Skip to content

Winners, losers from Champions League Wednesday

Sep 19, 2012, 6:20 PM EDT

FC Barcelona v FC Spartak Moscow - UEFA Champions League Getty Images

Yesterday, one match stole the show, and while Italian champions Juventus made sure Wednesday had plenty of drama, the second day of UEFA Champions League was defined by individual performances. Four players gave multigoal efforts, from the expected (Messi), to the prospective (Oscar), to the practically unknown (Mkhitayran):

WINNERS

1. Lionel Messi, forward, Barcelona - If you needed a reminder of who’s the game’s best player, (a) where have you been, and (b) Lionel Messi’s here for you. The leading scorer in each of the last four Champions Leagues, Messi pulled Barcelona even in the 72nd minute, the favorites facing a shock 2-1 deficit. Then, 10 minutes before time, the reigning world player of the year scored his second of the night, staving off Spartak Moscow’s upset bid as Barça went on to win, 3-2.

2. The little guy - It was a huge day for two teams expected to be bottom feeders. Belarusian champions BATE Borisov were the more impressive of the two, at one time holding a three-goal lead at the Grand Stade on their way to a 3-1 upset of Lille. Just to the west, Romanian champions CFR Cluj got two Rafael Bastos goals in the first 34 minutes, cruising to a 2-0 win at Sporting Braga.

3. Midfield marksman - Bastos wasn’t the only midfielder to bag two on Wednesday. We covered Oscar’s exploits in our Chelsea-Juventus breakdown, the 21-year-old Brazilian’s first half goals giving Chelsea an early 2-0 lead (before being drawn, 2-2). In Donetsk, 23-year-old Armenian Henrikh Mkhitaryan scored twice, pushing his season total to 14 (in 10 games) as Shakhtar beat Danish champions Nordsjaelland, 2-0. Learn the name now, people: HEN*rikh Mk*HIT*ar*yan.

4. Bayern Munich - Bayern seems intent on making up for last May, when they lost the Champions League final on their home field. Perfect through three rounds in Germany, Bayern carried over their domestic form into today’s match, posting a convincing victory over visiting Valencia. FCB was up 2-0 going into the final minutes when a Nelson Haedo Valdez score (and a Mario Mandzukic missed penalty) left a final, deceptive, 2-1 victory.

LOSERS

1. Roberto Di Matteo, manager, Chelsea - One result is not enough to start asking questions of the new Chelsea boss, but when your team comes from ahead to draw, you have to take inventory of the manager’s part. Aside from Oscar’s individual brilliance (and some flashes from Eden Hazard), Chelsea offered little going forward, and after going up 2-0, the defending champions lacked the desire and composure to see off their opponents. Chelsea should have won this match, particularly given the lead Oscar spotted them, but seeing how they played out the final 57 minutes, you wonder if they even knew how.

Di Matteo got this job after success bunkering in and holding out against Barcelona and Bayern Munich. Now that Chelsea’s back to being the hunted, what’s the next page in the playbook?

2. Portugal - From two winnable matches, Benfica and Braga got only one point. Benfica’s result is acceptable if predictable, with Scottish champions Celtic able to get a home point from a match where the teams combined for two shots on target. Ideally, Benfica would get three points in these types of games, but still regrouping after some key offseason losses, the Eagles had to settle for one.

Braga, however, were worrisome. Two years ago, they started their Champions League history with a 6-0 home loss to Arsenal. Today’s loss to CFR Cluj is even more crushing. If Galatasaray gets full points from Cluj in Istanbul, Braga may be looking at a return to Europa League (at best).

3. Lille fans - On the first Champions League night for their new 50,186-seat venue, Lille fans should have expected more. BATE – picked to finish at the bottom of the group – were up 3-0 at half time, with only Aurelien Chedjou’s 60th minute goal keeping the night from being a complete waste. Can you imagine being a fan, going to the ground expecting a relatively easy win, only to be down 3-0 at intermission? And on the stadium’s first Champions League night?

Coming off a disappointing fourth place finish in last year’s group, Lille should have been up for this match. Instead, they got embarrassed by a team who had to win three playoff rounds to make group stage.

4. Lingering memories - Like Bayern, Barcelona and Manchester United had bitter exists to last year’s tournament. Today, each club got off to on the right note. Bayern, after losing last year’s final on penalty kicks, showed they’re still one of the best teams in Europe. Barcelona, shocked by Chelsea in last year’s semis, got a win in Tito Vilanova’s Champions League debut. And Manchester United, amazingly eliminated in the group stage last year, rode a spectacular goal from Michael Carrick to a 1-0 win over Galatasaray. Sitting on three points after one round gives each club a new Champions League focus.

Latest Posts
  1. Liverpool complete $17 million signing of Belgian striker Divock Origi

    Jul 29, 2014, 12:37 PM EDT

    Source: Liverpool FC Source: Liverpool FC

    Liverpool sign talented Belgian teenager, will loan him back to Lille this season.

