Champions League wrap: Man City falter as Celtic secure historic win
Trevor Murray looks at a positive Champions League round for the British clubs, with Mario Balotelli sparing Man City's blushes
Balotelli’s penalty saves City’s blushes
It was an exciting match at the Etihad Stadium on Wednesday night, with plenty of action and much to talk about as Manchester City and Borussia Dortmund drew 1-1. At half-time, it was a goalless as neither side could break the deadlock, but it was clear to see that goals were coming – the chances were there. There were plenty of opportunities at either end as Joe Hart and Roman Weidenfeller were put to the test, however, after the restart, Dortmund began to take control. The German side had pressurised well during the first half as they looked to win possession. In the 62nd minute, their determination paid off as Marco Reus fired them ahead. Dortmund dominated proceedings in the second half, but they were denied three points thanks to a very harsh penalty which Mario Balotelli duly converted.
Out-of-sorts Arsenal pull victory out of the bag
Goals from Gervinho, Lukas Podolski and Aaron Ramsey earned Arsenal all three points as they ran out 3-1 winners against a decent Olympiakos side. The Gunners were terribly anonymous in the first half, with no real urgency or sense of direction. There were a few chances and goals to speak of, it was in the second half that the game really came to life. Arsenal began to string more intricate passing sequences together and as a result, create chances and more goals, but despite the victory, their fans will be concerned that they did not win in a more convincing style. In truth, the result always looked a little in doubt until they grabbed their third in the 94th minute. That said, it is still early days and the three points will certainly help the Gunners bid to reach the last-16 where improvement will be needed.
United beat Cluj but questions still remain
Manchester United edged to a 2-1 victory in Romania on Tuesday night, with both goals coming from the in-form Dutch striker Robin van Persie. They got the three points they wanted, and that will have been their main concern before kick-off, but questions will remain about how far the Red Devils can go in this season’s Champions League. Cluj netted the opener in the 14th minute, helped by some rather poor United defending. That has been their Achilles heel so far this season – sloppy defending. If Sir Alex Ferguson can do something to improve the back four, then United would look much more threatening, but as it is, even when the 19-time English champions are in control, they do not appear terribly menacing. Ferguson needs to get the chequebook out in January.
Celtic earn themselves all three points
The green half of Glasgow was in the best of spirits and the finest of voices on Tuesday night as they watched their side earn their first-ever away win in the Champions League group stage. It was a truly historic night for Neil Lennon’s men. The Bhoys emerged victorious by a scoreline of 3-2 as they edged past Spartak Moscow. The highlight of a very memorable night for the Hoops came when Georgios Samaras nodded them in front in the 90th minute. It was a sublime goal that was incredibly well-taken, especially considering the pressure that he was under to score it. Aside from sloppy defending which led to the goals Lennon’s side conceded, this win will give Celtic a much-needed boost ahead of their next clash against Barcelona.
Chelsea hammer four past Nordsjaelland
Chelsea managed to secure a 4-0 victory over Nordsjaelland, but in truth, the result was a rather flattering one for the London club. While Chelsea did have more chances than their Danish opposition, it was home side who had the majority of possession and they even looked rather comfortable with the ball at their feet. Joshua John came closest to grabbing a goal for his side, but a heroic Petr Cech save denied him. However, Chelsea’s clinical finishing and experience in European football proved to be the difference between the two sides as a glut of goals in the final 10 minutes from David Luiz, Ramires and Juan Mata meant that Chelsea got the victory they expected.