The opening round of Champions League group stage matches kicked off on Tuesday to sold out stadia and fans watching from all over the world. There were plenty of goals to be scored and some surprising results to go along with the pageantry and fanfare that we have come to love from the Champions League.
Barcelona vs. AC Milan
It did not take any time for AC Milan to make their presence felt Tuesday night, as Alexandre Pato struck just 25 seconds after the opening whistle at the Camp Nou. Pato managed to play himself through the Barcelona defense and clear in on goal with a perfectly timed and placed ball, then coolly finish past Victor Valdes. It was only to be the beginning of a fantastic match between two sides seeking to stake their claims on the top spot of Group H.
After conceding the initial goal, Barcelona settled into possession and began to do their work to dismantle the Milan defense. Their efforts appeared to be working, forcing saves from Christian Abbiati from set pieces and open play alike. In the 36th minute the magic came for Barcelona again from the feet of Lionel Messi who wove his way through Milan’s defenders before delivering a pass to Pedro who finished pasted the sliding Abbiati.
Their dominance continued into the second half, when in the 50th minute David Villa sent a masterfully placed free kick into the back of the net, that only Ray Hudson is capable of accurately describing. Barcelona enjoyed 75% of the possession for the game and managed to outshoot their opponents by 16, but as the final whistle approached Milan was able to strike again. From a Clarence Seedorf corner, Thiago Silva rose above Sergio Busquets and headed the equalizer past Valdes. Despite being dominated in possession, AC Milan was able to secure a draw in their away match in Barcelona.
Full match highlights are below, but also check out the video following the link. The Youtube video shows Italian football personality and Milan supporter Tiziano Crudeli’s reactions to the match’s goals, and they are truly something that must be seen. The man is an absolute character, whose enthusiasm and passion cannot be questioned.
Chelsea vs. Bayer Leverkusen
Michael Ballack’s return to Stamford Bridge likely made the former German captain wish he was still there, as it saw Ballack’s Leverkusen fall to Chelsea after a hard fought game. Both sides enjoyed chances throughout the first half with saves being forced and each side having a goal disallowed. Fernando Torres looked lively and was a more creative player than Chelsea fans have grown used to seeing over the past 9 months. Daniel Sturridge continued his good form from the weekend and nearly scored on several occasions.
The breakthrough would not come until after halftime when in the 67th minute, David Luiz began a marauding run up the left side. After laying the ball off to Ashley Cole, he found himself space, where he was met with a return pass from Fernando Torres, which David Luiz fired into the back of the net. Torres and Chelsea continued their dominant play for the final 20 minutes, and were able to create another goal thanks again to Torres. Torres rounded Leverkusen defenders and found Juan Mata lurking near the penalty spot, who slotted it home. The goal is Mata’s second in three appearances so far for the club.
Arsenal vs. Borussia Dortmund
Arsenal’s early season troubles continued on Tuesday during their away day to Dortmund. They looked like they would be able to hold on to the 1-0 lead, but an Ivan Perisic wondergoal allowed Borussia Dortmund to walk away from the match with a point. Mikel Arteta excelled in midfield for Arsenal, creating several scoring opportunities for his new club. The game’s opening goal came in the 42rth minute when Theo Walcott played a through ball in for Robin Van Persie who put it past Roman Weidenfeller.
As the game went on, the Borussians enjoyed more possession and scoring opportunities. Their scoring chances became increasingly frequent during the game’s closing minutes as Arsenal scrambled to defend the onslaught. They were finally caught when a free kick was headed clear by Arsenal only to have it fall to the left foot of Ivan Perisic, who volleyed a screamer just inside the right post. It was a goal and result that the home side deserved as they dominated possession and scoring chances.
Porto vs. Shakhtar Donetsk
The match played in Estadio do Dragao might be one that Shakhtar would soon like to forget as it not only saw their side fall after leading, but have two players receive red cards in the process. Porto’s first opportunity came in the 10th minute after James Rodriguez was taken down in the box, and the referee pointed to the penalty spot. Hulk stepped up to take the penalty, but hit the left post and was left wanting. Shakhtar would respond just two minutes later when Luiz Adriano took advantage of a fumbled ball by Porto
keeper Helton and scored.
The game would be drawn level just under the half hour mark, when Hulk made amends for his penalty miss by crushing a left footed free kick from 35 yards into the net. A few minutes later Hulk earned shouts for another penalty, but the cries went unanswered. 5 minutes before halftime Shakhtar defender Yaroslav Rakitskiy was sent off for a two footed lunge on Joao Moutinho. Six minutes after halftime Porto would strike again when James Rodriguez dismantled the left side of the Shakhtar defense before laying a perfect ball onto Kleber for the finish. Before the game would finish Shakhtar vice-captain Dmytro Chygrynskiy was sent off for his second bookable offense of the match.
Hulk’s screamer along with the others can be seen here: http://www.101greatgoals.com/videodisplay/porto-shakhtar-donetsk-15404187/
The Other Matches:
Marseille traveled to Olympiakos and got a 1-0 victory for their troubles: http://www.101greatgoals.com/videodisplay/olympiakos-marseille-15404417/
APOEL proved that they were no pushovers and came back from a goal down to win 2-1 against Zenit St.
Viktoria Plzen and BATE Borisov played to a 1-1 draw: http://www.101greatgoals.com/videodisplay/plzen-bate-15404216/
Genk and Valencia played to a scoreless draw:
MLS Goal Worth Watching
Vancouver Whitecaps midfielder David Chiumiento creates this spectacular goal out of almost nothing:
That’s all for today, I’ll recap today’s matches tomorrow. Tiziano Crudeli gets the background today, because he is epic.