The UEFA Champions League group stages ended yesterday night, with most of the big clubs starting well while others may have to wait for the second week to fire up 😀
Let’s start with how the Big 4 English clubs fared.
Tuesday night saw Manchester United and Chelsea in action for groups B and D respectively. United were in action away in Turkey, facing Besiktas Istanbul. The Turkish fans were fired up for the night as they greated an atmosphere worthy of the Champions League, and someone even amused himself by aiming laser light into United players’ eyes until the security caught him at half time. United were not flamboyant, with only Rooney leading the attack, and although they did create some chances early on they could not score. Besiktas as well were not doing much damage, if for a shot deflecting off Evans and over Foster’s bar. The only goal came 13 minutes from the final whistle, with Scholes heading in after Ankan had parried a Nani shot. Rooney for his behalf was subbed to allow Owen to come on, and he had an outburst of frustration on the bench as he flung his boots hard in the ground.
Chelsea were also in action, facing Porto in a deluge of rain at Stamford Bridge in London. The Blues were without striker Drogba, banned for 3 games after his outburst with the referee in last season’s match against Barcelona, which they drew but were eliminated. Anelka was deployed as the target-man, with Malouda, Kalou and Lampard in support. Porto however, matched the Blues throughout the game and could have scored a couple as well but for Cech, while Anelka managed to score the only goal of the night in the second half with Kalou the provider.
On Wednesday night, Liverpool and Arsenal were in action to complete the Big 4. Liverpool were up against Debreceni at Anfield, and while many hoped for a goal-romp, the Reds only managed to score 1, Kuyt the scorer in 1st half added-time. Liverpool failed to capitalize on the chances they created and in the end only 1-0 was enough to see them win their 3pts.
Arsenal, who were away to Standard Liege, made a remarkable come-back to win against the Belgium team. Arsenal were 2-0 down after 5 minutes, goals from Mangala on 2 minutes and a penalty by Jovanovic three minutes later. But the Gunners recomposed themselves, and Bendtner pulled one back before half-time, and eventually in the second half goals from Vermaelen and Edwardo (ban-lifted after UEFA analyzed his diving case) secured the win for the Gunners, some fresh air for them after 2 back-to-back defeats in the Premier League.
In other important games, Juventus were held 1-1 on their homeground by Bordeaux, goals from Iaquinta and Plasil, under once again extreme conditions with rain pouring down in Italy as well.
The most awaited game was between last year’s champions, Barcelona, and Mourinho’s Inter, match held at the latter’s stadium, San Siro. It was also the reunion of two players against their previous teams, Eto’o now transferred to Inter, and Ibrahimovic who joined Barcelona in a swap deal in the recent transfer window. Barca created many opportunities, dominated the game throughout, but were unable to score, and the match finally ended 0-0.
Another team in action this time on Tuesday, was the Galacticos of Real Madrid. They were up against FC Zurich, and did not disappoint their travelling fans. Ronaldo opened the scoring from a freekick on 27th minute, with Raul adding a second on 34th min. Higuain then scored in added time to give R.Madrid a comfortable 0-3 lead. But in the second half FC Zurich fought back, with first Margairaz scoring from the spot, 64th min, and Aegerter adding a second on 65th min. But R.Madrid left it late, as Ronaldo scored yet again from a freekick on 89th min, then Guti added the 5th goal for the Galacticos in added time, 2-5 final score.
Olympique Marseille lost 1-2 to AC Milan, with Inzaghi scoring 2 for the Italian side, while Heinze scored for Marseille.
All the results as follows:
All the groups standings as follows: