Skip to content

UEFA Champions League Roundup: Messi lifts Barça, Chelsea issued wake up call (Video)

Sep 18, 2013, 6:30 PM EDT

Referee Proenca shows red card to Borussia Dortmund's Weidenfeller during their Champions League Group F soccer match against Napoli in Naples Reuters

Where Tuesday had a flurry of goals, Wednesday had talking points. A game-changing red card in Napoli. And own-goal decider late in Milan. Another Messi hat trick in Barcelona. And, of course, Chelsea being upset at home. It was those headline events that took the place of Tuesday’s glut of goals, helping to round out an encouraging start to UEFA’s marque tournament.

But whereas yesterday’s action was also defined by the imposing power of some of Europe’s elites, today’s most notable performances came from a trio of big clubs few would put among the Real Madrids and Manchester Uniteds of the world: Napoli won the day’s big game, knocking off German leaders Borussia Dortmund; Schalke continued their resurgence with a three-goal win at home; while Atlético Madrid showed they may be Group G’s favorites.

[MORE: Tuesday UCL roundup: Upsets make way for goals.]

[MORE: Dortmund left to fight back down a player, coach.]

Here’s what else happened as Wednesday’s action rounded out match day one of UEFA Champions League:

Group E: Chelsea (England) 1-2 Basel (Switzerland) [RECAP]

In time, when Chelsea’s going through to the knockout round at the top of this group, we may see this result as the cold shower the Blues needed to awaken their season. Right now, however, it’s a reminder that talent alone does not win games. There was no question who had the better players, with Chelsea able to hold 57 percent of the ball while outshooting their opposition. But come the 71st minute, there were doubts as to who would win this game. When Marco Stellar’s winner built on Mohamed Salah’s opener, Basel had the competition’s first shock result.

[MORE: Basel records first major upset of Champions League season.]

Group E: Schalke (Germany) 3-0 Steaua Bucharest (Romania)

The Romanian champions held out for 67 minutes before the reality of their situation became apparent. They are the underdogs in Group E, and against one of the two teams who will compete for second behind Chelsea (or, perhaps more after today’s result), Steaua saw how little margin for error they have. When their defense misjudged a cross with 23 minutes to play, Atsuto Uchida scored an unlikely opening goal.  Eleven minutes later, the threat of the Julian Draxler-Kevin Prince Boateng combination was made clear, as the young German set up Prince’s score. Then, in the 85th minute, Draxler added one of his own, completing Steaua’s rude awakening.

Group F: Napoli (Italy) 2-1 Borussia Dortmund (Germany) [RECAP]

Napoli were deserved winners, using goals from Gonzalo Higuaín and Lorenzo Insigne to outweigh Juan Camilo Zuñiga’s late own goal, but this is a match the viewers may wish had played out differently. Near the end of a quality first half that saw only Higuaín’s 29th minute header separate the sides, Dortmund keeper Roman Weidenfeller was sent off for a hand ball outside the box. The call was the correct one (Pedro Proença had to make it), but it still ruined what could have been the best match of the young European season.

[MORE: Napoli take full points from short-handed Dortmund.]

Group F: Marseille (France) 1-2 Arsenal (England)

A strong Arsenal start gave way to an even first half, with Marseille the slightly better side come halftime. The Gunners, however, found their stride in the second, Theo Walcott hammering home the opener after Jérémy Morel’s failed clearance before Aaron Ramsey notched his sixth goal of the season (seriously: six). The Welsh midfielder gave one back late, his penalty leading to Jordan Ayew’s 93rd minute conversation, but comfortably ahead by the time l’OM pulled one back, Arsenal posted an impressive opening round result.

