There were a few surprises and some very impressive performances on Wednesday’s UEFA Champions League action. From CFR Cluj holding Chelsea to a draw, to Bremen earning a point at the San Siro against Inter Milan, not everything went according to plan for the tournament favorites.
Here is a rundown of the scores:
- Bordeaux 1, Roma 3
- CFR Cluj 0, Chelsea 0
- Anorthosis Famagusta 3, Panathinaikos 1
- Inter Milan 1, Werder Bremen 1
- Shakhtar Donetsk 1, Barcelona 2
- Sporting Lisbon 2, FC Basel 0
- Atletico Madrid 2, Marseille 1
- Liverpool 3, PSV Eindhoven 1
SBI correspondent James Tyler took in quite a bit of this week’s Champions League action and gives us his look back at Tuesday and Wednesday’s games of Matchday Two:
A look back at Matchday Two
By JAMES TYLER
It wasn’t a bad week to sit back and enjoy some European soccer. I enjoy seeing big teams struggle, especially when all the obscure, tiny Eastern European teams are turning out to be rather competent on the pitch. It’s fun when the punchline evolves to become something more. Just ask Scolari, or Howard Webb, or Claudio Ranieri.
This had all the trappings of a dull group. Spartak London and a Serie A team? Who cares who the other participants are? Why are we even bothering to play all 6 group rounds?
And yet, on a grainy, bootleg Setanta feed, I watched Spartak London get rather rattled by the Romanian champions CFR Cluj. If you hadn’t heard of them before, I suggest you hit Wikipedia, as the rush to buy Russian strikers and wingers in the summer on the heels of their Euro ’08 performances might surely translate to a Cluj firesale to Western Europe in January.
Three gilt-edge chances for the Romanians, a serious injury to Didier Drogba, a 0-0 draw, and a ton of questions for Lampard and co. as they come home and attempt to figure out where their goals are coming from for the next few months.
Meanwhile, Roma rebounded from a home defeat to Cluj with a 3-1 win away in France. Beating a Ligue 1 team? I never thought I’d see the day…
Bordeaux took the lead early, had a man sent off and dissolved in the 2nd half as Vucinic equalized and Julio Baptista grabbed a brace. Relief in the capital tonight.
The big Cyprus/Greece showdown was a shocker, as Anorthosis Famagusta jumped out to a 2-0 lead within 16 minutes and never looked back. It was never close despite a penalty for Panathanaikos before half-time, and Mulla Mohammed restored the 2-goal lead to win comfortably, 3-1.
For The Special One, it was not so comfortable. Inter took an early lead thanks to some lucky bounces (and a referee that plays advantage!) and a cool finish by Sisenando Maicon. Werder Bremen’s former Chelsea "striker" (I use the term loosely) Claudio Pizarro, a man who did play under Mourinho, finally managed to convert a chance on the hour mark, and Milan dropped 2 points at home ending with a 1-1 draw.
Howard Webb, the pudgy English ref, isn’t very popular in parts of the Ukraine tonight, after his four minutes of added time at the death allowed Lionel Messi to steal a thoroughly undeserved away win at Shakhtar Donetsk. Maybe I can console them, as I know how that feels; that 2-2 draw at Aston Villa last season, after leading 2-0 up to the 80th or so minute, led me to rest my head in a microwave. Messi’s winner was brilliant, but it should never have happened. Ah well, there’s always that game in two weeks. You hate seeing teams get robbed like that, unless they’re Everton.
And Sporting beat Basle. Catch the excitement!
My favourite group, mainly because it’s virtually concluded. Can Atletico and Anfield start printing tickets for the knockout rounds? Two convincing home wins at a canter for the pair; Atletico’s Kun Aguero keeps adding millions to his eventual transfer fee to the EPL with an early goal, and despite Mamadou Niang’s equalizer, the tie didn’t last long thanks to Raul Garcia’s smart redirect of Mariano Pernia’s free-kick.
For Liverpool, Kuyt scored within the first five minutes, Keane finally opened his LFC account with a well-taken half-volley, and Gerrard’s goal (his 100th for the club, 72 of which were scored under Goatee Benitez) was superb, a sharp blast from 25 yards out that left Andreas Isaksson no chance.
Book ’em: Torres’ current club and his old club are home free already!
Man United had a comfortable win, notable for two things, neither of them especially good: Berbatov bagged his first two goals for the club, and Scholes wrecked his leg and will miss two or three months.
As for Celtic, Gordon Strachan’s explosive 4-5-1 defensive strategy down in Spain left them empty-handed thanks to Marcos Senna’s free-kick midway through the 2nd half.
I pronounce this group virtually over as well. This predictions lark is easy!
I couldn’t care less about any of these teams. Bayern dropped points at home to Lyon in a rather dull 1-1 draw, and Fiorentina really seized the opportunity to gain control of the group by drawing 0-0 at home to Steaua Bucuresti.
Good week for Romanian teams, really.
Oh, Arsenal. This is twice now that you’ve been shamed in the EPL by a team you should soundly beat, only to emerge midweek in the Big Cup with essentially the same starting XI who then embarrass and dismantle the opposition. Sad, but oh so entertaining. It was Porto to get the broomstick this time as Arsenal won at a canter; braces for Adebayor and Van Persie will do wonders to distract from the disappointments at home.
In the other game, Kiev battled for an away draw at Fenerbahce, which I’m sure was thrilling. I bet Colin Kazim-Kazim did well. I wouldn’t know though, because ESPN2 only shows those limey teams, not that I’m complaining.
More fun in Eastern Europe! I swear, one of these days I need to get off my arse and go back to Prague. Had a magical time there in 2000, before the Euro came along, but I bet that region still knows how to have a good time.
Ask Juventus, or Real Madrid. BATE Borisov, the small Belarussian team founded in 1973 named after a company (it’s true: BATE = Borisov Automobile and Tractor Electrical), had Juventus on the ropes. It took two goals from Vincenzo Iaquinta to snatch a draw after BATE went up 2-0 early in the first half.
Real Madrid had slightly less difficulty in taking a 2-1 win away at Zenit St. Petersburg, who wasted several chances (nice one Arshavin, aka the one who stayed) in the second half to get even. Maybe Pavlyuchenko really is the missing piece of the puzzle. He’s not scoring for Spurs either, if there’s any consolation.
The next round sees the following (my predictions in brackets):
Tuesday, 21 October 2008
- Man Utd v Celtic (3-1 Man U)
- Villarreal v AaB (3-0 Villareal)
- Bayern Munich v Fiorentina (1-0 Bayern)
- Steaua Bucuresti v Lyon (0-0)
- FC Porto v Dynamo Kiev (1-1)
- Fenerbahce v Arsenal (1-1)
- Juventus v Real Madrid (2-1 Real)
- Zenit St Petersburg v BATE Borisov (ahh what the heck… 2-1 BATE)
Wednesday, 22 October 2008
- Bordeaux v CFR Cluj-Napoca (1-0 Cluj)
- Spartak London v Roma (4-1 Spartak)
- Inter Milan v Anorthosis Famagusta (There’s no way Inter loses, right? 2-0 Inter)
- Panathinaikos v Werder Bremen (1-0 Werder)
- Basle v Barcelona (3-0 Barca)
- Shakhtar Donetsk v Sporting (0-0)
- Atletico Madrid v Liverpool (2-2)
- PSV v Marseille (1-0 Marseille)
What did you think of this week’s results? Were you shocked to see Chelsea held? Surprised to see Barcelona have so much trouble with Shakhtar Donetsk? Impressed with Liverpool’s continued stellar form?
Share your thoughts below.