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Goals Galore as 2nd round of Champions League Group Stage finishes

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The second match day of the UEFA Champions League. Photo Credit: Steven Depolo

by Martin Vrankovic, staff reporter


The second match day of the
UEFA Champions League concluded with several results that could shape the fate of several teams looking to advance into the knockout stages.

One of the biggest shocks of the tournament so far came in Group E, where Belarusian club BATE Borisov defeated Roma courtesy of a superb first half performance that left their Italian counterparts needing to find three goals after just 30 minutes. Despite Roma being able to score twice to set up a tense finish, BATE held on for their first win in this group stage. In the same group, FC Barcelona faced off against Bayer Leverkusen for their first test without their main man Lionel Messi, who suffered a knee injury on Sunday.

Leverkusen put on a great display, nullifying Barcelona’s attack for the majority of the match, and even took the lead after 22 minutes. Substitutions from coach Luis Enrique made all the difference, however, as all three played a part in the two goals scored in the 80th and 82nd minutes to win the game for Barcelona.

Group F also provided thrills, as Arsenal suffered a home defeat to Olympiacos. This result meant that Arsenal has no points to show for their first two matches, and leaves them at the bottom of Group F. Defensive frailty made all the difference as poor defending was common from the Gunners, whose lack of concentration following their equalizer in the 65th minute allowed Olympiacos to grab a winner just seconds after they had scored in the other end.

Work certainly needs to be done before group leaders Bayern Munich make the trip to London. Bayern, who have lost just one game in all competitions this season, made quick work of Dinamo Zagreb in Germany. Robert Lewandowski netted a hat-trick: and his tenth goal in three matches, as Bayern put five goals past the Croatian side.

Fellow Londoners Chelsea brought their poor domestic form to the international stage as they lost 2-1 to Porto. The result meant that both Porto and Dynamo Kyiv, whom they play against in the next match, jump ahead of them in Group G. It was not all gloom for Premier League sides, though, as both Manchester United and Manchester City recorded their first wins of the tournament after losing in their first matches.

Both teams had to come from behind: Manchester United scored twice after conceding early to Wolfsburg, as Manchester City benefitted from a late penalty conversion from Sergio Aguero to win against Borussia Monchengladbach away. The wins were just what the two teams needed to put themselves in a favorable position in their respective groups. Manchester United are now level on points with every team in Group B, while Manchester City are tied on points for second with Sevilla, who they play in their next two games in Group D.

Other major results included wins for both Real Madrid and Paris Saint Germain, who are tied for the top spot in Group A prior to their meeting in Paris in matchday 3, Atletico Madrid suffering a rare home defeat to Benfica to send the Portuguese club 3 points clear on top of Group C, and Valencia CF getting a crucial win against Olympique Lyon to go second in Group H.

The next round of games will be played on October 20-21, with several teams already feeling the pressure of early elimination from the tournament if they don’t get the results they need. Arsenal in particular need to grab at least a draw if they want to have a reasonable chance of advancing from the group stage. It is definitely easier said than done against Bayern Munich, who have conceded no goals while scoring eight goals in 2 games. Another game to watch out for will be the Roma-Bayer Leverkusen clash, with the Italian side looking to move on from the shock defeat against BATE to show that they deserve to be among Europe’s elite clubs.

 

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