Champs begin slowly, trio of former winners shine
Four months to the day after being crowned European champions for the very first time, Chelsea had to content themselves with a 2-2 draw with Juventus, while Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Manchester United all did just enough, respectively seeing off Spartak Moscow, Valencia and Galatasaray in closely contested encounters.
The only two away wins secured during the second instalment of Matchday 1 in the UEFA Champions League were recorded by the tournament’s surprise packages, Romanian side Cluj, who defeated Braga 2-0, and Belarusian outfit Bate Borisov, who beat Lille 3-1. FIFA.com rounds up all of the action from Wednesday night.
The big game
Chelsea 2-2 Juventus
Goals: Oscar 31, 33 (Chelsea); Arturo Vidal 38, Fabio Quagliarella 81 (Juventus)
Chelsea’s new wave of talent, represented by Oscar, Juan Mata and Eden Hazard, came close to bringing Juventus’ long unbeaten run to an end in London on Wednesday evening. During a breathless first half, young Brazilian protégé Oscar placed two unstoppable shots past Gianluigi Buffon from outside the box to give the English club a welcome two-goal cushion.
But La Vecchia Signora showed experience and composure by refusing to panic, and grabbed a lifeline before half-time through a low Arturo Vidal strike. In the second period, the match swung backwards and forwards, with both teams enjoying 50 per cent of the possession.
In the end, it was substitute Fabio Quagliarella who found a way through the Chelsea rearguard, calmly slotting the ball between Petr Cech’s legs for a deserved equaliser. The same player might well have won the game towards the end, but he saw his shot clip the top of the crossbar.
The other games
Shakhtar Donetsk 2-0 Nordsjaelland
While Group E’s big guns were cancelling each other out, Danish champions Nordsjaelland were experiencing a difficult tournament debut, as Shakhtar emerged victorious in Donetsk via a brace from Henrik Mkhitaryan, his second coming during a second half completely dominated by the Ukrainians.
Lille 1-3 Bate Borisov
Bayern Munich 2-1 Valencia
Goals from Bastian Schweinsteiger and Toni Kroos helped a comfortable-looking Bayern side reacquaint themselves with success after enduring the massive disappointment of last season’s final. The scoreline could have been even more convincing had Valencia goalkeeper Diego Alves not managed to save a Mario Mandzukic penalty in injury time.
Lille, meanwhile, made a terrible start in their brand new stadium on a night that belonged to BATE Borisov, who led 3-0 after 43 minutes and went on to pick up their first-ever Champions League win.
Barcelona 3-2 Spartak Moscow
Celtic 0-0 Benfica
Deprived of captain Carles Puyol and star midfield man Andres Iniesta, Barcelona struggled for 75 minutes against a Russian side playing a counter-attacking style to perfection, to the extent that they led at Camp Nou for a significant portion of the second half.
But a goal and an assist from the burgeoning Cristian Tello as well as some clinical finishing by Lionel Messi, who scored his 52nd and 53rd goals in the competition, handed coach Tito Vilanova a winning Champions League debut, even if it was one that he may suffer nightmares about over the coming days.
In Glasgow, the clash of two former winners from the 1960s turned into a tight affair, during which the Scots were unable to unlock a solid Portuguese defence.
Manchester United 1-0 Galatasaray
Braga 0-2 Cluj
Michael Carrick scored an early opener to settle the nerves of the Manchester faithful, exchanging passes with Shinji Kagawa and Robin van Persie before rounding Nestor Muslera in the Galatasaray goal. But United proved incapable of consolidating their lead against a Turkish team that battled hard for every loose ball.
Elsewhere, Cluj pulled off one of the results of the night in northern Portugal, despite being on the back foot for the majority of their encounter with Braga. A double from Rafael Bastos and a high-quality display from keeper Mario Felgueiras enabled the Romanians to pocket all three points.
Brazilian Rafael Bastos, whose varied career has taken him all over the globe, did not waste time in exerting revenge on ex-employers Braga, a club that the attacking midfielder left after just a handful of games due to a disagreement with the coach.
Visibly motivated by the idea of facing his former team-mates, the 27-year-old bagged a brace on the night, the second of which he is likely to remember for quite some time. Bursting into the box from the left flank, Bastos escaped the attention of three Braga defenders before spectacularly blasting the ball into the roof of the net.
Goal of the night
Barcelona 2-2 Spartak Moscow, Lionel Messi 72
Having registered Barcelona’s opening goal in impressive fashion, Tello set up Messi for a much-needed equaliser during the Catalans’ 3-2 home win over Spartak Moscow. Picking up the ball wide on the left, the Spaniard cut inside to rid himself of his marker, Aiden McGeady, before delivering an accurate low pass from the byline to the Argentinian goal machine, who stroked the ball into the back of the Russian net.
200 – The number of European Cup/UEFA Champions League matches played by Benfica following their game with Celtic. The Lisbon club’s record in the tournament is highly creditable: 94 wins, 46 draws and 60 losses.
Have your say
After this opening round of games, which team can you see causing the most surprises in this year’s competition?
Player Statistics »
- Lionel MESSI »
- Cristian TELLO »
- Fabio QUAGLIARELLA »
- Arturo VIDAL »
- OSCAR »
- Eden HAZARD »
- Gianluigi BUFFON »
- Juan MATA »
- Petr CECH »
- Henrikh MKHITARYAN »
- Bastian SCHWEINSTEIGER »
- Toni KROOS »
- Mario MANDZUKIC »
- DIEGO ALVES »
- Andres INIESTA »
- Carles PUYOL »
- Michael CARRICK »
- Fernando MUSLERA »
- Robin VAN PERSIE »
- Shinji KAGAWA »
- Aiden McGEADY »