Spanish Clubs in Europe: Matchday 2

Rael MasonCorrespondent IOctober 1, 2010

Spanish Clubs in Europe: Matchday 2

0 of 3

    SAN SEBASTIAN, SPAIN - SEPTEMBER 18:  Angel di Maria of Real Madrid celebrates after scoring Real's first goal during the La Liga match between Real Sociedad and Real Madrid at Estadio Anoeta on September 18, 2010 in San Sebastian, Spain.  (Photo by Denis
    Denis Doyle/Getty Images

    Auxerre 0 - 1 Real Madrid

    Angel di Maria came off the bench to fire in the winner for Madrid in a hard-fought tie away in France on Tuesday night. Di Maria scored a fine volley from Mesut Özil's cross with only nine minutes remaining to make it two wins out of two in this season's Champions League group stage.

    In a group that also contains Ajax and AC Milan, there are no easy games for Madrid this time around, but six points from six heading into the double header with Milan gives Real a great chance of winning the group.

    For a long time it looked like Madrid might endure another frustrating evening. Although they dominated possession and created several chances, it was a similar story to their La Liga away games where goals have been difficult to come by.

    Cristiano Ronaldo was predictably in the thick of the action, with a couple of long range drives and a header going close, but was unable to break the deadlock. Higuain and Lass both had efforts blocked, while at the other end Auxerre had a couple of chances from set pieces. As the game entered the final 15 minutes, it looked as if both sides would have to settle for a share of the spoils, until di Maria's decisive arrival.

    The second half introductions of Özil and di Maria proved to be a masterstroke from boss Jose Mourinho, as the two substitutes combined to score the only goal of the game, with a late block from Marcelo denying Auxerre and ensuring the game finished 1-0.

    Next up for Madrid will be the visit of Milan on October 19th, a chance to avenge their 3-2 home loss to the Italian side in last year's group stage.

Spanish Clubs in Europe: Matchday 2

1 of 3

    MADRID, SPAIN - SEPTEMBER 19:  David Villa of Barcelona in action during the La Liga match between Atletico Madrid and Barcelona at Vicente Calderon Stadium on September 19, 2010 in Madrid, Spain.  (Photo by Angel Martinez/Getty Images)
    Angel Martinez/Getty Images

    Rubin Kazan 1 - 1 Barcelona

    For the second successive year, Barca drew away in Russia to an impressive Rubin Kazan side. This time around, it was a tale of two penalties, with Kazan's first half spot kick and Barca's second half reply the only goals in a fairly dull Champions League Group D encounter.

    Barca took control early on and assumed their usual role, dominating possession and looking the team most likely to score, but it was Kazan who took the lead on the half hour mark. A break into the box by Vitaly Kaleshin drew a clumsy challenge from Dani Alves who clipped the Kazan player from behind for a clear penalty.

    The penalty was smashed home by Christian Noboa to give the Russian side the lead, at which point they retreated to a wall of maroon shirts camped in and around their own box, with Barca finding it difficult to create much of note.

    The pattern continued into the second half, but just as a frustrated Pep Guardiola was about to send on Leo Messi to try and rescue a result, Barca got a penalty of their own. This spot kick came about in similar circumstances, with a clumsy challenge from behind on Andres Iniesta giving David Villa the chance to level affairs, a chance he duly took.

    Messi was introduced soon after, and much to the delight of the Barca faithful, looks to be suffering no lingering effects of the injury suffered ten days before. Even the presence of Messi wasn't enough to help Barca find the winner, as the game played out to a rather quiet conclusion, with the 1-1 draw leaving Barca on four points from two games.

    Next up for Barca will be the visit of FC Copenhagen to Camp Nou, a game most will expect to be a comfortable home win, although Copenhagen's 2-0 win away in Greece against Panathinaikos serves as a reminder that the Danish side cannot be underestimated.

Spanish Clubs in Europe: Matchday 2

2 of 3

    VALENCIA, SPAIN - SEPTEMBER 29:  Javier Hernandez of Manchester United celebrates after scoring the opening goal during the UEFA Champions League Group C match between Valencia and Manchester United at the Mestalla Stadium on September 29, 2010 in Valenci
    Alex Livesey/Getty Images

    Valencia 0 - 1 Manchester United

    An 85th minute strike from substitute Javier 'Chicharito' Hernandez gave Manchester United a precious 1-0 Champions League win against Valencia, condemning the Spanish side to their first defeat of the season. The result was harsh on the home side, who more than held their own throughout the encounter and matched United for chances, but it was Hernandez who made his chance count with five minutes to go.

    Valencia began with Juan Mata, Pablo Hernandez and Chori Dominguez providing the service for lone forward Roberto Soldado, and it was Soldado who had the best chance of the first half. A left wing cross was flapped at by United 'keeper Edwin van der Sar and made it through to Soldado all alone with the goal at his mercy. Unfortunately for the home side, the striker's header looped over the bar, with Soldado perhaps surprised the ball reached him in the first place.

    United, missing talismanic forward Wayne Rooney, struggled to make chances throughout the game, with Dimitar Berbatov looking isolated as a lone forward. Valencia began the second half well, with Pablo Hernandez going close after great work out wide. United then created their first real chance when Berbatov turned cleverly and fired in a shot that was well saved by Cesar.

    It was the introduction of Hernandez and fellow forward Federico Macheda that proved to be decisive for the visitors as both had been on the pitch only a matter of minutes before they combined for the game's winning goal. Nani broke down the United right before passing inside to Macheda, who moved the ball on to Hernandez, allowing the young Mexican to beat his defender and fire low and hard past Cesar.

    The result was harsh on Valencia, who now find themselves three points trailing both United and Rangers who are currently tied for first place in Group C with 4 points each. The home and away ties with Rangers will now be decisive for Valencia's qualification hopes, with a trip to Ibrox on October 20th followed by the return game at the Mestalla two weeks later.

Spanish Clubs in Europe: Matchday 2

3 of 3

    MADRID, SPAIN - SEPTEMBER 19: Simao Sabrosao of Atletico Madrid reacts during the La Liga match between Atletico Madrid and Barcelona at Vicente Calderon Stadium on September 19, 2010 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Angel Martinez/Getty Images)
    Angel Martinez/Getty Images

    Atletico Madrid 1 - 1 Bayer Leverkusen

    Atletico's difficult start to the defence of their Europa League title continued as they drew 1-1 at home to German side Bayer Leverkusen. They now find themselves with only one point from two games after the disastrous defeat to Aris Salonika in their opening game.

    Only a second half penalty from Simao rescued a point for Atletico in a game in which they were outplayed by the visitors. The first half featured very few noteworthy moments, but it was Leverkusen who took the lead in the 39th minute as Swiss forward Eren Derdiyok smashed home as the ball dropped to him following a corner. Leverkusen came close to doubling their lead just before the break, with Manuel Friedrich heading narrowly over.

    The first half troubles prompted drastic action from boss Quique Sanchez Flores, who withdrew Raul Garcia and Diego Forlan for Tiago and youngster Fran Merida, and it wasn't long before Merida made a key impact. It was Merida who was brought down by a sliding challenge from Sami Hyypia to win Atletico's penalty, which was scored by Simao in the absence of Forlan.

    Worryingly for Atletico, they created very little throughout, with Leverkusen having over twice as many shots as the Spanish side, who seem to really be missing the creative genius of the injured Sergio Aguero.

    Atletico now face two games with Rosenborg which will be vital to their hopes of qualifying for the knockout stages, which is still well within their reach with four games remaining. There is much work to do though, as Atletico sit bottom of the group with just one point, with Rosenborg and Aris on three and Leverkusen on four.