Group G: Atlético Madrid (Spain) 3-1 Zenit St. Petersburg (Russia)

Subtly, this was a very impressive performance from Atlético, particularly since Zenit coach Luciano Spalletti employed a bit of a gambit to slow them down, surprisingly going three-at-the-back. The setup, however, seemed to overlook the fact Atlético, because of the suspension to Diego Costa, were unlikely to go 4-4-2, Diego Simeone conceding before the match that Adrían’s inclusion would change their formation. With only David Villa up top, Atlético were able to undo Spalletti’s plans, getting goals from Miranda, Koke, and Leo Bapistao en route to an impressive victory.

Group G: Austria Wein (Austria) 0-1 FC Porto (Portugal)

Wein coach Nenad Bjelica spent the buildup to this match explaining a vast difference in the clubs’ resources means nothing once the match starts. And in the first half, he was right. Much like Chelsea-Basel, you could see which side had to more talented players, but Wein were generating all the opportunities despite only seeing 34 percent of the ball. Ten minutes into the second half, however, Lucho Gonzalez, a player the Austrians could not dream of affording, finished a Danil cross for the game’s only goal, one of only two shots the Portuguese champions managed on Heinz Lindner.

Group H: Barcelona (Spain) 4-0 Ajax (Netherlands) [RECAP]

Three more Champions League goals from Lionel Messi (and one for good measure from Gerard Piqué) gave Barcelona a result many would have predicted, especially after a penalty kick allowed the hosts to take an early lead. After that score, Ajax loosen up and gained a greater place in the match, forcing Victor Valdes into a number of good saves (including one from the spot). Ultimately, however, this was a pretty typical performance for Barcelona at home in Champions League.

From PST’s Steve Davis, on Barcelona and the team that inspired the Catalans’ style:

Indeed, they may be stylistic kindred spirits, having birthed their games through some of the same tactical DNA, but Barca and Ajax are hardly playing the same game these days. (Haven’t been for a while, in fact.) Ajax players, gifted as they are, just cannot match Barca’s technical aptitude nor the collective wit – especially not when playing as the visitors in Catalonia.

[MORE: Messi hat trick decides battle of kindred spirits]

[MORE: Looking at the updated Champions League scoring chart.]

Group H: Milan (Italy) 2-0 Celtic (Scotland)

Max Allegri’s team were the better side throughout, but against a team with Celtic’s well-established counter attacking prowess, the 0-0 halftime scoreline was a dangerous one. Eight minutes from time, when it looked like Celtic (who finished the match without a shot on goal) were going to salvage a draw, Emilio Izaguirre inadvertently undid his team’s hopes, deflecting a Cristián Zapata shot home for the game’s opening goal. Sulley Muntari would add insurance four minutes from time to give a depleted Milan a deserved three points.

Latest Posts
  1. David Ospina move to Arsenal is done, says Nice manager

    Jul 26, 2014, 2:54 PM EDT

    Ospina Getty Images

    Wojciech Szczesny will face fierce competition for the starting goalkeeper role once the Colombia international finds his grove in London.

  2. Norwich City put 13 goals past…someone

    Jul 26, 2014, 2:19 PM EDT

    Norwich City v Sunderland - Premier League Getty Images

    The Canaries boasted about beating Italian side SC Vallee d’Aoste 13-0. Turns out it was a case of mistaken identity.

  3. Luis Suárez may see punishment reduced by Court of Arbitration for Sport

    Jul 26, 2014, 1:26 PM EDT

    FBL-WC2014-QUALIFIERS-URUGUAY-PRESSER Getty Images

    The nine-game ban from Uruguay games is most likely to stand, but it’s possible the CAS will reduce other punishments imposed on the forward.

  4. Southampton slap high price tag on Morgan Schneiderlin

    Jul 26, 2014, 12:33 PM EDT

    Southampton v Fulham - Premier League Getty Images

    Saints have no need to sell the France international, and hope that pricing him higher than Luke Shaw will deter the likes of Arsenal and Spurs.

  5. Wayne Rooney believes Manchester United can win the Premier League title

    Jul 26, 2014, 11:40 AM EDT

    Britain Soccer Champions League AP

    It’s no surprise that the forward would tip his side for the title — but is he wrong?

