Champions League: Ronaldo's 500th goal; Manchester clubs come back
There was late drama in the Champions League Matchday Two as Manchester City won its first game, coming from behind to beat Borussia Monchengladbach with a last minute penalty. Juventus continued its fine start in Europe with a 2-0 win over Sevilla to move top of Group D.
Manchester United also came from behind to beat Wolfsburg 2-1 at Old Trafford. Group B is now evenly poised, as after CSKA Moscow beat 10-man PSV Eindhoven 3-2, all four teams are locked on three points.
Cristiano Ronaldo scored twice for Real Madrid in the 2-0 win over Malmo to equal Raul's all-time scoring record for the club and cross the 500-goal threshold for club and country. PSG is its next opponent, having seen off Shakhtar Donetsk 3-0 away, and could prove tricky for Rafa Benitez's men.
In Group C, Benfica shocked Atletico Madrid with a 2-1 win, while Astana earned its first point after drawing 2-2 at home to Galatasaray.
Here are the talking-points from another compelling matchday:
Player of the Day: Juan Mata (Manchester United)
How did he do that? The Spanish midfielder was not facing the goal when he back-heeled a cross from the edge of the area to set up Chris Smalling to score United's winning goal in a come-from-behind win over Wolfsburg at Old Trafford. Mata was outstanding all night, with most of United's chances coming from him, including a lofted cross-field pass in the first half that Memphis headed just wide. He also scored United's equalizer, a confidently struck penalty just before halftime.
Coach Van Gaal has called Mata a "false right-winger" and in recent weeks Mata's form has become central in United's rise toward the top of the Premier League. "I just like to play between the lines, look for space and create chances for my team," is how he described his favorite position to Sky Sports this week. He is United¹s form player and given the recent results of his former club Chelsea, cannot be faulted for his sense of timing.
Goal of the Day: Roger Canas (Astana vs. Galatasaray)
The Colombian midfielder earned Astana its first point ever in the Champions League with an equalizer against Galatasaray in the 89th minute, although UEFA later marked it down as an own goal by Lionel Carole, who sliced in his attempted clearance from under the crossbar. That is harsh on Canas, whose effort was notable because it was a diving header from outside the area.
He leaped onto Fernando Muslera's punched clearance and sent it straight back with interest. The game finished 2-2, and history will show that Carole was the third player to score an own goal in the game. But if Canas tells his kids he scored a Champions League goal from outside the area, the record-books won't back him up. Pity.
Eye-Opening Result of the Day: Atletico Madrid 1, Benfica 2
Benfica became the first visiting team to score at Atletico Madrid's stadium in the Champions League since AC Milan back in March 2014, six games ago. Even when Benfica's Nico Gaitan scored against the run of play to equalize Angel Correa's opener, it did not look like Benfica would go on to win.
Atletico had started really well, with Antoine Griezmann having a shot blocked and Jackson Martinez hitting the post. But Benfica, whose own domestic form has been disappointing, earned a surprise win when Gaitan led a counterattack and his center was touched on by Atleti defender Filipe Luis for Goncalo Guedes, the promising teenager, to score a memorable winner.
This is the first Champions League tie that Atletico, under Diego Simeone, has lost, and it makes Benfica favorite to top Group C. No group winner will want to draw Atletico if it finishes in second place. Sooner than that, though, Simeone will need his players to regroup; it's the small matter of a derby against Real Madrid this weekend.
Late Twist of the Day: Manchester City's late winner
After defeats for Chelsea and Arsenal Tuesday, the Premier League obituaries were being written when Lars Stindl put Borussia Monchengladbach ahead against Manchester City (and this was after Raffael saw his penalty saved in the first half). City, though, showed a mental fortitude that was lacking in the home defeat to Juventus.
It kept on pushing forward against an open Gladbach defense and equalized from a corner, with Martin Demichelis's shot deflected in off Andreas Christenson. As the clock ticked, Raheem Sterling and an unusually profligate Sergio Aguero both had chances. City had its lifeline in the final minute, as U.S. international Fabian Johnson tripped Aguero as he was dribbling away from goal. This time there was no doubt about the penalty, and Aguero scored it for a crucial win.
City is now tied for second with Sevilla on three points and plays the Spanish side home-and-away next up. Gladbach's penalty horror returned again; after conceding four spot kicks all last season, it has conceded nine in 10 games this season. For City, this is a huge result.
Major Takeaway of the Day: Record-breaker Ronaldo
It's been a strange season for Ronaldo, who is top of the scoring charts in La Liga with five goals, all of which he scored in one game (against Espanyol). He is not used to not scoring, and it is a sign of how accustomed we have all become to his achievements that it feels strange when he goes six games without a goal. That all changed against Malmo, with a goal in either half making it 501 career goals in total, and drawing him level with Raul as Madrid's all-time leading goalscorer. They have both managed 323 goals for the club. Raul took 741 games to reach that tally; Ronaldo just 308 games. It's outrageous!
Still, after a few weeks of building up to the moment, the Portuguese star will be pleased that it's out of the way.
Now he can concentrate on scoring regularly again: with Lionel Messi out injured, this is his chance to stake himself to a big lead in the race for both the pichichi and as Champions League's all-time top scorer: Ronaldo now has 82 in 117 games and Messi 77 in 100 games.
There was almost another scoring record Wednesday as Zlatan Ibrahimovic is one goal away from equalling PSG's all-time scoring record of 109 goals by Pedro Pauleta. He looked to have achieved it with a late goal in the win over Shakhtar, but it was awarded as a Darijo Srna own goal. Ibra will have to wait for his moment: he will hope it comes this weekend when PSG play Marseille in France's le clasique.