  2. Despite calling African players “banana eaters”, Tavecchio still set to lead Italian FA

    Jul 29, 2014, 12:11 PM EDT

    Italy Federation Racism AP

    Even after calling African players “banana eaters” this man is set lead the Italian FA.

  3. Enner Valencia granted work permit, completes $20 million West Ham move

    Jul 29, 2014, 11:10 AM EDT

    Source: West Ham United Source: West Ham United

    Valencia finally signs on, as Hammers splash the cash in search of goals.

  4. Miami’s MLS future continues to hinge on downtown stadium deal

    Jul 29, 2014, 10:35 AM EDT

    Miami's Arquietectonica and 360 Architecture Miami's Arquietectonica and 360 Architecture

    Garber: “MLS will not expand to Miami unless we have a downtown site for the stadium.”

  5. Tim Howard joins NBC Sports’ Premier League broadcast team on multi-year deal

    Jul 29, 2014, 9:42 AM EDT

    FBL-ENG-PR-EVERTON-NEWCASTLE Getty Images

    Howard to call games, be studio analyst, for up to 10 PL games on NBC Sports this season.

  6. VIDEO: US stars fight – Omar Gonzalez vs. Clint Dempsey, DeAndre Yedlin

    Jul 29, 2014, 9:19 AM EDT

    BtrlWjcCcAAahX9

    A shoving match or something more sinister in Seattle?

  7. Report: Marco Reus chased by Manchester United, Barcelona, Bayern Munich

    Jul 29, 2014, 8:35 AM EDT

    FBL-GER-SUPERCUP-DORTMUND-BAYERN Getty Images

    Borussia Dortmund star turns down new deal, alerts European giants.

  8. Manchester United’s Luke Shaw trains on his own, told he’s “not fit enough”

    Jul 29, 2014, 7:51 AM EDT

    Shaw Getty Images

    England youngster told he’s “not fit enough” and ordered to train on his own by van Gaal. Ouch.

  9. MLS Snapshot: Seattle Sounders 0-3 LA Galaxy

    Jul 29, 2014, 12:37 AM EDT

    Philadelphia Union v Los Angeles Galaxy Getty Images

    Sounders’ tendency to collapse resurfaces during the Galaxy’s biggest win of the season.

  10. Premier, Champions League quotas leave Mourinho desperate to sell Torres

    Jul 28, 2014, 11:07 PM EDT

    Torres Getty Images

    A terrible move could get worse if Chelsea can’t move the Spanish striker.

  11. Vertonghen confirms interest from Barcelona, intends to stay at Tottenham

    Jul 28, 2014, 10:13 PM EDT

    Swindon Town v Tottenham Hotspur - Pre Season Friendly Getty Images

    Belgian international intends to stay at White Hart Lane, with a new, five-year deal on the table.

  12. Van Gaal, Manchester United ready to move on from Fellaini, Kagawa

    Jul 28, 2014, 9:17 PM EDT

    Marouane Fellaini AP

    Napoli, Borussia Dortmund linked to the potential United castoffs.

  13. Radamel Falcao on track to return at weekend’s Emirates Cup

    Jul 28, 2014, 8:22 PM EDT

    FBL-FRA-LIGUE1-PSG-MONACO Getty Images

    Colombian international expected to play Saturday against Valencia.

  14. New York connection: Red Bulls, Cosmos come together on Lade loan

    Jul 28, 2014, 7:37 PM EDT

    New York Red Bulls v DC United - Eastern Conference Semifinals Getty Images

    Time in the NASL will give the 24-year-old needed minutes.

  15. Injured groin sends Rafael home early from Manchester United’s tour

    Jul 28, 2014, 6:48 PM EDT

    rafael Getty Images

    Brazilian’s injury testing United’s depth on the right side.

  16. Danny Williams finally undergoes knee surgery, will miss start of Reading’s season

    Jul 28, 2014, 5:54 PM EDT

    Reading v Blackpool - Sky Bet Championship Getty Images

    U.S. international’s knee surgery will sideline him for “several weeks.”

  17. Rodriguez, Schneiderlin close to joining Pochettino at Tottenham

    Jul 28, 2014, 4:57 PM EDT

    Southampton v Fulham - Premier League Getty Images

    Two Saints look to follow their former manager to North London.

  18. PST’s Major League Soccer Player of the Week: Portland’s Diego Valeri

    Jul 28, 2014, 4:03 PM EDT

    Diego Valeri's fifth goal of the season, his second game-winner in a row, gave Portland a 3-2 win in Montréal. (Credit: AP) AP

    Timber’s game-winning goal in Montréal separated him from a tight field.

  19. After Balotelli, Martinez take “selfies” with pitch invaders, should we be worried?

    Jul 28, 2014, 3:20 PM EDT

    Source, Twitter: @NA_B27 Source, Twitter: @NA_B27

    After two on-pitch selfie’s occur with players over the weekend, security needs to be stepped up.