Champions League Review: Arsenal dogged, Chelsea weak and another hat-trick for Messi
The second coming of Jose Mourinho with Chelsea in the UEFA Champions League got off to the worst possible start as the 2012 winners suffered a shock defeat in their opening game. Borussia Dortmund also lost, while Arsenal, Barcelona and AC Milan got their campaigns off to a winning start.
Group E: Chelsea shocked at home
Not many people expected FC Basel to spring a surprise against Chelsea in their opening tie of the UEFA Champions League at Stamford Bridge. But a stubborn and organised performance, couple with a lacklustre display from the Blues saw Murat Yakin’s side leave West London with all three points. Oscar put Chelsea ahead right on halftime, but second half goals from Mohamed Salah and Marco Streller saw the Swiss complete an incredible turnaround. This was Chelsea’s first home defeat in the group stages of the UEFA Champions league since 2003.
Feeling the Blues: Chelsea suffered a shock home defeat at the hands of FC Basel
With Chelsea losing, German side Schalke took an early grip of Group E with a resounding 3-0 win over Steaua Bucharest in Gelsenkirchen. Kevin-Prince Boateng scored on his UEFA Champions League debut for Schalke, while Atsuto Uchida and Julian Draxler got the others.
Group F: Arsenal and Napoli take early lead in Group of Death
The Group of Death in this year’s UEFA Champions League is undoubtedly Group F, with Napoli, Borussia Dortmund, Arsenal and Marseille all hoping to make it through. It was the English and German sides though, that registered wins on opening day. Arsenal won 2-1 away at Marseille thanks for goals from Theo Walcott and Aaron Ramsey, taking their away win streak to 10 games in all competitions.
New Napoli boss Rafa Benitez got his UEFA Champions League odyssey off to a flyer with a 2-1 victory against last season’s finalists Dortmund. In a game where both goalkeeper Roman Weidenfeller and manager Jurgen Klopp were sent off for the German side, goals from Gonzalo Higuain and Lorenzo Insigne gave the home side a vital three points. Camilo Zuniga scored a late own goal to give Dortmund hope, but Napoli hung on for the win.
Group G: Atletico Madrid and Porto in pole position
Group G saw the two favourites to progress register wins. Atletico Madrid comfortably beat Zenit St.Petersburg 3-1 at home and gained top spot after the opening round of fixtures. Miranda opened the scoring before Hulk slammed in a fantastic equaliser for Zenit. Atletico though, weren’t deterred as goals from Arda Turan and Leo Baptistao sealed victory.
Porto made early in-roads towards reaching the last 16 of this season’s UEFA Champions League by beating Austria Wien 1-0 away from home. Lucho Gonzalez scored the only goal of the game on 25 minutes.
Group H: Barca, Milan register wins
Lionel Messi yet again proved to us why he is the best player in the world by scoring a magnificent hattrick as Barcelona thumped Ajax 4-0 at the Nou Camp. This was Gerardo Martino’s first game in-charge of the Catalans in the UEFA Champions League. In almost a response to Ronaldo’s treble yesterday, Messi came up with his 4th hattrick in the tournament to send Barca on their way. Gerard Pique scored the other goal.
Anything Cristiano can do…. : Lionel Messi matched Ronaldo’s Matchday 1 hattrick with a treble of his own against Ajax
AC Milan were made to work much harder by Scottish champions Celtic and they needed two goals in the last 10 minutes to seal a 2-0 win at the Nou Camp. Emilio Izaguirre scored an unfortunate own goal 8 minutes from time before a Sulley Muntari strike four minutes later sealed the three points for the seven-time UEFA Champions League winners.