Florenzi boosts Roma; Bayern shines, Arsenal flops in Champions League
A brilliant goal from Alessandro Florenzi earned Roma a 1-1 draw against Barcelona in the highest-profile clash on the second half of Matchday One of the Champions League, while there was further disappointment for the Premier League as Arsenal was beaten away to Dinamo Zagreb, 2-1.
Chelsea, though, did record a comfortable victory, 4-0 over Maccabi Tel Aviv to relieve some of the mounting pressure on Jose Mourinho, while there were a pair of comfortable wins for the two Bundesliga sides in action: Bayern Munich winning 3-0 away to Olympiakos and Bayer Leverkusen thumping BATE Borisov 4-1 at home.
Zenit rode a pair of Hulk goals and a winner from Axel Witsel to a 3-1 win over Valencia. Elsewhere, a late equalizer from Vitaly Buyalsky earned Dynamo Kyiv a 2-2 draw at home to Porto, while there was late draw in Belgium as nine-man Gent held Lyon 1-1.
Here's what stood out from all of the action:
Player of the Day: Hulk, Zenit St. Petersburg
No Brazil player came out of the 2014 World Cup with his reputation enhanced, but none perhaps was quite so unjustly traduced as Hulk.
He is a player who seems always to be having to justify himself, perhaps because he doesn’t fit readily into any obvious template: he has the physique of an old-fashioned target man, and yet he prefers to play wide, cutting in from the flank. When he’s on song, he can be almost unplayable and that’s how he was in the first half against Valencia. He’d already opened the scoring with a neat low angled finish from outside the box when he added a second with a strike of remarkable power.
Goal of the Day: Alessandro Florenzi, Roma
Even with Hulk’s ferocious drive for Zenit at Valencia there really isn’t much doubt about the best goal of the day. Florenzi picked up the ball on the right inside his own half, accelerated and then, more than 40 yards from the goal line and positioned out on the touchline, he launched a high, looping shot that carried over Marc-Andre ter Stegen, hit the far post and cannoned into the net. It was Florenzi’s first Champions League goal and it brought Roma level against Barcelona.
Eye-Opening Result of the Day: Dinamo Zagreb 2, Arsenal 1
It’s hard to imagine how the evening could have gone worse for Arsenal. Arsene Wenger, presumably with half an eye on Saturday’s game against Chelsea, rested key players and paid a shocking price. Dinamo Zagreb’s home record is extremely impressive, but, still, nobody really expected the perennial Croatian champions to prevail.
Dinamo took the lead after 24 minutes, a shot from Josip Pivaric being blocked by David Ospina but cannoning into Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and over the line. A minute earlier, Olivier Giroud had been booked for protesting after being penalized for a foul on Domagoj Antolic, a moment of stupidity that was made to look even dafter when he bundled into Ivo Pinto five minutes before halftime and was sent off.
Junior Fernandes headed in a second for the host, and even though Arsenal proceeded to dominate possession and Theo Walcott pulled one back on 79 minutes, it was too late–a classic example of the Arsenal trait of turning it on only when the game is lost.
Late Twist of the Day: Alexandre Lacazette’s missed PK
This Lyon side is highly rated and would, perhaps, have expected to win away to the weakest side in the group, Gent, especially after the Belgians had Brecht Dejaegere sent off for a high tackle just before halftime. Sure enough, Christophe Jallet headed Lyon ahead after 58 minutes. But then Danijel Milicevic tied it up. Still, when Thomas Foket was sent off with three minuets remaining for bringing down Lacazette in the box, it seemed Lyon would win after all. Lacazette, though, saw his penalty pawed away by the outstretched hand of Matz Sels as Gent’s nine men hung on for the draw.
Major Takeaway of the Day: Bayern remains highly impressive
In a week in which Premier League sides struggled, three out of four losing, and Barcelona could only draw, Bayern Munich made a major statement of intent.
After grim scenes of Greek police setting about unarmed Bayern fans with batons as they cowered against a plastic fence in the stadium, Bayern retained its cool and dispatched Olympiakos with some style, even if two of the goals came in the final two minutes. Thomas Muller scored twice–a chip from wide that was perhaps a mishit cross and a penalty-with Mario Gotze claiming the other.