In a thrilling encounter at the Santiago Bernabéu on Tuesday evening, Real Madrid snatched a dramatic winner against Manchester City to compete a 3-2 win. City took the lead against the run of play through Edin Dzeko but Madrid’s pressure and quality proved too much for Roberto Mancini’s men, with Cristiano Ronaldo’s strike in the 89th minute ultimately separating the sides. The gap in quality was clear to see as Madrid knocked the ball around the edge of City’s box for long periods. The home side’s shooting was wayward in the opening exchanges, but everything changed in an entertaining second half with goals coming from Marcelo, Karim Benzema and City’s Aleksandar Kolarov. The Citizens, for much of the match, looked inferior to José Mourinho’s men as they were unable to control possession or string intricate passing sequences together. In truth, City were lucky not to lose by a bigger margin and will need time to recuperate in time for their upcoming match against Ajax.
Arsenal will need to perform much better on matchday two following what was an unconvincing 2-1 victory over Montpellier on Tuesday night. All three goals came during an enthralling first half. The French side took the lead early on after Younès Belhanda converted a questionable penalty, but Arsenal replied quickly with two goals – Lukas Podolski netted before the in-form Gervinho put the visitors ahead. Although Arsène Wenger’s men took home maximum points, he will not be happy with his side’s display and he will be looking for a much-improved performance next time out. The Gunners’ chances were few and far between in comparison to Montpellier who were unlucky to lose. They even hit the woodwork and, undoubtedly, they will take heart from their performance.
Sir Alex Ferguson’s side emerged victorious on Wednesday night thanks to a beautifully worked Michael Carrick goal in the seventh minute. It was the highlight of an otherwise poor performance, but the Red Devils will be happy to have started the process of exorcising the demons of last season’s early exit. United were unconvincing, encapsulated by Nani’s penalty miss, and at times, looked weak on the left side of defence due to Patrice Evra’s marauding runs. However, Ferguson was pleased to get three points on the board and the home side had chances right up until stoppage time to extend their lead. Galatasary had their opportunities too, hitting the woodwork on two occasions and were, in truth, unlucky not to score. It was a win for United, but against more clinical opposition, one wonders how the Red Devils will fare.
Celtic showed that they can still perform capably on the biggest stage on Wednesday night even following a long stint out of Europe’s elite club competition. They will take great heart and encouragement from their opening match and although it ended goalless at an atmospheric Parkhead, it was still quite an entertaining affair. Nicolás Gaitán and Pablo Aimar looked threatening for Benfica, while Kris Commons and Charlie Mulgrew, among others, battled away tenaciously for the Scots. Neil Lennon’s men boxed well above their weight and will be delighted with a point, but, considering that they failed to create many clear-cut opportunities, it will probably take something special for them to qualify from this group.
Roberto Di Matteo will be not have been impressed, and neither will Roman Abramovich, as Chelsea let slip a two-goal cushion at the Stamford Bridge. New signing Oscar got both goals for the Blues – the second of which was the stuff of football genius – while for Juve, Arturo Vidal and Fabio Quagliarella got on the score sheet. In truth, the Old Lady were the more exciting and imaginative team on the pitch with Andrea Pirlo pulling the strings from midfield. On the other hand, Chelsea looked strong going forward, but undeniably suspect when asked to defend. If Fernando Torres and company are to mount a successful defence of their European title, they will need to get the chequebook out again in the January transfer window for one or two top defenders.
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