Following on from the successful international previews and reviews, The Long Ball moves onto European football and begins as teams reach the halfway stage of the Champions League and Europa League groups…
Top of the table Manchester United continued their unbeaten start in Group A with a solid 1-0 win over bottom side Real Sociedad at Old Trafford. An Inigo Martinez own goal in the first minute gave United the win and kept them top. United have the chance to almost guarantee their spot in the knockout rounds with a win in Spain. Bayer Leverkusen jumped above Shakhtar Donetsk into second place with a thumping 4-0 home win over the Ukrainians. Striker Stefan Kiessling grabbed two of the four Leverkusen goals who are now on six points from three games, two ahead of Shakhtar.
Real Madrid’s winning start in their Champions League group continued with a 2-1 win over Italian champions Juventus. Cristiano Ronaldo scored both Madrid goals as they extended their lead at the top to five points at the halfway stage. It was a doubly bad night for Juventus as they slipped into third place as a result of Galatasaray’s win in Turkey. They defeated bottom side FC Copenhagen 3-1 thanks to goals from Felipe Melo, Wesley Sneijder and Didier Drogba and moved two points clear of Juventus.
Paris St-Germain’s perfect record thus far in the Champions League was comfortably held on to thanks to their mauling of Anderlecht in Belgium. Star striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored four as they beat the bottom side 5-0. Olympiakos stayed in second place on goal difference thanks to their 1-1 draw with third place Benfica in Lisbon. Alejandro Dominguez opened the scoring for the Greeks who were denied a historic victory thanks to Oscar Cardozo’s late goal.
Champions League holders Bayern Munich continue to cruise through their group after a 5-0 drubbing of Viktoria Plzen in Munich. A Franck Ribery double plus goals from David Alaba, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Mario Götze handed the holders the win. The group’s early kick-off saw Manchester City fashion a three point gap between second and third after they won 2-1 at CSKA Moscow. Sergio Aguero’s double got the points for City but the match was overshadowed by racism from the CSKA fans towards Yaya Toure of Manchester City.
Chelsea are now top of Group E on goal difference after comfortably beating former incumbents Schalke 3-0 in Gelsenkirchen. Two goals from striker Fernando Torres and a late one from Eden Hazard saw the 2012 winners get the points. The other group game saw bottom side Steaua Bucharest get their first point of the campaign at home to Basle. A very late Leandro Tatu goal cancelled out Marcelo Díaz’s opener as Basle failed to capitalise on Schalke’s loss and stayed third.
Group F has become a lot tighter after Matchday 3 as the top three all have six points at the halfway stage. Arsenal remain top despite losing at home to second place Borussia Dortmund. The 2013 runners up won 2-1 at the Emirates thanks to goals from Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Robert Lewandowski. Dortmund remain second on goal difference despite Napoli beating the pointless Marseille in France. José Callejón and Duván Zapata got the Napoli goals as they ran out 2-1 winners to stay third.
Atletico Madrid are matching their city rivals stride for stride in the Champions League this year as they too continued their 100% record. Atleti recorded a comfortable 3-0 victory away to Austria Vienna thanks to a brace from the in-form Diego Costa and one from Raul Garcia. Zenit leapfrogged Porto into second place with their 1-0 win in Portugal. The hosts were down to ten men early on thanks to Hector Herrera’s red card and held on until Aleksandar Kerzhakov’s late goal won it for Zenit.
The top two in Group H collided in Milan but no winner could be found in the end. Top of the table Barcelona kept their two point advantage over Milan thanks to the 1-1 draw in the San Siro. Lionel Messi cancelled out ex-Real Madrid player Robinho’s early goal. The other game in Group H saw Celtic get off the bottom of the table thanks to their 2-1 win over Ajax in Glasgow. James Forrest and Beram Kayal got the crucial goals for Celtic as Ajax went bottom.
Swansea remain top of Group A despite being held to a 1-1 draw at home by bottom side Kuban Krasnodar. Michu’s opener was cancelled out by a last-gasp Djibril Cisse penalty which gave the visitors their first point of the campaign. Second place Valencia closed the gap at the top to just a single point thanks to their 5-1 mauling of St Gallen at home. Two from Fede Catarbia plus strikes from Paco Alcacer, Ricardo Costa and Sergio Canales saw Valencia bounce back from their embarrassment at home to Swansea in the opening game.
Ludogorets continued their shock 100% run in Group B with a 1-0 win over Ukrainian side Chornomorets in Ukraine. A Hristo Zlatinski free kick right on half time got the points for the Bulgarians. PSV consolidated second place despite their 0-0 draw in Zagreb. It was also the first point of the competition for Dinamo Zagreb who remain bottom of the group.
