Dream Return To The Champions League For United As English Sides Impress

Champions League Review Manchester United

Manchester United made a winning return to the Champions League in their first game in the competition since 2015. The game against Swiss champions Basel got off to an uncertain start with star man Paul Pogba coming off injured. It was, however, Pogba’s replacement Fellaini who opened the scoring 10 minutes before half time. The score stayed at 1-0 despite United’s dominance until Romelu Lukaku scored his sixth goal in as many games before the hour mark. Markus Rashford rounded off the scoring in his Champions League debut to give United a comfortable 3-0 victory. It was a dominant performance and the home side could have scored more but that just shows their strength at this moment. The sides in United’s group should not cause them too many problems, particularly at home and that was outlined in this game. CSKA Moscow won the other game in this group with an impressive 2-1 win away at Benfica.

Chelsea got their Champions League season off to the best possible start with an emphatic 6-0 win at home to Azerbaijan champions Qarabag. A much-rotated side took to the field at Stamford Bridge and it took just 5 minutes to open the scoring, Pedro scoring a curling effort from 20 yards. It was then not long until Italian right back Davide Zappacosta scored on his first start for the club. Another man getting his first goal for Chelsea was Tiémoué Bakayoko who added Chelsea’s fourth after Azpilicueta scored and if was Mitchy Batshuayi who rounded off the scoring late on. The heavy win was important for Chelsea as they face two challenging sides in the group. Roma and Atletico Madrid played out a 0-0 draw in Italy to give Chelsea a points, and goal difference advantage from the start.

Manchester City also got their European campaign underway with a heavy win as they beat Feyenoord 4-0 away. The Dutch champions got off to a slow start and John Stones headed City’s opener in the 2nd minute. Things got worse for the home side after that as City raced to a 3-0 half time lead through goals from Aguero and Jesus. Stones then added his second in the 63rd minute to complete the victory. Although Feyenoord were better after half time it was already too late and City looked comfortable throughout. Shakhtar Donetsk caused the upset in this group as the beat Napoli 2-1 in Ukraine.

Tottenham had one of the more difficult test of the English sides in the opening round as they welcomed Borussia Dortmund to Wembley. It was a test which they passed however as they ran out 3-1 winners. The score line was more down to the clinical finishing of Harry Kane though than their general play as the home side were on the back foot for much of the game. They got off to the perfect start with Son Heung-min opening the scoring in the 4th minute. Yarmolenko then pegged Spurs back before Kane restored the lead in the 15th minute. It was an electric start to the game but the score remained 2-1 until the break. Dortmund pressed hard and saw a lot of the ball but Kane scored his second goal on the hour mark to give some breathing space. The game finished 3-1 but it could have been different had the away side not seen a goal chalked off for what seems an incorrect offside decision. A perfect start is what was needed from Spurs in a group which contains holders Real Madrid and that’s what they got. Madrid had an easier night as they won 3-0 at home to Apoel Nicosia.

Liverpool were the only English side not to win their opening game as they squandered opportunities in their 2-2 draw with Spanish side Sevilla. In what was a repeat of the 2016 Europa League final, Liverpool fell behind within 5 minutes as Ben Yedder finished from close range. It wasn’t long until Firmino ended a fine team move to level the scores in the 21st minute. The home side then went into half time with a 2-1 lead courtesy of a largely deflected Salah strike. The chances to extend their lead came after the break but Liverpool failed to capitalise, most notably with Roberto Firmino’s penalty miss. It was then Sevilla who came back into the game and levelled the scores again with less than 20 minutes remaining. That’s how the scores stayed despite an injury time chance for the away side to win it and Joe Gomez receiving his second booking with very little time remaining. The other game in this group also ended in a draw as Maribor and Spartak Moscow drew 1-1.

In other notable matches during an entertaining opening round, Celtic lost 5-0 at home to Paris Saint-Germain and Barcelona beat Juventus in Spain.

Bigger tests will come for Manchester United in this seasons competition but you can only beat what comes at you. A dominant 3-0 win is the perfect way to start their campaign and sets them up to try and top the group. Next is a trip to Moscow as they face CSKA, possibly the toughest game of the group.