UEFA Champions League Wednesday Wrap
Home advantage counted for nothing in the second installment of this week’s Champions League action when no less than five away sides pulled off results in unfamiliar territory.
Wins for Real Madrid, Málaga, Arsenal and Dynamo Kiev may have been of little surprise to anyone, but the old English-versus-Germany rivalry flared up again at the Etihad to make for a thrilling draw.
Borussia Dortmund made life incredibly hard for the Premier League champions on their own soil, but read on to find out how the action unfolded in all European fixtures.
Arsenal 3-1 Olympiakos
Scorers: Arsenal—Gervinho 42’, Lukas Podolski 56’, Aaron Ramsey 90’+4
Olympiakos—Kostas Mitroglou 45’
Recap: Although the scoreline would tell a different story, Olympiakos put up one heck of a fight against an Arsenal side bouncing back from a loss against Chelsea. Gervinho got on the scoring sheet once more before Mitroglou equalised for the visitors heading into the break.
However, home advantage proved key and some classy link-up play set up second-half goals for Lukas Podolski and Aaron Ramsey
The Gervinho Show: With a season of Arsenal football now under his belt, Gervinho has been a different man this season, scoring his fifth goal and setting up Podolski to net. The Ivorian may have needed a bit of time to mold to the Gunner life, but appears to be just fine now.
Where It Leaves Them: The only side to win both of their matches so far, Arsenal now top Group B while Olympiakos have yet to claim a point and have a worrying goal difference of minus-3.
Up Next: Things don’t get any easier for the Greek side, who have to make their way to Montpellier later on this month, while Arsenal host Schalke in an enticing fixture between two sides challenging for the top places in their respective leagues.
Aaron Ramsey has scored 'at the death' for Arsenal and that means that famous people fear the reaper tonight. #UCL— Infostrada Sports (@InfostradaLive) October 3, 2012
Manchester City 1-1 Borussia Dortmund
Scorers: Manchester City—Balotelli 90’
Borussia Dortmund—Reus 62’
Recap: Borussia Dortmund deserved to take the lead in the second half after piling the pressure on Manchester City’s goal for the first two-thirds of the game. The Germans may have dominated in just about every area of attack, but couldn’t stand up to the home pressure, and it was substitute Mario Balotelli that came on to net the equalising penalty for Roberto Mancini’s men.
"Harty" Performance: Were it not for a certain Englishman between the Manchester City sticks, Borussia Dortmund could easily have come away with all three points. Joe Hart was easily Manchester City’s best player on the night.
Where It Leaves Them: After clawing back late to claim their first point of the tournament, Manchester City are in the third spot in Group D while Borussia Dortmund look forward to their meeting with Real Madrid out of the second spot.
Up Next: Manchester City have a great chance to get a win on the board when they take on Dutch champions Ajax, while Borussia Dortmund play hosts to Real Madrid at the Westfalenstadion.
Mario Balotelli stays perfect from the spot (11-for-11 lifetime) as Manchester City gain a point against Borussia Dortmund #UCL— Infostrada Sports (@InfostradaLive) October 3, 2012
FC Porto 1-0 Paris Saint-Germain
Scorers: Porto—James Rodriguez 83’
Recap: Zlatan Ibrahimovic may be the man of the moment for big-spending PSG, but he failed to make any good of his chances during midweek, wasting what little forays forward PSG had. James Rodriguez made no such mistake and continues his romp as Colombia’s best export for years due to a crisply curled, late finish.
Where It Leaves Them: PSG will undoubtedly be the biggest challengers to Porto topping Group A, making this result all the more pivotal as they make their way to the summit. PSG are three points behind in second, but there is most certainly everything still to play for.
Up Next: The travelling doesn’t end for PSG anytime soon and Carlo Ancelotti’s side head to Croatia next to face Dinamo Zagreb. Meanwhile, Porto will face another of the winners this week, Dynamo Kiev, in their native Portugal.
1 - Porto have only ever lost one Champions League game vs French opponents, but that was a 0-2 defeat to PSG in October 2004. Exception.— Opta(@OptaJoe) October 3, 2012
Zenit St. Petersburg 2-3 AC Milan
Scorers: Zenit St. Petersburg—Hulk 45’+2, Roman Shirokov 49’
AC Milan—Urby Emanuelson 13’, Stephan El Shaarawy 16’, Tomas Hubocan (OG) 75’
Recap: AC Milan continued their run of unimpressive displays when they travelled to Russia on Wednesday, but managed to come away with all three points intact nonetheless. Two combinations of Roman Shirokov and Hulk managed to pull the hosts back level after going down, 2-0, early in the first half. However, pressure finally told and Tomas Hubocan got back to stop Giampolo Pazzini from scoring, but ended up directing the ball into his own net anyway.
Samba Superstar: Brazilians are becoming a common sight in Russian and Ukrainian football, and it was a particularly expensive South American that got the home side back into this fixture. Hulk got on the end of a Roman Shirokov ball before finishing with aplomb in his new surroundings.
Where It Leaves Them: Milan’s first win of the European campaign saw them temporarily move to the top of Group C before settling into second place following Málaga’s win at Anderlecht. Zenit remain the basement side and have yet to claim a point, despite the money splashed over the summer.