  6. Radamel Falcao denies contact from Real Madrid

    Jul 26, 2014, 10:47 AM EDT

    FBL-FRA-LIGUE1-PSG-MONACO Getty Images

    It’s not really sounding as though the Colombian is prepared to take a 50 percent wage cut in order to secure a move to the La Liga giants.

  7. Louis van Gaal is not pleased by Saturday’s kickoff time

    Jul 26, 2014, 10:09 AM EDT

    Britain Soccer Premier League AP

    Manchester United face Roma in Denver on Saturday. The match is scheduled to kick off at 2 p.m. local time — when temperatures will be high

  8. Premier League teams Down Under: Newcastle win, West Ham stumble

    Jul 26, 2014, 8:59 AM EDT

    newcastle Getty Images

    West Ham may be regretting their trip to Australia and New Zealand, while Newcastle are honoring fans’ memory with wins.

  9. José Mourinho criticizes wages Luke Shaw will earn at Manchester United

    Jul 26, 2014, 8:06 AM EDT

    Courtesy: Manchester United Courtesy: Manchester United

    Is the Chelsea manager gearing up for a season of back-and-forth with new United boss Louis van Gaal?

  10. QPR recall Julio Cesar from Toronto FC

    Jul 26, 2014, 7:13 AM EDT

    julio_cesar AP

    The Brazilian will have a chance to prove himself once more, challenging Rob Green for the starting goalkeeper spot for QPR.

  11. MLS Snapshot: Colorado Rapids 3-0 Chivas USA

    Jul 26, 2014, 12:01 AM EDT

    Colorado Rapids v Philadelphia Union Getty Images

    Two goals in the first half hour allowed the Rapids to cruise at DSG Park.

  12. Fraizer Campbell gives Tony Pulis a new option at Crystal Palace

    Jul 25, 2014, 10:35 PM EDT

    FBL-ENG-PR-NORWICH-CARDIFF

    The 26-year-old will try to improve an attack that averaged fewer than one goal per game last season.

  13. Omar Gonzalez targeting Monday return to LA Galaxy’s defense

    Jul 25, 2014, 9:11 PM EDT

    Gonzalez Getty Images

    Gonzalez resumed full training on Friday with the hope of starting in Seattle.

  14. Everton willing to set club transfer record to bring Lukaku back

    Jul 25, 2014, 8:32 PM EDT

    Lukaku Getty Images

    Roberto Martínez is ready to spend close to $35 million to secure the 21-year-old’s return.

  15. Arsenal on the verge of signing Calum Chambers from Southampton

    Jul 25, 2014, 7:44 PM EDT

    calum_chambers Getty Images

    Medical with Gunners and fee agreement has Chambers on the verge of departing for North London.

  16. Knee injury will keep Lallana out of Liverpool’s Premier League opener

    Jul 25, 2014, 6:48 PM EDT

    www.liverpoolfc.com www.liverpoolfc.com

    LCL injury could sideline former Southampton star for six weeks.

  17. Houston acquires Honduran international Luis Garrido on loan from Olimpia

    Jul 25, 2014, 6:04 PM EDT

    luis_garrido AP

    23-year-old brings another ball-winner to the Dynamo midfield.

  18. Bebé done at Manchester United; Portuguese attacker joins Benfica

    Jul 25, 2014, 5:01 PM EDT

    ManchesterUnited

    One of Alex Ferguson’s most notorious transfers has found a new home with Benfica.

  19. Dutch left back Patrick van Aanholt moves from Chelsea to Sunderland

    Jul 25, 2014, 4:15 PM EDT

    patrick van aanholt

    Five years of development by the Blues ends with the 23-year-old’s departure.

  20. A quick guide to who’s come and gone from Premier League teams

    Jul 25, 2014, 3:11 PM EDT

    Brazil Soccer WCup Brazil Chile AP

    From Sanchez and Luiz to Suarez and Sidwell, a breakdown of the top names to have come and gone from the Premier League.