Red Bull Salzburg continued their domination of Group C with a 2-1 home win against bottom side Standard Liege. Jonatan Soriano and Andre Ramalho kept the Austrian side’s 100% record intact. The other game saw second place Esbjerg open up a five point gap over third place Elfsborg thanks to their 2-1 win in Sweden. Captain Hans Henrik Andreasen scored both goals for Esbjerg who look in a strong position at the halfway stage.
The top two squared off as Wigan surprisingly continued their unbeaten start with a 1-1 home draw against top of the table Rubin Kazan. Manchester United loanee Nick Powell cancelled out Aleksandar Prudnikov’s opener for the Championship side. Maribor finally got points on the board as they won 3-1 in Belgium against the now bottom Zulte Waregem. Goals from Matic Crnic, Ales Mertelj and Dejan Mezga gave Maribor the points despite being behind to a Davy de Fauw opener.
Fiorentina continued their 100% start to Group E with a comfortable 3-0 home win against third placed Pandurii. Joaquin, Ryder Matos and Juan Cuadrado all scored for the Viola against their Romanian visitors. Dnipro opened up a five point gap in second place after their late win at bottom side Pacos Ferreira. Late goals from Ruslan Rotan and Yevhen Konoplyanka gave the Ukrainians a 2-0 win.
Eintracht Frankfurt’s perfect start to the Europa League continued with a comfortable 2-0 win over second place Maccabi Tel-Aviv in Frankfurt. Vaclav Kadlec and Alexander Meier scored the goals for Frankfurt. Bordeaux finally got points on the board and moved off the bottom thanks to a dramatic 2-1 home win against APOEL. Esmael Goncalves had cancelled out Ludovic Sane’s opener for the Cypriot side but they were denied any points by Henrique’s goal in the final minute.
Genk’s perfect start to their Europa League campaign ended at home to bottom side Rapid Vienna. Marcel Sabitzer struck late for Rapid to cancel out Julien Gorius’ opener for a 1-1 draw which leaves Rapid bottom. Dynamo Kiev got their first win and moved into second after they brushed aside FC Thun 3-0. Andriy Yarmolenko, Dieumerci Mbokani and Oleh Gusev got the crucial goals for Dynamo who go above their Swiss visitors in the table.
Top of the table Sevilla were almost beaten in the Czech Republic by second place Slovan Liberec but just about recovered. Michael Rabusic’s goal was cancelled out late on by Victor Machin but only after Liberec keeper Premysl Kovar was sent off. Third place Freiburg were denied the chance to close the gap to Liberec by bottom side Estoril. Seba cancelled out Vladimir Dairda’s goal to give the Portuguese side a 1-1 draw in Germany and their first point in the group.
Lyon went top of Group I following their first win of the group stage. Clement Grenier’s header proved enough to defeat Croatian side and bottom of the table Rijeka in France. Real Betis joined them as they also recorded their first win in the group at home. Alvaro Vadillo’s goal was the difference as they beat Portuguese side Guimaraes and went second with the visitors dropping to third.
Top of the table Trabzonspor heaped more misery on pointless Legia Warsaw with a 2-0 win over the Poles in Turkey. Goals from Marc Janko and Olcan Adin proved to be the difference. It also opened up a gap at the top of the table after second place Lazio were held to a 0-0 draw in Cyprus. The Italians dominated but Apollon Limassol held on for a massive point for them.
Tottenham continued their perfect start to Group K with an impressive victory over Moldovan champions Sheriff. Goals from Jan Vertonghen and Jermain Defoe gave Spurs the important 2-0 win. Their lead at the top is five points as Anzhi moved into second thanks to their first win in the group. Nikita Burmistrov scored the only goal as Norwegian side Tromso fell in Russia.
Top of the table PAOK stayed top thanks to an incredible 3-2 win at home against bottom side Maccabi Haifa. Dino Ndlovu and Eyal Golasa put the Israelis 2-0 up after only 21 minutes but PAOK fought back to win (despite TWO missed penalties) with goals from Miguel Vitor, Sotiris Ninis and Dimitris Salpingidis. AZ Alkmaar continued their unbeaten start with a 1-1 draw at Shakhter Karagandy. Andrei Finonchenko’s opener was cancelled out by Johann Gudmundsson as AZ stayed second.
That is the complete European review for Matchday 3. Hopefully you enjoyed it and there will be another coming for Matchday 4.