BY DAN KARELL
The UEFA Champions League swung back into action last night, with goals galore from Tuesday night’s matches.
Italian leaders Juventus soundly defeated Scotland giants Celtic 3-0 in front of a raucous crowd at Parkhead, leaving Neil Lennon to proclaim that only a miracle would allow his side to advance to the next round. Alessandro Matri gave the visitors a dream start, scoring three minutes in and taking a one goal lead. Second half goals by Claudio Marchisio and Mirko Vucinic put the game away for the Old Lady. Even worse for Celtic, midfielder Kris Commons blamed teammate Efe Ambrose in public for the defeat following the match.
Meanwhile in Spain, Paris Saint-Germain defeated Valencia 2-1 off of first-half goals from Ezequiel Lavezzi and Javier Pastore, though star forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic was sent off in injury time after 90 minutes. Valencia scored one back just before Ibrahimovic’s dismissal, but it was too late to grab another to tie the match. Now, Valencia will have it all to do in the bubbling cauldron that is the Parc des Princes in four week’s time.
Here are some other stories to get your Wednesday started:
SOUTH AMERICAN CLUBS IN ACTION AS COPA LIBERTADORES GROUP STAGE OPENS UP
The 2013 Copa Libertadores Group Stage kicked off last night with three matches, two of them involving Ecuadorian teams.
In Group 1, Nacional of Uruguay drew with Barcelona of Ecuador by a score of 2-2. Barcelona scored the match’s first two goals, taking a resounding lead into halftime, but the Uruguayan side kept pushing and managed a game tying goal in the 3rd minute of injury time to save a point.
In Group 4, Emelec of Ecuador defeated Velez Sarsfield of Argentina 1-0, thanks to an own goal from Sarsfield forward Facundo Ferreyra, while in Group 7, Chilean side Universidad de Chile opened their account with a 2-0 win over Venezuala’s Deportivo Lara, with both goals from either side of halftime finished by Chilean striker Sebastian Ubilla.
HOLTBY HAS EUROPA LEAGUE TITLE ASPIRATIONS
New Tottenham Hotspur signing Lewis Holtby believes his side can capture the Europa League crown, as their team goes through preparations for their upcoming match against Lyon on Thursday.
The young German midfielder made his first start for Tottenham last Saturday, as Spurs defeated Newcastle 2-1. Using his former experience in the Europa League at Schalke, Holtby is confident that Tottenham have the quality to win the title held by Atletico Madrid.
Spurs have been in fine form in the Premier League and FA Cup, where they have yet to record a defeat since December 9. Currently the side are in fourth place in the Premier League, and just one point behind third place Chelsea.
Liverpool have written to Russian side Zenit St. Petersburg in advance of their Europa League meeting because of the English club’s concern over possible racist incidents. (REPORT)
Bayern Munich forward Mario Gomez won’t be leaving the Allianz Arena this summer, says the German international’s agent. (REPORT)
Brazilian side Gremio have had to close the north end of their stadium due to damage caused by their fan’s traditional goal celebration, nicknamed the “Avalanche”. (REPORT)
TSG Hoffenheim players Tim Wiese and Tobias Weis have both been fined by their club after being thrown out of a carnival. (REPORT)
What do you think of these reports? Did you expect Juventus to win in the fashion they did? Was Zlatan’s red card legitimate? Do you believe Tottenham can hoist the Europa League title?
Share your thoughts below.
Ives, I read an article recently arguing in favor of MLS teams playing in Copa Lib. In your opinion, do you see that as a future possibility? In a purely hypothetical scenario where CONMEBOL invites MLS to play, would the benefits of prize money and exposure outweigh the high cost of travel?
I agree, that’s a foregone conclusion, but I don’t think losing is necessarily a bad thing for MLS teams. Playing a higher level competition would only help players improve. But winning and developing players would be secondary to earning money and growing exposure, from an MLS perspective. Playing against CONMEBOL teams, especially the home games in the US, would help MLS grow its fanbase. Case in point, casual soccer fans are much more likely to come out for a Galaxy game versus Santos or Boca Juniors than TFC or Puerto Rico Islanders.