Up Next: Zenit play hosts again next time around, but this time to Anderlecht, while Málaga seek to take a real advantage over Milan when they come to Spanish territory.
Milan's track record in 35 previous #UCL matches in which they took a 2-0 lead: 33 wins, 2 draws, 0 defeats. (2005 final listed as a draw)— Infostrada Sports (@InfostradaLive) October 3, 2012
Ajax 1-4 Real Madrid
Scorers: Real Madrid—Cristiano Ronaldo 42’, 79’, 81, Karim Benzema 48’
Ajax—Niklas Moisander 56’
Recap: It was another case of that Portuguese chap running the show once again when Cristiano Ronaldo netted a hat trick in Amsterdam. Ajax will be sick at the sight of Ronaldo after meeting Los Merengues for the last three Champions League group stages on the trot. A particular highlight of the match was Karim Benzema’s finely executed overhead scissor kick. The kind of stuff football was made for.
Quotable: Frank de Boer showed that he has no short memory prior to the match against Real when he was quoted at a press conference (h/t Bettor.com) as saying, “Real Madrid are so effective on the counter. That was very clear last year at the Bernabeu when they beat us 3-0.”
Where It Leaves Them: As was expected, Ajax remain stuck to the bottom of the Group of Death that is Group D, while Real Madrid are flying high after achieving two wins in consecutive games.
Up Next: Unfortunately, there’s no such luck as anything but an underdog fixture for Ajax in their group, and they will be tasked with toppling Manchester City when they come to Amsterdam later this month. Meanwhile, Real travel to Borussia Dortmund hoping to put some distance between themselves and the German giants.
Cristiano Ronaldo with his 18th career hat-trick and his very first in the Champions League! 15 in La Liga, 1 in EPL, 1 in Copa, 1 in #UCL— Infostrada Sports (@InfostradaLive) October 3, 2012
Schalke 04 2-2 Montpellier
Scorers: Schalke 04—Julian Draxler 26’, Klaas-Jan Huntelaar (pen) 53’
Montpellier—Karim Aït-Fana 13’, Souleymane Camara 90’,
Garry Bocaly (Sent Off)
Recap: Wednesday’s visitors got off to an incredible start through a goal courtesy of Karim Aït-Fana, but were left dumbstruck by the brilliance of Julian Draxler, who rounded the Montpellier ‘keeper to finish with ease. It was then Draxler who earned the hosts a penalty, which Klaas-Jan Huntelaar lashed home in comfortable fashion before a late Camara curler salvaged a point for the Ligue 1 champions.
Attack of the Drax: Julian Draxler may be just 19 years old, but the prodigy is already living up to his potential and was a driving force for Die Knappen on Wednesday, at the very core of everything that was working for the hosts. Daunted by the big stage, this kid is not.
Where It Leaves Them: Montpellier are undoubtedly the happier of the two sides after rescuing their first point of the European season, while Schalke can be upset at the fact that they are now two points behind Arsenal, who head Group B with six of their own.
Up Next: In a Group B match of epic proportions, Schalke travel to the Emirates Stadium next, while Montpellier have the fairly easier task of hosting Olympiakos.
Julian Draxler, at 19 years and 13 days, he is the youngest German goalscorer in CL history, breaking the record (19-100) by Lars Ricken.— Infostrada Sports (@InfostradaLive) October 3, 2012
Anderlecht 0-3 Málaga
Scorers: Málaga—Eliseu 45’+1, 64’, Joaquin (pen) 57’
Recap: Eliseu can be looked at as nothing other than man of the match this week after scoring two contenders for goal of the tournament against Anderlecht. The Belgians were first left stunned by a 30-yard bullet into the top left-hand corner of the net. Things were made infinitely worse when the same player cut onto his left from the right flank before noticing the Anderlecht stopper off his line and curling in a top-class finish that just seemed to float forever.
Where It Leaves Them: Even though Milan recorded a rare win earlier on in the day, Málaga remain at the top of Group C with a healthy goal difference that could prove vital. Anderlecht looked poor defensively, but are just above Zenit St. Petersburg, second from the basement.
Up Next: In the match that could decide who goes through as top seeds and who doesn’t, Málaga host Milan next, while Anderlecht travel to the colds of Russia looking to heap even more woe on the Eastern Europeans.
Dynamo Kiev 2-0 Dinamo Zagreb
Scorers: Dynamo Kiev—Oleg Gusev 3’, Josip Pivaric (OG) 33’
Recap: Oleg Gusev was the star of the show after encouraging his side to recover quickly from their 4-1 loss to PSG, as he headed the hosts into the lead after only three minutes. The Ukrainians could count on Zagreb’s Josip Jivaric to finish off the job, but Dynamo never looked like losing this battle and were very convincing in earning their first points of the campaign.
Where It Leaves Them: Kiev climb on level with points with PSG after a dominant win over Dinamo Zagreb that leaves the Croatian outfit licking their wounds in dead last.
Up Next: Group A gets back underway in three weeks time, when Dinamo Zagreb will look to pinch some points off of PSG on their home turf. Meanwhile, Dynamo Kiev travel to the hotter climates of Portugal.