The second round of fixtures making up Matchday 3 of the UEFA Champions League saw favourites from three of Europe’s major leagues suffer crucial losses, as Real Madrid, Manchester City and Montpellier were overcome by Borussia Dortmund, Ajax and Olympiacos respectively on Wednesday evening.
Elsewhere, Porto and Malaga continued their eye-catching starts, recording their third victories in as many matches, and Schalke impressed in their defeat of Arsenal. While Malaga proved to good at home for Italian giants AC Milan.
FIFA.com reviews all the ups and downs from an intriguing night of continental action.
The big game
Borussia Dortmund 2-1 Real Madrid
Goals: Robert Lewandowski 36, Marcel Schmelzer 64 (Borussia Dortmund); Cristiano Ronaldo 38 (Real Madrid)
The prudent 4-2-3-1 formation selected by Jose Mourinho was found to be not fit for purpose on a night when Borussia Dortmund, whose league form has been patchy of late, put in an electrifying performance, inspired by fine displays by Mario Gotze and Marco Reus.
Stretching a makeshift Real defence this way and that, the German title holders opened the scoring via Robert Lewandowski, who made no mistake after running on to a through ball from Reus, following a poor pass upfield by Madrid defender Pepe.
Cristiano Ronaldo dragged his team-mates back into match two minutes later in typical style, outpacing the home rearguard to pick up Mesut Ozil’s excellent pass and smartly lob the oncoming Roman Weidenfeller. The impressive strike was the Portuguese star’s 43rd goal in the competition.
The intensity of the game rose considerably, and peaked with Dortmund’s winner, the product of some fine work again by Reus and Gotze, whose cross was punched by Iker Casillas to the edge of the box, where Marcel Schmelzer was lying in wait. The German left-back showed no hesitation, striking the ball cleanly on the half volley into the back of the net for a 2-1 lead that would prove sufficient to claim all three points.
The other games
Porto 3-2 Dynamo Kiev
Dinamo Zagreb 0-2 Paris St Germain
Porto put themselves in the driving seat in Group A by securing their third successive win in this year’s tournament, despite a plucky performance from Dynamo Kiev. The Ukrainian heavyweights twice came back to draw level, but eventually succumbed to Jackson Martinez’s second goal of the night.
Paris St Germain, meanwhile, consolidated their grip on second place in the section with their first away victory in Europe’s premier club competition since 26 November 1997, by defeating a lacklustre Dinamo Zagreb side. Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s opener was his 33rd goal in European competition.
Arsenal 0-2 Schalke
Montpellier 1-2 Olympiacos
Lacking in imagination and seemingly unable to put together any form of coherent attack, Arsenal had a decidedly bad day at the office, proving incapable of dealing with the explosive Jefferson Farfan and the fearsome strikeforce of Klaas-Jan Huntelaar and Ibrahim Afellay.
In a match where it took the home team until stoppage time to muster a shot on target, Afellay was particularly influential for Schalke, setting up Huntelaar for the Germans’ first goal, before getting on the end of a low Farfan cross to seal the win, and send the Gelsenkirchen outfit to the top of the table in the process.
Montpellier conceded their second home defeat, despite taking the lead once again at Stade de la Mosson. Vasilis Torosidis and Konstantinos Mitroglou turned the match around in the final twenty minutes for Olympiacos, who consequently picked up their first points in the pool.
Zenit St Petersburg 1-0 Anderlecht
Malaga 1-0 AC Milan
In beating AC Milan in Andalusia, Malaga obtained their third win in a row and moved into pole position in the group. The Italians performed well in the opening 20 minutes, before finding themselves dominated by a team inspired by Joaquin, Isco and Javier Saviola, who showed great skill to see off a Milan side that appears significantly vulnerable at the back.
Following two consecutive reverses, Zenit St Petersburg relaunched their campaign in the Russian rain by scraping past an unfortunate Anderlecht outfit courtesy of an Alexander Kerzhakov penalty. The Belgians will feel aggrieved at not claiming at least a point, but too many missed chances have left them as one of only two participants – Zagreb being the other – not to have hit the back of the net in the three group games played thus far.
Ajax 3-1 Manchester City
Manchester City’s considerable wealth of individual talents proved no match for the fluidity of a youthful Ajax team that finally showed they are not in Group D to simply make up the numbers. The English champions did manage to get off the mark first, Samir Nasri curling home a superb opener.
Siem de Jong’s well-struck equaliser just before half-time sowed the seeds of doubt in City’s ranks, and goals from Finnish defender Niklas Moisander and Danish playmaker Christian Eriksen were just reward for the Amsterdam side, who took the game by the scruff of the neck in the second period. The Citizens now find themselves propping up the section, with qualification appearing increasingly unlikely.
Jackson Martinez, 26 years of age, is the latest South American gem to be unearthed by Porto. The Colombian striker, who was first capped by his national team in 2009, scored a crucial brace against Dynamo Kiev on Wednesday, propelling his team-mates to victory. After starting out at Independiente Medellin, where he spent five productive seasons, he moved to Mexico, going on to find the net 36 times in 64 matches for Chiapas-based Jaguares. Brought in by O Dragões to replace the departing Hulk, he scored on his debut in the Portuguese Super Cup in August.
Goal of the night
Malaga 1-0 AC Milan, Joaquin 64
Manuel Iturra, blocked by a plethora of Italian players on the edge of the box, chipped a pinpoint pass over the defensive blockade for Joaquin, whose well-timed run had beaten the offside trap. Finding himself one-on-one with goalkeeper Marco Amelia, the former Spain international kept his cool to sidefoot the ball in off the bottom of the right-hand post.
1 – The remarkably small number of triumphs enjoyed by Real Madrid in Germany since the 1966/67 season, in 24 UEFA Champions League/European Cup clashes. Los Blancos, who registered their 350th match in the competition in Dortmund, have drawn six and lost 17 of the 23 other encounters with Bundesliga clubs away from home, scoring 22 goals and conceding 56.
Can Manchester City still qualify from Group D?