Wednesday September 28th, 2016

The second half of Champions League Matchday 2 was a night when the grandees of Europe struggled, with Bayern Munich losing, Manchester City drawing and Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain both having to come from behind to win.

Bayern went down 1-0 away to last season’s runner-up Atletico Madrid, with Yannick Ferreira Carrasco scoring the only goal. City fell behind three times against Celtic but salvaged a draw, and in the same group Barcelona eventually beat Borussia Monchengladbach 2-1.

In the other game in Bayern and Altetico's group, PSV twice came from behind to draw 2-2 with Rostov. Dmitry Poloz seized on Aleksandr Yerokhin’s pass to give Rostov an eighth-minute lead, but Davy Propper leveled with a deflected drive. Rostov reassumed the lead seven minutes from halftime as Serdar Azmoun had won a high ball and knocked it down for Poloz, who drilled in the bouncing ball from just outside the box. But PSV tied it again before the break as Luuk De Jong turned in from close range after a cross had been deflected onto the bar. Propper had a second-half penalty saved, and the two sides each took a point.

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Elsewhere, Edinson Cavani scored twice, as PSG beat Ludogorets 3-1. The Bulgarian champions went ahead as Natanael Pimienta’s free kick split the wall and crept in after 16 minutes, but Blaise Matuidi leveled before halftime after seizing on Marco Verratti’s through ball. Cavani flicked in an Angel Di Maria free kick and, after Cosmin Moti had had a penalty saved, he converted Lucas Moura’s cross to secure the win.

Arsenal is level with PSG at the top of Group A having recorded a comfortable 2-0 win over Basel, with Theo Walcott scoring both goals in the opening half.

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In Italy, Benfica goalkeeper Julio Cesar had a miserable night as Napoli romped to a 4-2 win at the San Paolo. Marek Hamsik turned in a near-post corner in the first half, and after the break two goals from Dries Mertens, including a whipped free kick, and an Arkadiusz Milik penalty completed the home side’s scoring. Gonzalo Guedes and Eduardo Salvio pulled goals back late on. In the other game in the group, a back-post finish from Viktor Tsygankov gave Dynamo Kyev a 1-1 at Besiktas, which had taken the lead with a stellar Ricardo Quaresma free kick.

Here's what stood out from the day's action:

Player of the day: Theo Walcott, Arsenal

On Saturday, Arsene Wenger explained how, toward the end of last season, as Walcott lost his place in the Arsenal side and realized he was going to be left out of the England squad for the Euros, something clicked in his head. He began working with a personal trainer, focusing specifically on core strength, the result of which has been much improved form this season. To his three goals in his first six league games, he added another two against Basel. Arsenal took the lead after seven minutes as Walcott headed in Alexis Sanchez’s cross and it doubled that lead after 26 minutes with a precise finish after a one-two with the Chilean.

Goal of the day: Yannick Ferreira Carrasco, Atletico Madrid vs. Bayern Munich

Some goals are memorable because of the quality of the strike, some for the imagination of the finish, some for a moment of skill or power. But Atletico’s opening goal, and eventual winner, featured two moments of supreme technical excellence: Antoine Griezmann’s pass was superbly conceived and perfectly executed, and Carrasco’s finish from just outside the box just evaded Manuel Neuer’s outstretched hand and went in off the post.

Man City battles back in six-goal thriller

Pep Guardiola’s run of 10 straight wins as Manchester City manager finally came to an end in an astonishing 3-3 draw in Glasgow. Celtic was ahead within three minutes, a clever free-kick routine ending with Tom Rogic’s header glancing in off Mousa Dembele, who was just offside. That was the first time City had been behind this season. Fielding three fullbacks in its back line, with Aleksandar Kolarov alongside Nicolas Otamendi in place of John Stones, City struggled to deal with Celtic’s set plays.

For a time the home side threatened to extend its lead but City leveled after 12 minutes, with Fernandinho finishing sharply as Kolarov’s mis-hit shot fell for him. But eight minutes after that, Celtic regained the advantage, a rapid break ending with Rogic laying in Kieran Tierney, whose shot flicked off Raheem Sterling and beat Claudio Bravo at the near post. Sterling then scored at the right end, finishing coolly after David Silva had won possession off Scott Brown.

Within a minute of the start of the second half, Celtic was back ahead, as Kolarov made a mess of Tierney’s cross and Dembele hooked the ball into the corner. But City soon leveled again, with Nolito following in after Sergio Aguero’s effort had been saved by Craig Gordon. As thrilling as much of the attacking was, the game raised serious questions about a City defense that has kept only one clean sheet in the Premier League so far. There is additional pressure on City’s next two Champions League games, both against Barcelona.

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Semifinal revisited for Atletico, Bayern

In the repeat of last season’s semifinal, Atletico Madrid again prevailed against Bayern Munich. Atletico had much the better of the first half and took the lead after 36 minutes through Carrasco. The Belgium international had already drawn a fine save from Neuer while Fernando Torres, presented with an open goal three yards out, had headed against the post.

As Bayern became increasingly frustrated, Arturo Vidal rashly fouled Filipe Luis, conceding a penalty. Antoine Griezmann clipped it against the bar, but Bayern couldn't capitalize, leaving Carlo Ancelotti's side going home empty-handed after a 1-0 result and another Atletico statement by Diego Simeone's well-drilled squad.

Messi-less Barcelona wobbles, but wins

Barcelona has had its worst start to a league season since 2011, taking 13 points from six games and that vulnerability was on show in Germany as it fell behind to Borussia Monchengladbach after 34 minutes. Mahmoud Dahoud dispossessed Sergio Busquets and exchanged passes with Raffael before running on and sliding the ball square for Thorgan Hazard to score his seventh goal of the season.

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It was against the run of play and Barca continued to dominate, finally leveling after 65 minutes as substitute Arda Turan lashed in Neymar’s lofted ball. Gerard Pique bundled in the winner a few minutes later after Jan Sommer had fumbled Luis Suarez’s shot, though, and Barcelona heads into the back-to-back matches against Guardiola's City with sole possession of first in the group and a chance to lock down the top spot when they meet in October and November.

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