Uefa Champions League wrap – Arsenal gets vital win, Atletico Madrid and Barcelona through to Last 16.

ramseyyyy02_w2A good wrap of all the actions that went down on Matchday 4 in the Uefa Champions League. It was however a “Stalemate Tuesday” as most of the key matches ended in a draw but Wednesday fixtures produced more convincing wins.

Holders, Bayern Munich on Tuesday night confirmed their spot in the preliminary knock-out stages with a 1-0 victory over Viktoria Plzen. Bayern Munich weren’t very good, but that didn’t keep them from all three points and by doing so equalled the Champions League record of nine consecutive victories set by manager Pep Guardiola’s former side Barcelona in 2002/3.

It took until 65 minutes for the deadlock to be broken, substitute Mario Mandzukic found free in the box from a Lahm cross, and he headed home.

For Viktoria Plzen, they have now had just seven shots on target in this season’s competition, the lowest of any side. Now that Bayern are through to the next round, the question is; Can the Bavarians become the first side in the Champions League era to retain the trophy?

Joining Bayern in the next round is a team that got third-time lucky, Manchester City.  Sergio Aguero claimed a brace and Alvaro Negredo a hat-trick as the Citizens outclassed CSKA Moscow 5-2 on Tuesday to book a place in the Champions League knockout phase.

negredo124928-17748618-640-360Sergio Aguero became Manchester City’s top scorer in European football with the brace and this is the first time Manchester City have qualified from the group stages of the Champions League but for CSKA Moscow, they have still not won a European away game in England. If City are to make a good statement in Europe this season, they have to convert home dominance to away form.

Group A games failed to produced goals on the night as Manchester United and Real Sociedad shared the spoils in Spain and Shaktar Donetsk and Bayer Leverkusen game also recorded the same scoreline in Ukraine with Manchester United setting a new Champions League record as the side remained unbeaten in their first four group stage matches for the seventh consecutive season in Europe, and for the 11th time in total.

The big game of the night between Juventus and Real Madrid also ended in a stalemate but it was a thrilling 2-2 scoreline that handed Real a more convincing qualification hope for the knockout phase. The result has left Antonio Conte’s side bottom of the log and needing the to win the final two games to stand any chance of qualifying from the group.

Juventus v Real Madrid - UEFA Champions LeagueA very entertaining game with a more positive display from Juventus and a usual topsy-turvy performance from Real especially in the defence.
Ronaldo got a goal in the 2nd half before Vidal equalised for the home team. On the 60th minute, Gareth Bale restored Real’s lead but it only lasted for seven minutes as Llorente headed past Casillas to make it 2-2.

Ronaldo’s goal was his 8th in the tournament, equaling Inzaghi, Van Nistelrooy and Hernán Crespo’s record of 8th goals in the group stages. The portuguese star also became the first player in UEFA Champions League history to score 14 goals in one calendar year.

Elsewhere, Zlatan Ibrahimovic salvaged a 1-1 home draw for Paris St Germain against Anderlecht as the French champions were made to wait for a last-16 spot and a first-half header from Kostas Manolas and an inspired performance by goalkeeper Roberto lifted Olympiakos to a 1-0 win over Benfica in a tight affair.

In another Group B game, Daniel Braaten’s sixth minute goal earned Danish side, FC Copenhagen a 1-0 win over Roberto Mancini’s, Galatasaray.

ramsey0385_w2On Wednesday, The most anticipated game ended in a 1-0 win for Arsenal over Borussia Dortmund in Germany. Aaron Ramsey headed home in the 62nd minute of the Group F clash with the Premier League club’s first attempt of the match. The victory leaves Arsenal top of the group on nine points, while Dortmund – playing their 100th tie in the European Cup – slip out of the top two as a result of Napoli’s win over basement club Marseille.

After seven straight home wins, Borussia Dortmund lose for the first time since 6 December 2011, when they fell 3-2 against Marseille and they have also failed to score in a Champions League home game for the first time since 2002.

Arsene Wenger became the coach with the 2nd most Champions League games under his belt, managing his 150th game last night. The only man with more Champions League matches in this bracket is Sir Alex Ferguson, who has managed more matches in the competition with 190.

napoliii516_w2In Naples, two goals from Gonzalo Higuain helped Napoli to a thrilling 3-2 victory against Marseille, the Argentine scored his second goal with 15 minutes remaining to settle a superb contest.

Florian Thauvin had levelled for the visitors on 64 minutes after two brilliantly-taken goals from Napoli’s Gokhan Inler and Higuain in as many first-half minutes had cancelled out Andre Ayew’s headed opener for the French side.

The win moved Rafael Benitez’s side into second place in the group on nine points, level with leaders Arsenal and Marseille’s fourth straight defeat means they will finish bottom of the group.

atletico0219_w2Atlético and Barcelona joined Bayern and Manchester in the next round with comfortable victories last night. Barcelona, two-time winners in the past five seasons, moved onto ten points in Group H with a 3-1 success against AC Milan in a game that Lionel Messi was in an inspiring form that earned him a brace on the night to end his three-game run without a goal.

kakaaa344_w2The Rossoneri are now vying for the second qualification spot with Dutch side, Ajax who prevailed 1-0 against Celtic FC at the Amsterdam ArenA. The win revived Ajax’s chances in the group as Lasse Schone scored at the end of a sweeping move early in the second half.

Meanwhile, Atletico Madrid cruised to their fourth consecutive victory with a 4-0 win at home to Austria Vienna assuring themselves of top spot in Group G and a place in the last 16. Miranda, Raul Garcia and Filipe Luis put La Liga’s second- placed side three up before halftime and leading scorer Diego Costa netted the fourth late on after missing a second-half penalty.

In another game, Group G’s second-placed side Zenit St Petersburg were earlier held to a 1-1 draw at home to Porto to move on to five points, seven adrift of leaders Atletico with two matches left to play.

Austria Wien remained bottom of the group and without a goal scored so far.

chelsea0_w2In England, Chelsea got back on track after suffering a domestic loss by reasserting their control of Champions League Group E with their 100th victory in UEFA competition with a 3-0 victory over Schalke 04.

Samuel Etoo bagged a brace on the night before Demba Ba got the the third goal in the 83rd minute to seal the win.

Chelsea can now qualify for the last 16 with a draw in their next match at Basel who earned a stoppage-time equalizer by substitute Giovanni Sio in a barely deserved 1-1 draw at home to Steaua Bucharest. A goal by Steaua forward Federico Piovaccari in the 17th minute seemed set to condemn Basel to a second straight 1-0 home defeat.

Basel now has five points and trails one behind Schalke while Steaua, the 1986 European champion, is bottom with two points.

 

Adeyemi Adesanya
Sports Business Consultant and Football Intermediary; Risk Management & Due Diligence Consultant; Freelance Football writer & Pundit on Radio & TV and Man.Utd Fan
http://www.halftimeng.com

Leave a Reply