With the exception of Juventus, who were held to an unexpected 1-1 draw in Copenhagen, Europe’s powerhouses got their UEFA Champions League group stage campaigns off to a flying start on Tuesday. The award for performance of the night undoubtedly goes to Real Madrid, who dismantled Galatasaray 6-1 in Istanbul.
Cristiano Ronaldo celebrated his contract extension with his first hat-trick of the season, while Wayne Rooney, Karim Benzema, Shakhtar Donetsk midfielder Alex Teixeira and PSG defender Thiago Motta all collected a brace.
The defending champions showed no sign of opening-night nerves at the Allianz Arena, imposing their game on a Moscow side that spent long spells chasing after the ball. In what was their 276th match in Europe’s premier club competition, the Bavarians scored twice in the first half from free kicks: a well-placed one from Austrian defender David Alaba and a floated effort from Arjen Robben that Mario Mandzukic steered into the net with his head. Philipp Lahm – who was playing in his 90th Champions League encounter – and his colleagues then proceeded to seal the points in the second period through a close-range Robben effort.
The other games
David Moyes’ Manchester United put in an impressive attacking display that Alex Ferguson would have been proud of against a German outfit that struggled to hold on to the ball. Wayne Rooney opened the scoring after excellent play by Robin Van Persie and Patrice Evra down the left.
After a rare Leverkusen foray lead to a second-half equaliser, United reacted strongly to retake the lead via an acrobatic Van Persie goal, before Rooney and Antonio Valencia put the result beyond doubt.
In the Anoeta Stadium in San Sebastian, Real Sociedad’s Champions League inexperience came back to haunt them as they were undone by a counter-attacking away side that pounced on the rare occasions that came their way.
Shakhtar stalwart Darijo Srna was at the source of the opener, slipping the ball to Douglas Costa in the box, who sent a neat backheel in the direction of fellow Brazilian Alex Teixeira, who fired past the home goalkeeper. The former Vasco da Gama man subsequently added a second two minutes from time.
The first half in Istanbul turned out just as many had predicted, with both teams showing good commitment, but it was tainted somewhat by injuries to both Iker Casillas and Didier Drogba, who had to be transported to hospital.
After Isco had broken the deadlock, Galatasaray pushed forward in search of a leveller, leaving acres of space for Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema to exploit, which they did with aplomb. The final score may have been slightly harsh on the Turks, but Carlo Ancelotti will nevertheless be extremely pleased with his charges’ showing.
Meanwhile, Juventus fought back from 1-0 down – a 14th-minute Nicolai Jorgensen strike – to rescue a point through Fabio Quagliarella early in the second half. The Turin side then had numerous chances to win the match, but were denied by poor finishing and a remarkable goalkeeping display from Johan Willand.
Initially troubled by a Greek team determined to take the game to their opponents, PSG took a good hour to find their usual rhythm. Edinson Cavani had got the Parisians off to a good start, but Vladimir Weiss brought the Kokkini level in the 25th minute with an eye-catching individual goal.
After the break, PSG's Thiago Motta took matters into his own hands, powering home two similar headers from Ezequiel Lavezzi corners, prior to turning provider and floating a ball onto the head of Marquinhos, who made it 4-1.
Elsewhere, Benfica went ahead after just four minutes in Lisbon, Serbian Filip Djuricic taking advantage of a handling error by Anderlecht custodian Silvio Proto to poke the ball into the net. The Portuguese giants put themselves in the driving seat on the half-hour mark with a goal from Luisao, and withstood significant Belgian pressure in the second period to claim the three points.
Viktoria Plzen 0-3 Manchester City
Manchester City had to wait 48 minutes before securing a lead in the Czech Republic, after missing several chances in the first half. Edin Dzeko’s left-footed effort was swiftly followed by an outstanding long-range strike from Yaya Toure. Sergio Aguero, arguably the best player on the pitch, made it three with a shot on the turn four minutes later.
23-year-old Olympiacos star Vladimir Weiss gave the PSG defence some disconcerting moments in Piraeus, constantly switching flanks and directly taking on his opposite number.
In addition, the diminutive Slovakian winger nabbed a delightful goal after 25 minutes, first ridding himself of the attentions of Maxwell, then nutmegging Marquinhos, dribbling round Thiago Silva and calmly slipping the ball past Salvatore Sirigu in the Parisian net.
Galatasaray 0-1 Real Madrid (Isco 33)
Effortlessly cushioning a long crossfield pass from Angel Di Maria on his left foot, Isco exhibited a cool head and fine technique to skip away from his marker and slot the ball firmly into the back of the net off the base of the right post.
4 – The minute in which the first goal of this year’s group stage was scored, Bayern Munich’s David Alaba doing the honours via a looping long-range free kick. The record for the quickest goal notched on Matchday 1 still belongs to Brazilian forward Alexandre Pato, however, who netted for AC Milan against Barcelona on 13 September 2011 after just 24 seconds.
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