World Football

Ibra, Ronaldo dazzle as favourites impress

Real Madrid's Portuguese forward Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates after scoring his second goal against Juventus

Real Madrid, Bayern Munich and Paris Saint-Germain followed Atletico Madrid’s lead by making it three wins out of three in the UEFA Champions League on Wednesday evening and all but securing their places in the Round of 16. The evening’s eight games also produced a glut of goals, with 27 being scored in all, an average of 3.37 per match.

The big match
Real Madrid 2-1 Juventus
Goals: Cristiano Ronaldo 4 and 28 pen (Real Madrid); Fernando Llorente 22 (Juventus)

Carlo Ancelotti is starting to make his mark at Real Madrid. Focused on defensive solidity last season, Los Merengues are now giving free expression to their attacking skills, moving the ball around with pace and precision while still enjoying the sharpest of cutting edges up front in the shape of Ronaldo. Juventus held their own for the opening half-hour, with Llorente cancelling out the Portuguese’s opening goal. The Italian champions had no answer to Ronaldo’s surging runs, however, and were reduced to ten men when Giorgio Chiellini was sent off for checking his progress at the start of the second half. The final score did not reflect the home side’s domination, though Juve continued to cause concern on the counter, with Iker Casillas in the Madrid goal looking vulnerable at times. Having collected a mere two points from their opening three games, the Turin giants have much to do. 

The other gamesGroup A
Bayer Leverkusen 4-0 Shakhtar Donetsk
Manchester United 1-0 Real Sociedad

After looking comfortable for the first twenty minutes or so, Shakhtar crumbled as Bayer overran them. Stefan Kiessling grabbed a brace, Simon Rolfes another from a penalty and Sidney Sam completed the scoring for a Leverkusen side who move into second place behind United. Sociedad travelled to Old Trafford more in hope than expectation and after falling behind to an early Inigo Martinez own-goal, rarely threatened. Wayne Rooney was again in inspiring form and forced the error for the game's only goal.

Group B
Galatasaray 3-1 Copenhagen

Galatasaray’s experienced European campaigners were the difference on the night as the Turkish side wrapped things up in the first half. Felipe Melo’s headed goal was followed by strikes from Wesley Sneijder and Didier Drogba. Copenhagen notched a consolation in the second half but it was a case of too little, too late for the Danes. Galatasary now stand two points clear of Juventus, behind Real Madrid.

Group C
Anderlecht 0-5 Paris Saint-Germain
Benfica 1-1 Olympiakos

PSG, and Zlatan Ibrahimovic in particular, were in stunning form against Anderlecht. The imperious Swede bagged four goals, with partner Edinson Cavani adding another. Gregory van der Wiel also stood out, creating chance after chance with his buccaneering runs down the right flank. 

Benfica staged a late comeback to secure a point against Olympiacos, who led after half-an-hour though an Alejandro Dominguez goal. After being frustrated by a well-marshalled Greek defence all night, Paraguayan Oscar Cardoza finally equalised with seven minutes remaining. The return match could well decide which of the two sides make it to the knockout phase of this year’s competition.

Groupe D
CSKA Moscow 1-2 Manchester City
Bayern Munich 5-0 Viktoria Plzen

Despite conceding five times, Plzen goalkeeper Matus Kozacik was in heroic form to prevent the European champions from notching many more on the night. Bayern were irrepressible, and with two-goal Franck Ribery pulling the strings, they laid on some fabulous entertainment for their adoring fans. Sergio Aguero found the net twice in the space of eight minutes before half-time for Manchester City, who were glad to escape from CSKA’s Arena-Khimki with all three points. Joe Hart’s superb reflex save from Keisuke Honda with virtually the last touch of the match secured the spoils for Manuel Pelligrini’s side.

The players
Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Cristiano Ronaldo have enjoyed many a prolific evening in the Champions League and were at it once again on Wednesday. The scorer of a brace against Benfica earlier in the group, the Swede was up to his usual tricks when PSG visited Anderlecht, converting the second of his four goals with an improvised back-heel flick and then completing a first-half hat-trick with a thundering drive from 30 metres out. Not to be outdone, Cristiano Ronaldo struck fear into the hearts of the Juventus defenders, finding the back of the net twice in the first half and also forcing Chiellini‘s dismissal. Ronaldo is now the competition’s top scorer with seven goals in three games, followed by Ibrahimovic with six and Lionel Messi with four. 

The goal
CSKA Moscow 1-0 Manchester City (Zoran Tosic, 32)
Igor Akinfeev’s long clearance was flicked on by Keisuke Honda into the path of Serbian wide man Zoran Tosic, who shrugged off the attentions of a City defender and lobbed the ball neatly over advancing keeper Hart.

The stat
9 - The number of games Manchester United had gone in the competition since their last clean sheet in September 2012, an unwanted run they brought an end to against Real Sociedad.

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Who will advance from Group B with Real Madrid?

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