Champions League – Matchday 3 Review

Matchday 3 of the Champions League saw an injury-time Aguero strike keep Manchester City’s hopes of making the knock-out phase alive. Wayne Rooney made history in Manchester United’s 2-0 victory in Bucharest while Inter Milan and Real Madrid continued their march to the last 16 on an eventful Tuesday night’s action.


Group A

Manchester City left it late but a Sergio Aguero goal 3 minutes into injury time earned Roberto Mancini’s team a 2-1 victory at the expense of Villarreal at the Etihad Stadium. The Spanish side silenced the home crowd with a shock opening goal after only 4 minutes had elapsed when Cani reacted quickest to a rebounded shot that cannoned off Joe Hart to slide home from close range.

City began without the attacking services of Aguero or the suspended Tevez but set about getting back into the game through the midfield promptings of David Silva and Adam Johnson having fallen behind. The Premier League side were rewarded with a merited equaliser just before the interval when the excellent Aleksandar Kolarov’s low cross was diverted into the Villarreal goal by the unfortunate Marchena.

A subdued second half saw a quiet Etihad Stadium crowd struggle to inspire their team as Villarreal looked set for a hard earned draw. Time was almost up when a low centre across the Villarreal goal was turned in by substitute Aguero to earn Manchester City their first ever Champions League victory. City celebrated saving their Champions League campaign at the final whistle while Villarreal protested Ageuro’s winner (claiming offside) to the referee and his assistant.

Bayern Munich’s 100% Champions League record ended with a 1-1 draw away to Napoli in the Stadio San Paolo in Naples but the Bundesliga side remains top of Group A. Toni Kroos broke the deadlock after 2 minutes when the German international turned in a fine cross centre by Jerome Boateng.

12 successive Bayern Munich clean sheets finally came to an end in the 39th minute however when Badstuber put through his own net. Christian Maggio’s cross cannoned off Badstuber as he slid in attempting a clearance giving the Munich goalkeeper no chance to earn battling Napoli a deserved point. Bayern wasted a glorious opportunity to clinch all 3 points when Mario Gomes missed a second half penalty and a see-saw battle ended 1-1.

Next Up
Group A – Matchday 4: Bayern Munich vs. Napoli in the Allianz Arena, Munich and Villarreal vs. Manchester City in Estadio El Madrigal.


Group B

Inter Milan put their recent domestic woes and worst ever start to Serie A season behind them when Claudio Ranieri’s squad defeated Lille 1-0 away in France to move 2 points clear at the summit of Group B on Tuesday night.

Giampaolo Pazzini netted the only goal of a tight encounter in the 21st minute when the Italian international volleyed home just inside the penalty area from a Zarate cross. Inter’s second win of their European campaign leaves the Italian side on 6 points from 3 games and 2 clear of both CSKA and Trabzonspor. Lille remain rooted to the bottom of Group B on 2 points.

CSKA Moscow recorded their biggest ever win in the Champions League following a comprehensive 3-0 win at home to Trabzonspor on Tuesday night to join the Turks on 4 points in Group B. Seydou Doumbia opened the scoring on the half hour with a neat finish following a beautiful back heel from Vagner Love.

Trabzonspor wasted a succession of chances to draw level and were made to pay for their profligacy in front of goal when Aleksandrs Cauna made it 2-0 late in the second half. Doumbia sealed CSKA’s 3-0 win with his fourth Champions League goal 5 minutes from time and what a strike it was.

The Ivorian international scored a magnificent effort, looping his shot over a diving Tolga Zengin to cap an impressive individual display and reignite the Moscow club’s hopes of making the knockout phase of the competition.

Next Up
Group B – Matchday 4: Trabzonspor vs. CSKA Moscow in the Huseyin Avni Aker Stadium and Inter Milan vs. Lille in the San Siro, Milan.


Group C

Wayne Rooney made history on Tuesday night by becoming the top-scoring Englishman in Champions League history with his 25th and 26th European goals in Manchester United’s 2-0 victory away to FC Otelul Galati in Bucharest.

A scoreless first half saw Galati go in the happier side at the interval until United moved up a gear in the second period and took control of proceedings. A Wayne Rooney centre was handled in the area and the England International made no mistake from the ensuing spot-kick to push United 1-0 in front after 63 minutes.

The home side were handed a lifeline when Nemandja Vidic was sent off shortly afterwards for a poor tackle on Gabriel Giurgiu. United called on all their European experience to see out the remainder of the tie and Wayne Rooney secured the Old Trafford club’s first win of the 2011-12 Champions League campaign with a second penalty deep into injury time.

Benfica went top of Group C following an impressive 2-0 victory away to FC Basel at St. Jakob Park on Tuesday night. Bruno Cesar netted his second European strike in two games to break the deadlock. Argentinean international Aimar put Cesar through and the Benfica striker made no mistake with a clinical finish from just inside the penalty area.

The Portuguese side secured a 2-0 win when Oscar Cardozo scored direct from a 25 yard free-kick in the 75th minute to push Benfica 2 points clear at the top of Group C at the halfway stage of the opening phase. Benfica remain unbeaten in all competitions this season and a win on Matchday 4 will see the Portuguese side through to the knockout phase.

Next Up
Group C – Matchday 4: Benfica vs. FC Basel in the Estadio do Sport Lisboa e Benfica in Lisbon and Manchester United vs. Otelul Galati at Old Trafford, Manchester.


Group D

Real Madrid kept the impressive 100% Champions League record intact and powered to the top of Group D following a 4-0 thumping of Ligue 1 outfit Lyon in the Santiago Bernabeu. An early Mesut Ozil corner caused panic in the Lyon penalty area after 19 minutes and former Lyon striker and French international Karim Benzema stabbed into the net from 6 yards for a 1-0 lead.

Sami Khedira doubled Madrid’s lead shortly after the break when the German international tapped home after good approach work from Benzema. 2-0 became 3-0 with Benzema involved once again just before the hour mark. Ozil was on the end of a flowing Real move to slip a near post effort in off goalkeeper Lloris for an unfortunate own goal.

The scoring was completed in the 81st minute when Sergio Ramos connected with a Kaka corner to fire home at the second attempt and push Real Madrid to the brink of qualification for the knockout phase. Ajax scored their first Champions League goals of the campaign in a richly deserved 2-0 victory away to Dinamo Zagreb. A dull opening half ended scoreless but the opening goal finally arrived in the 50th minute when Miralem Sulejmani’s run and pass found Derk Boerrigter’s who curled a cracking effort into the net for a 1-0 Ajax lead.

Christian Eriksen cemented Ajax’s first Champions League win of the season with a second goal in injury time to elevate the Dutch side into joint-second in Group D alongside Lyon on 4 points apiece while Zagreb remain bottom still searching for their first point.

Next Up
Group D – Matchday 4: Lyon vs. Real Madrid at the Stade de Gerland in Lyon and Ajax vs. Dinamo Zagreb at the Amsterdam ArenA.


Follow Ger on Twitter: @offcentrecircle

The Author

Ger McCarthy

Author of the book entitled 'Off Centre Circle'. Champions League correspondent for Back Page Football, contributor to the Hold The Back Page football podcast, also a contributor to the Irish Examiner Newspaper, SetantaSports Satellite TV Sports Network, NewsTalk National Radio station, Shoot! Magazine and Dangerhere websites.

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