG SHARE THE SPOILS IN FRANCE
French champions LOSC Lille and German club VfL Wolfsburg shared the spoils in the French Republic on matchday 1 of the Champions League.
Burak Yilmaz and Jonathan David came close for the Frenchmen in Lille, but could not find a way past the imposing presence of Koen Casteels in goal for Wolfsburg.
The Germans held on even after John Brooks was dismissed just after the hour-mark in France to deny Lille their first Champions League group stage win since November 2012.
7) DYNAMO KYIV HOLD THEIR FORT AGAINST BENFICA
Benfica were denied victory in Ukraine as Dynamo Kyiv held their ground on the opening night of the group stage in the Champions League this season.
Both clubs shared the points as Benfica climbed to second place in Group E by virtue of securing a draw in an away match in the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv.
Meanwhile, Dynamo Kyiv assumed third place ahead of European heavyweights Barcelona who are in last place after their defeat to Bayern Munich at home in Catalonia.
The Ukrainians next visit Bayern Munich in Germany, while the Portuguese welcome Barcelona back to the Estadio da Luz – where the Catalans lost by a mammoth 8-2 margin to the Bavarian giants.
8) JESSE LINGARD ‘GIFTS’ WIN TO YOUNG BOYS IN BERN
Young Boys won in thrilling fashion after an error-strewn pass from Jesse Lingard that was directed at Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea was intercepted by Theoson Siebatcheu as the Swiss club won virtue of a last-gasp effort in the Swiss capital.
Cristiano Ronaldo had given the lead to the Red Devils early on in Bern just before the quarter-hour mark, only to see after being subbed off how United capitulated under pressure in the final few minutes.
Aaron Wan-Bissaka’s red card in the first half changed the tide in Switzerland as Young Boys equalised six minutes after the hour mark courtesy of a concerted effort that was finished by Moumi Ngamaleu, before Siebatcheu won it deep into second-half stoppage time, leading to scenes of raucous and uncontrolled celebrations from the home fans in Bern.