Wednesday November 5th, 2014

A dramatic round of Champions League action saw Lionel Messi make history, CSKA beat nine-man Manchester City and Chelsea drop points in Slovenia. There were also wins for Paris Saint-Germain, Sporting Lisbon and FC Porto.

Here is what caught our eye:

Player of the Day: Seydou Doumbia, CSKA Moscow

Last week, Newcastle United was reportedly interested in CSKA Moscow's Seydou Doumbia; next week, the Ivorian forward might be able to take his pick for a move in January if he so desires. The 26-year-old has had a more circuitous journey to the top than most, ­including spells at Japanese clubs Kashiwa Reysol and second division Tokushima Vortis as an 18-year-old, but he was the toast of the Russian capital after two first-half goals stunned Manchester City in a 2-1 result.

Doumbia owes his big break in Europe to Thierry Doubai, a midfielder who befriended him at the of Centre Formation d'Inter football academy in Adjame, Ivory Coast, 12 years ago. Doubai was at Young Boys Berne and persuaded his bosses to take a chance on his friend. Two seasons later, he had scored 50 goals and CSKA Moscow signed him.

MORE: Doumbia's awesome goal celebration

That was in 2010, and his coach Leonid Slutsky must surely pinch himself that he has been able to hold onto the forward. "He often starts moves that are downright illogical," Slutsky told FourFourTwo. "He would go into defenders, putting himself into situations you just can't get out of - but he does get out. His way of playing is so unusual that marking him is a very tough job."

Manchester City's defenders would agree.

Goal of the Day: Lionel Messi, Barcelona

Cristiano Ronaldo had the chance to draw level with Raul as the Champions League's record goalscorer yesterday but failed to score (for the first time in 12 games) and so it was left to Lionel Messi to make history against Ajax.

Planet Futbol
Watch: Lionel Messi ties Raul's Champions League goals record

He scored two goals to reach the magic number of 71 on a night that belonged to him. His first was a header from Marc Bartra's cross after Ajax goalkeeper Jasper Cilessen had gone on a walkabout trying to punch away a seemingly harmless chipped ball into his area; Messi then set up Luis Suarez for a 1-on-1, which the Uruguayan, who did not look his sharpest, missed; then he drew the foul that saw Joel Veltman sent off.

Messi's second brought him level with Raul, a sharp exchange of passes with Pedro and a toe-poke from four yards out. Messi reached the golden 71 in 90 matches ­ it took Raul 142. That says it all about the genius of Messi.

Surprise of the Day: Eden Hazard misses a penalty

The story looked set in stone. Maribor takes a dramatic lead against Chelsea, dreams of victory for 20 minutes before a scrappy equalizer from one yard out levels the score. Then Eden Hazard wins a last-minute penalty, and we know what normally happens next: with 27 goals out of 29 spot-kicks, he was expected to roll the ball in.  

But that's not what happened: the Belgian changed his normal strategy of waiting for the goalkeeper to move first and instead struck it firmly to his non-natural side, only to see Jasmin Handanvoic, cousin of Inter goalkeeper Samir (one of the best penalty-stoppers in the world) keep it out. Make that 27 out of 30.

Major Takeaway of the Day: Should Pellegrini start worrying about his future?

Manchester City's target at the start of the season was to make an impact in the Champions League this season. Reading between the lines, that meant the quarterfinals or further. Premier League champion for two of the last three seasons, the club seemed stable under Manuel Pellegrini, but is now approaching a crisis not seen since Roberto Mancini last let rip at Mario Balotelli.

Planet Futbol
Champions League: Anderlecht stuns Arsenal; Young stars make mark

Following the 2-1 loss to CSKA, City is still winless in Group E and at this rate, the Europa League may even be beyond the club. Many reasons behind City's struggles in Europe have been suggested, ­from Pellegrini's tactics, to over-reliance on Sergio Aguero, to Yaya Toure's loss of form (he scored with an excellent free kick but that was after failing to mark Doumbia, who headed the opener after two minutes; he was also sent off late on), to the Etihad's lack of atmosphere or even a mental block in Europe.

But as the mystery deepens, the competition looks set to continue without the English champion. And that has to be worrying for the coach. It won't get any easier, either. Next up: Bayern Munich. Ouch.

Late Twist of the Day: Luiz Adriano bags back-to-back hat tricks

BATE Borisov will be glad to see no more of Luiz Adriano. The Brazilian forward scored five goals against BATE on Matchday Three, and netted three more on home soil to make it an astonishing eight goals in two games: more than group leaders Bayer Leverkusen and Paris Saint-Germain have managed in their four games total.

Three of those eight were penalties, all sent to the same corner. Perhaps the biggest surprise is that Luiz Adriano has never played for Brazil, and that's a Brazil side that went into the World Cup with Fred and Jo as its center forwards. Last week, the player won his first call-up for friendly matches against Turkey and Austria next week. In this form, they could be in for a shock.



Bayern Munich 2, Roma 0

CSKA Moscow 2, Manchester City 1



Ajax 0, Barcelona 2


Sporting Lisbon 4, Schalke 2

Maribor 1, Chelsea 1


Shakhtar Donetsk 5, BATE Borisov 0

Athletic Bilbao 0, Porto 2

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