by Evan Sobol
Match-day one of the 2016/2017 UEFA Champions League is already behind us. Let’s see how Europe’s best, played in the first week of group stage action.
Defending champions Real Madrid opened their season in Group F at home with a nail-biter against Portuguese side Sporting Clube De Portugal (CP). Sporting midfielder Bruno Cesar scored the first goal of the match just after half time in the 48th minute.
The Brazilian international team took advantage of poor defense by Ramos and Modric and capitalized with a short-range goal leaving Madrid fans stunned.
Cristiano Ronaldo started Los Blanco’s rally in the 89th minute with a free kick. The ball curled around Sporting’s wall and into the upper-right corner of the goal. Spanish forward Alvaro Morata sealed the 2-1 win for Madrid with a header in stoppage time. Midfielder James Rodriguez assisted the goal with a long range cross.
Real Madrid is currently tied with German side Borussia Dortmund at the top of Group F with three points. Sporting is tied with Polish side Legia Warszawa at the bottom of the table.
Premier League Champions Leicester City played to a convincing 0-3 win at Belgian side Club Brugge. It was Leicester’s Champions League debut and first European campaign since the 2000 UEFA Cup. Midfielder Marc Brighton opened the scoring for the Foxes in the fifth minute with a short-range goal.
Riyad Mahrez scored in the 29th minute with a free kick into the upper left corner of the net. The Algerian midfielder added to the scorecard again with a penalty kick in the 61st minute. Brugge finished the match with only two on target scoring attempts. They are alone at the bottom of Group G after the loss. Leicester leads the group after the draw between Portuguese side FC Porto and FC Kobenhavn of Denmark. If the Foxes keep this form, they will be the clear favorites to win the group.
Tottenham Hotspur was the only English team to lose their opening match after falling to French side Monaco at home 1-2. Monaco scored early in the 15th minute with a short-range goal by Portuguese midfielder Bernardo Silva. Substitute Thomas Lemar added to the scoring with a goal off a cross and over the goalkeeper’s head in the 31st minute. The Spurs reduced the deficit to one with Toby Alderweireld’s header right before halftime. Monaco held Tottenham scoreless in the second half to get the win. With the loss the Spurs sit at the bottom of Group E. If they hope to make a push for winning the group they need playmaker Harry Kane to step up. Monaco sits alone at the top of the group with the victory.
French powerhouse Paris Saint-Germain opened their Champions League season with a 1-1 draw at home against Arsenal. Uruguay forward Edinson Cavani scored PSG’s lone goal on their very first possession in the first minute. He took advantage of a great cross by defender Serge Aurier and headed the ball into the right side of the net. Cavani had a goal opportunity in the 34th minute with the net wide open, but did not capitalize with a shot wide right.
Arsenal’s Alexis Sanchez scored Arsenal’s lone goal with a screamer from the edge of the box in the 78th minute. Following the draw all teams in Group A are tied with one point apiece. Cavani needs to take better advantage of his scoring opportunities if Paris hopes to win the group. The departure of Zlatan Ibrahimović to Manchester United has hurt their usual scoring tally.
Usual Champions League contenders Barcelona, Bayern Munich, and Manchester City each earned blowout victories at home. Lionel Messi scored three goals and had one assist against Celtic. He is currently tied with fellow Argentinian Sergio Aguero for most goals so far this season.
The Champions League returns next week, Sept. 27th and 28th, with match-day two of the group stage. Borussia Dortmund look to lead Group F as they host Real Madrid Tuesday and Bayern Munich visit defensive power Atletico Madrid on Wednesday.