Tuesday September 30th, 2014

Champions League group play resumed with the start to the second wave of matches and was marked by two players making history on a day when the formbook was turned upside down and there were surprise results involving Spanish sides Barcelona and Athletic Bilbao. There were also wins for Chelsea and Bayern Munich, but Manchester City stumbled at home to Roma.

Here is what caught our eye:

Player of the Day: Marquinhos, Paris Saint-Germain

The Brazilian center back was only in the side because captain Thiago Silva is injured but, Marquinhos, along with fan-favorite David Luiz (already), put in a heroic performance as PSG beat Barcelona 3-2 in the match of the day in the French capital. Marquinhos could do nothing about Lionel Messi’s sensational goal (which brought the Barcelona star level with Cristiano Ronaldo within three of Raul's all-time Champions League record of 71) just 60 seconds after Luiz had opened the scoring. His moment of glory came 10 minutes from time when, with Barcelona pushing for an equalizer, he dived to clear Jordi Alba’s goalbound effort with a dramatic lunge in the six-yard box.

His ensuing celebration was as though he had scored a goal. It was as important as that. The twist on the Marquinhos story is that Barcelona wanted to sign him in the summer, and given its obvious weaknesses from set pieces, the club might be ruing what might have been.

There were other outstanding performances from PSG – Javier Pastore was excellent in the first half, not for the first time against this opposition – but this was a result that should send a message to the rest of Europe; not least because PSG was without Silva and the injured Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

A nod also to Sporting goalkeeper Rui Patricio, who made several saves to keep Chelsea’s win in Lisbon down to a respectable 1-0. He was helped by some wayward finishing – how Jose Mourinho must wish Andre Schurrle was as decisive in a Chelsea shirt as he is for Germany – but excelled in preventing the Blues killing off the match far earlier.

Goal of the Day: Francesco Totti, Roma

Totti turned 38 last weekend and today became the oldest Champions League scorer (taking that title from Ryan Giggs) with a fantastic strike to level the score in Roma’s 1-1 draw at Manchester City. The goal was a brilliant finish, Totti showing a little pace to beat Joe Hart to the ball before delivering a perfect ‘cucchiaio’ into the far corner.

GLOCKNER: How good is the EPL stacked against Europe's other top leagues?

‘Cucchiaio’ translates as ‘little spoon’ and is a chipped goal, like a Panenka penalty, which Totti has made his trademark. (His most memorable, in fact, was in the Euro 2000 semifinal penalty shootout win against Holland. “To take a penalty like that you must be crazy or very good,” Totti later said, “and I don’t think I’m crazy.”)

From a City point of view, the focus will be on Vincent Kompany, who was sucked out of position by the impressive Radja Nainggolan’s brilliant run and first-time reverse pass; not to mention Hart, dropped at the weekend, who slipped and could not get to the ball before the not-as-fast-as-he-used-to-be-which-wasn’t-fast-at-all Italian. Totti’s effort was the perfect riposte to Manchester City’s official Twitter account, which wrote pre-match: “We’re looking forward to hosting AS Roma and a legendary player such as Totti. He’s never scored in England, has he?”

Well, he has now. 

Turning Point of the Day: Jackson Martinez comes off the bench for Porto

Porto sits atop Group H after an unlikely come-from-behind 2-2 draw at Shakhtar Donetsk, something that never looked on after the hat-trick hero from Matchday One, Yacine Brahimi, missed an early penalty for the visitor. Martinez, though, made the difference; coming on for Vincent Aboubakar after 65 minutes, with his team 1-0 down. Luiz Adriano doubled the lead with five minutes left, but Martinez had the final word; converting a penalty on 89 minutes and slotting home at the near post four minutes into stoppage time.

Two years ago, Martinez scored twice in a 3-2 win against Dyanmo Kiev, and once again, the Colombian proved a thorn in the side for Ukrainian opposition.

Surprise of the Day: Barcelona defense collapses, Blanc set to keep his job

Seven games and not a single goal conceded; that was Barcelona’s record before its 3-2 defeat in Paris and while the result itself was a shock – given PSG had won only three of its eight games this season – the manner of PSG’s goals will have been a huge concern to coach Luis Enrique.

First, David Luiz tapped home from a set piece, and then Marco Verratti, the shortest player on the pitch, headed home a corner after some serious flapping from debutant goalkeeper Marc Andre ter Stegen. The German had a nervy night, not helped by only surviving nine minutes with a clean sheet. Compare to Claudio Bravo, the other goalkeeper Barcelona signed in the summer, whose current run without conceding stands at 636 minutes, 20 minutes short of a new club record.

There is also the Blanc storyline; reportedly given two games to save his job – this one and Monaco over the weekend – this was PSG’s best performance in his time as coach, and though the team sat back to defend very deep in the last 10 minutes, a tactic that hurt it against Chelsea last season and Ajax this season, on this occasion it paid off. Blanc might now be able to see out the season in (relative) peace.

BERLIN: Major gulf in class between EPL top and bottom

Major Takeaway of the Day

Before Man City, the reigning EPL champion, took on Roma at the Etihad, coach Manuel Pellegrini said that his squad is good enough to reach the semifinal of this competition, with the inference being that was the minimum target asked of him after four years of City’s underachievement in this competition. The host could not have got off to a better start, with Sergio Aguero netting a fourth-minute penalty, but thereafter Roma was on top for large parts of the match, and though City pushed late on, a 1-1 draw leaves the club in third place and already five points behind Bayern.

This was the fourth time in succession that City has failed to win its opening home match in Europe. Lack of experience at this level is no longer a viable excuse, but City now needs to win back-to-back games against CSKA Moscow next and hope Bayern does the double over Roma. The problem City faces is that when Roma is the opposition on what might be a decisive Matchday Six tie in December, it should have Daniele de Rossi (and maybe Kevin Strootman), fit again.

This Roma side was not its strongest. City’s issues in the competition continue.



CSKA 0, Bayern Munich 1

Manchester City 1, Roma 1


PSG 3, Barcelona 2

APOEL 1, Ajax 1


Schalke 1, Maribor 1

Sporting Lisbon 0, Chelsea 1


BATE 2, Athletic Bilbao 1

Shakhtar Donetsk 2, Porto 2



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