With Bayern Munich held to a draw in Naples, and Marseille not playing until Wednesday, Real Madrid became the first team to win all three of their group games in this season’s UEFA Champions League, strolling to a comfortable 4-0 victory over Lyon.
It was a nervy but ultimately satisfying night for fans of the two Manchester clubs; City scored the winner against Villarreal in stoppage time, while ten-man United needed two Wayne Rooney penalties to see off Romanian champions Otelul Galati.
The big game
Napoli 1-1 Bayern Munich, Group A
Goals: Holger Badstuber (OG) 39 (Napoli); Toni Kroos 2 (Bayern Munich)
In a match that had commitment, goals, controversy and an incredible atmosphere at San Paolo stadium, Napoli and Bayern Munich could simply not be separated. The Bavarians looked to be on their way to claiming all three points when they took maximum advantage of a gap in the home defence in just the second minute of the match. Subsequently, the Italians, aligned in a 3-4-3 formation, could seemingly do nothing to prevent a confident Bayern from creating a host of chances. But the Naples-based outfit found a way back into the match six minutes before half-time. Christian Maggio went past his man down the right and sent in an inviting low cross that Holger Badstuber could only deflect into his own net, achieving a feat that no other player had managed for twelve matches: putting the ball past Manuel Neuer. The Germans obtained a penalty in the second half after Paolo Cannavaro had handled in the box, but Napoli goalkeeper Morgan de Sanctis did well to save Mario Gomez’s tame effort. The intensity of the encounter continued to rise, as did the number of yellow cards (nine in total), but despite numerous opportunities at both ends, neither side could conjure up a winner.
The other games
Manchester City 2-1 Villarreal
Manchester City, whose disappointing start to the competition had already put their qualification chances in doubt, virtually relaunched their Champions League campaign with a last-gasp victory over Villarreal. Stunned by Ruben Cani’s early goal, the Citizens showed resolve to pull themselves back into the match, even if their equaliser did not arrive until just before half-time, when Aleksandar Kolarov’s low cross was knocked into his own net by Carlos Marchena. And City would have to wait until second-half injury time to grab the winner, substitute Sergio Aguero joyfully turning Pablo Zabaleta’s cross into the back of the net.
CSKA Moscow 3-0 Trabzonspor
Lille 0-1 Inter Milan
Trabzonspor’s time at the top of Group B proved short-lived, as they were beaten heavily by a CSKA Moscow team led by an on-form strikeforce of Vagner Love and Seydou Doumbia, who provided two accurate assists and two clinical finishes respectively. The success breathes life into the Russians’ campaign, and the same could be said of Inter Milan, who pulled off a crucial win in Lille. Giampaolo Pazzini put away I Nerazzurri’s only real chance of the night, and the Italians defended solidly for the remainder of the game to maintain an important result.
Otelul Galati 0-2 Manchester United
Basel 0-2 Benfica
Manchester United picked up their first win in the competition in Romania, as Wayne Rooney did the damage with two goals from the spot. It was a satisfactory outcome for the Red Devils, especially taking into account the red card received by captain Nemanja Vidic and Otelul Galati’s scoring chances on the night. United can now look forward to this weekend’s Manchester derby with confidence. In the section’s other match, Benfica’s skill and experience proved too much for Basel, with fine goals from Bruno Cesar and Oscar Cardozo securing the points for the Portuguese heavyweights.
Real Madrid 4-0 Lyon
Dinamo Zagreb 0-2 Ajax
Real Madrid, whose previous results against Lyon – three defeats, four draws and one solitary victory – in Europe’s premier club tournament have left a lot to be desired, made light work of the French side on Tuesday evening, as goals from Karim Benzema, Sami Khedira and Sergio Ramos sealed a victory in which Mesut Ozil played a highly influential role. The gap between the teams was large enough to enable Jose Mourinho, on his return to the Real bench, to give some of his other squad players a run-out halfway through the second half. Elsewhere, goals from Derk Boerrigter and Christian Eriksen earned Ajax a precious victory in a lively encounter in Zagreb. The Dutch club now sit second in the group, and will fancy their chances of reaching the knockout stages.
Following his excellent brace against Trabzonspor, CSKA Moscow forward Seydou Doumbia has now chalked up four goals in three Champions League encounters. The excellent understanding the Ivoirian enjoys with Vagner Love was evident from the home side’s first goal, when the Brazilian striker returned a one-two with a delightful backheel. Doumbia has notched an impressive 32 goals in 46 matches for the Russian side this season.
Goal of the night
Basel 0-1 Benfica (Bruno Cesar 20)
Rodrigo, lurking with intent for Benfica on the edge of the box, dummied a pass from the right, flummoxing the Basel defence in the process. Bruno Cesar, waiting behind his team-mate, had enough time to adjust his footing and steer the ball past goalkeeper Yann Sommer for a superbly worked opening goal.
100 – The number of Champions League matches in which 38-year-old Javier Zanetti has now participated. Inter Milan’s evergreen Argentinian, who is now in his 16th season with the club and seemingly sets a new longevity-related record every month, made his debut in the tournament in a 4-0 win over Latvian outfit Skonto Riga on 12 August 1998.
Have your say
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