The Champions League got under way on Tuesday with a round of matches that reminded us just why the competition is so fantastic: brilliant goals, late drama, unpredictable heroes, two missed penalties and some new stars of the future. Here is a rundown of the highlights of Matchday One, Day One:
Game of the night: Real Madrid 3, Manchester City 2. The most anticipated match of the week lived up to its billing with Cristiano Ronaldo scoring the winner in the 90th minute. However, the biggest shock arguably happened before the games kicked off, when Jose Mourinho and Roberto Mancini handed in their team sheets. Mourinho, who had criticized the mindset of his players after three recent defeats, dropped Sergio Ramos and Mesut Ozil, preferring 19-year-old Raphael Varane, for his first game of the season, and loanee Michael Essien, for his debut.
As if trying to out-surprise his opposite number, Mancini dropped Joleon Lescott for a 19-year-old debutant of his own, Matija Nastasic. He also picked Gareth Barry as an extra holding midfielder and Maicon for Pablo Zabaleta.
Who came out of it better? Well, the result suggests Mourinho came out on top, but this second half was so crazy, so unpredictable, that the selection process barely comes into it. And Manchester City's European education continues the hard way: twice ahead, with both goals making Iker Casillas' claims for this season's Ballon D'Or look flimsy, but twice Madrid came back, scoring two goals in the last five minutes to seal an unlikely, but ultimately deserved, victory.
It was harsh on City goalkeeper Joe Hart, whose heroics in the first half had kept the hosts at bay, but that in itself tells its own story. As Hart put it after the game: "You can't go 2-1 up with five minutes to go and lose. It's not on. We can only blame ourselves."
But Madrid never stopped pushing for goals, while Yaya Toure was hero and villain in the space of five second-half minutes: his blistering run set up Edin Dzeko for the opening goal, but two minutes later he shot into the side-netting with what was to prove a costly miss.
A terrible last five minutes for Mancini got worse when Robert Lewandowski scored a very late winner for Borussia Dortmund over Ajax. City's next opponents, the German champion, now travel to Manchester on Matchday Two with a three-point cushion.
Mourinho's response to Ronaldo's winner, when he slid onto the pitch on his knees, was reminiscent of the younger Portuguese dancing down the Old Trafford touchline after Porto's late winner over Manchester United in 2004. This was a huge victory for Mourinho, not least because it makes a potential flash-point with Sergio Ramos, who is a powerful dressing-room influence, easier to handle.
Good night for new signings ... Zlatan Ibrahimovic made history as the first player to play and score for six different sides (Ajax, Juventus, Inter, Barcelona, Milan and Paris Saint-Germain) in the Champions League as it was his penalty -- and sixth goal in only five starts for PSG so far this season -- that set the French side on its way to a 4-1 win over Dynamo Kiev. His teammate Thiago Silva, the other half of the €62 million pair signed from AC Milan, also scored. Other debutants to find the target included Lukas Podolski for Arsenal (2-1 over Montpellier) and Javier Saviola for Malaga, in its scintillating 3-0 debut win over Zenit St. Petersburg.
... while there are few decent kids around, too. It did not take long to find out if the young stars tipped as ones to watch would deliver at this level. Within 10 minutes of kickoff, Isco (Malaga) had scored a brilliant goal, and he got a second late on, while Younes Belhanda (Montpellier) earned and scored a penalty -- impudently, with an-ever-so-slow "Panenka" chip down the middle. His teammate Remi Cabella was also excellent. So was Real Madrid's Raphael Varane, which might give Sergio Ramos food for thought, while Alex Sandro, the new Porto left back, impressed. The biggest surprise, though, might have been PSG's man of the match: Italian midfielder Marco Verratti, just 19, and definitely a star in the making.
Most relieved man of the night: This has to be Jackson Martinez, Porto's Colombian striker who had been compared, at least for his dead-eye in front of goal, to his compatriot Radamel Falcao. That eye was sorely lacking when Dinamo Zagreb goalkeeper Ivan Kelava gifted him the ball only for him to somehow fail to score. Within a minute, captain Lucho Gonzalez saved his blushes by putting his side ahead at the Maksimir Stadium (Porto won 2-0). It was a good thing for Jackson that the crowd was less than 10,000, then (while the atmosphere, according to Croatian journalist Aleksandar Holiga, was "really, really depressing ... with almost no support").
Pressure increases on Allegri: It's hard not to feel sympathy with AC Milan coach Massimiliano Allegri, whose team this summer sold Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Thiago Silva and Antonio Cassano and released Clarence Seedorf, Alessandro Nesta, Pippo Inzaghi and Gennaro Gattuso. While the club's wage-bill and quality of playing staff has considerably decreased, expectations have not. Milan's two home league defeats have contributed to its worst domestic start to a Serie A season in 82 years, and Allegri needed a victory against Anderlecht to ease some of that pressure. It did not happen, though: the game finished 0-0, with Anderlecht having more possession in the first half, and a tough press now awaits the Milan coach. It would not have helped his mood to learn that among the scorers elsewhere tonight were Ibrahimovic, Silva and another former Milan player, Klaas-Jan Huntelaar.