UEFA Champions League: 4 Lesser-Known Players Who Impressed This Week
There was a lot to discuss after the first round of the Champions League Group Stage, with a mixture of shocks, predictable results, and tightly fought encounters.
Chelsea won, while Arsenal and Manchester United both drew. AC Milan earned a draw against Barcelona, while Inter lost. Marseille ended with a better result than fellow French teams Lille and Lyon.
While most people with talk about the results of Europe's elite clubs, it is also wise to discuss the underdog stories.
Apart from Trabzonspor's shock win over Inter Milan, there weren't any huge upsets. However, some smaller teams produced praiseworthy and unpredictable results. For many of these clubs, there were a few notable players that stood out.
Here's a list of four lesser-known players who impressed in the first round of matches:
Gustavo Manduca, APOEL
Match: APOEL vs. Zenit St. Petersburg: 2-1
Manduca was at the center of APOEL's historic win on Tuesday. The Cypriot team recorded their first-ever win in the UEFA Champions League by beating 10-man Zenit St. Petersburg 2-1. After the visitors took an early lead, APOEL turned the game on its head in just five minutes.
Gustavo Manduca scored the first APOEL goal on 73 minutes and assisted the second three minutes later. It went from bad to worse for the Russian side when Bruno Alves received a second yellow card less than a minute after that.
Manduca and Brazilian striker Ailton were superb in this game and gave APOEL confidence of doing well in Group G.
Ondrej Celustka, Trabzonspor
Claudio Villa/Getty Images
Match: Inter Milan vs. Trabzonspor: 0-1
Position: Right Back
After moving to Turkey from Slavia Prague this summer, Ondrej Celustka was placed in Trabzonspor's starting lineup for the first game of this season's Champions League.
The Czech international played superbly in defense and also scored the only goal as the Turkish side shocked the Italians.
Celustka looks like a great addition to Trabzonspor's lineup, and could help the Turks stay in European competition past the Group Stage.
Petr Jiracek, Viktoria Plzen
Match: Viktoria Plzen vs. BATE Borisov: 1-1
Viktoria Plzen must have pondered their lack of luck when drawn in the same group as Barcelona and AC Milan. At the same time, they had a realistic chance of getting third in their group if they could place higher than BATE Borisov.
The two teams met up in Plzen on Tuesday, in a match that ended 1-1.
The result may not be too good, especially if Viktoria are looking to remain in European competition for as long as possible, but there were positives to take away from the match.
One positive was the performance of Petr Jiracek who, along with Vaclav Pilar, provided much of Viktoria's offensive play. Jiracek made a superb cross that Marek Bakos slotted home.
Seydou Doumbia, CSKA Moscow
Match: Lille OSC vs. CSKA Moscow: 2-2
Despite a dominant performances by Lille, CSKA Moscow left France with a point. They can attribute this draw to luck, Lille's wasteful finishing and Seydou Doumbia.
The Ivory Coast forward joined the Russians in 2010 after finishing as top scorer twice in a row in the Swiss league. Doumbia has impressed since then, and it was no different against Lille on Wednesday.
The 23-year-old scored with both shots he took.
Sometimes it doesn't matter how badly your team plays—if you have a striker who can score every time he shoots, you'll usually end up with a good result.