There were eight games today in the UEFA Champions League and Matchday 3 is in the books for groups E, F,G and H. There is plenty of soccer to be played until the knockout stages commence, but there is plenty of action to be seen as the juggernauts of Europe go head-to-head in the group stages. Here is a breakdown of today’s matches:
Spanish striker Fernando Torres scored twice for Chelsea as The Blues took control of Group E. Torres scored off his head in the 5th minute and with his right foot from an Oscar centering in the 68th. Edin Hazard added an insurance goal three minutes from full time for three away-points.
In Group E’s other matchup. Romanian champions Steaua scored a late equalizer to spoil their Swiss couterpart’s road win in Bucharest. Chile’s Marcelo Diaz struck first for Basel in the 48th minute, but Leandro Tuto found the back of the net with only two minutes left. The draw earned Steaua their first point in the group where they currently sit at the bottom.
Last year’s runner up humbled the Premier League leaders with a 2-1 away win at Emirates Stadium in London. An Aaron Ramsey turnover led to a Dortmund goal in the 16th minute from Henrikh Mkhitaryan. Arsenal fought to draw even the rest of the first half and eventually did in the 41st minute via Olivier Giroud. Polish superstar Robert Lewandowski scored off a counter attack with eight minutes left, spoiling Arsenal’s manager, Arsene Wenger’s, 64th birthday.
Gonzalo Higuain returned to the Napoli side from injury, but it was fellow strikers José Maria Callejon and Duvan Zapata who found the back of the net for Napoli. Andre Ayew scored late for Marseille, but it was too little, too late for the French side. Napoli, Dortmund and Arsenal are in a three-way tie in Group F with six points each.
The lone upset of the day saw the reigning Portuguese champions fall to defeat. Hector Herrera got two yellow cards only six minutes into the match and was sent off. Despite being down to 10 men, Porto pressed hard the whole match but conceded a goal in the 86th minute. Alexander Kerzhakov connected his head to a cross from Hulk into the back of the net from six yard out. Zenit St. Petersburg earned three impressive points on the road against a very good Porto side.
No Radamel Falcao, no problem. Atletico Madrid breezed past Austria Vienna with an early Raúl García goal and two goals from Diego Costa. Atletico sits atop Group G with the maximum nine points from three consecutive victories.
Lionel Messi returned to Barcelona’s starting lineup and the timing couldn’t have been better. Questionable defending from Javier Mascherano led to an early Milan goal from Robinho, but Messi equalized in the 23rd minute from a counter attack that formed in Milan’s half. Each team had their chances in the second half, but failed to convert a game winner. To no surprise, Barcelona controlled almost 75 percent of the ball possession.
The Scottish champions were home to a raucous of a crowd and went on to win a tough match against Ajax 2-1. James Forrest converted a penalty kick shortly before the halftime whistle and Baram Kayal provided an insurance goal in the 53rd minute. A straight red card to Nir Biton in the 88th minute left Celtic a man down for a short time, conceding a very late goal by Lasse Schone in stoppage time, but got the win in the end to earn their first points of the competition.