Champions League: Lewandowski on fire; Chelsea, Arsenal on notice
It was another dreadful day for the Premier League clubs in the Champions league, with both Chelsea and Arsenal losing. Arsenal’s defeat was the more unexpected, a sloppy, uninspired performance ending in a 3-2 home defeat to Oympiakos, meaning it goes into back-to-back fixtures against Bayern Munich without a point.
Chelsea’s 2-1 defeat away to Porto, meanwhile, increases further the sense that Jose Mourinho’s grip on the club is slipping: this was the team's fifth defeat of the season already–it only lost five games all of last season. That it came against Iker Casillas (Champions League's all-time appearance leader, with 152), adds even more to the sting.
Elsewhere, Bayern maintained its superb start to the season, dismissing Dinamo Zagreb 5-0 and getting three more Robert Lewandowski goals, while Barcelona came from behind to scramble a 2-1 win over Bayer Leverkusen through a remarkable Luis Suarez finish.
Dynamo Kyiv won 2-0 at Maccabi Tel Aviv, adding to the pressure on Chelsea in Group G, while Roma slipped to an unexpected defeat away to BATE. Valencia recorded a vital win in Lyon, while Zenit maintained its 100% start to the group stage by beating Genk.
Here is what stood out from the first half of Matchday Two:
Player of the Day: Robert Lewandowski, Bayern Munich
So much for Dinamo Zagreb’s 45-game unbeaten record. Bayern’s capacity to thrash sides it is better than isn’t really in doubt, but, still, there is something mightily impressive about the way it not merely overcomes opponents week after week, but overwhelms them. Few other sides would have the will to just keep on scoring.
It helps, of course that it has a striker in the most lethal of form: Robert Lewandowski has scored 10 goals in three games in the space of a week. By his standards, this was almost a mundane hat trick. His first, to make it 2-0 was touched in from a Thiago Alcantara set-up. His second, to make it 4-0, was flicked in off the underside of the bar from a corner. His third, from another Thiago pass, was casually scoped over Eduardo in the Dinamo goal.
Goal of the Day: Sofiane Feghouli, Valencia
In some ways Valencia’s winner at Lyon was a simple goal, created by a quick free kick that caught Lyon upfield, but each aspect of it was admirable. Pablo Piatti charged down the left, cut inside and then laid the ball square for Sofiane Feghouli. He had time, but his shot from just outside the box was one of ferocious power. Anthony Lopes got a hand to it but had no chance of keeping it out.
Eye-Opening Result of the Day: BATE 3, Roma 2
On a day of startling results, none was quite so startling as what happened in Borisov, where Roma was hammered by BATE. Igor Stasevich knocked in the first after Mikhail Gordeichuk’s had come back off the bar, then left back Filip Mladenovic struck twice to have the home side 3-0 up inside half an hour.
Roma did pull two back in the second half, through Gervinho and Vasilios Torosidis, but the damage was done. As the Premier League laments its declining coefficient and the possible loss of the fourth qualifying slot, that Italy, the closest challenger, also had a bad night was the only consolation.
Late Twist of the Day: Barcelona storms back
Barcelona looked in major trouble against Bayer Leverkusen, which had much the better of the first half in the Camp Nou, going ahead as Kyriakos Papadopoulos took advantage of a Marc-Ande ter Stegen error. Barca, without Lionel Messi and with Andres Iniesta limping off, seemed to be heading to defeat, but then Sergi Roberto touched in a rebound from close range and, within two minutes, a superb finish from Suarez, slammed in from just inside the box, gave Barcelona an unlikely win.
Major Takeaway of the Day: Arsenal's continued failure
Whatever the collective failing of the Premier League–that’s five defeats out of six now for English clubs in the competition this season–this was a very Arsenal failure, reminiscent of the defeat to Monaco in February.
It looked dominant early on, but then its intensity dropped and it seemed to become complacent. Twice it got back into the game after conceding, and both times it conceded again within five minutes.
What turned out to be Olympiakos’s winner was the result of scandalously bad defending, Kostas Fortounis being left in 10 yards of space at the edge of the box as the ball was cut back to him.
Arsenal managed to block his shot, but then fell asleep again as Esteban Cambiasso worked the ball wide to Felipe Pardo, who crossed for Alfred Finnbogason to touch in.
With no points and consecutive games against Bayern on tap, Arsenal has its work cut out to get back to the knockout stage.