The UEFA Champions League returned back to action last night and matchday two saw some interesting twists and turns. While Real Madrid is facing goal-scoring woes with Ronaldo no longer at the helm, his new club, Juventus, did just fine without him on Tuesday.
For the first time in more than a decade, Madrid has gone three straight games without a goal after losing 1-0 at CSKA Moscow in an early setback to the Spanish club’s title defense in the Champions League.
Madrid is running into some problems in the post-Ronaldo era, having won only two of its last six games in all competitions. They arrived at Luzhniki stadium – where Spain lost to Russia in the last 16 of the World Cup – having also failed to score in its last two Spanish league games.
The last time Real Madrid went goal-less in three consecutive matches was back in Janauary 2007.
Ronaldo, who joined Juventus from Madrid in a blockbuster deal worth 112 million euros this season, was missing for the Italian champions in their match against Young Boys after his sending-off against Valencia in the opening matchweek.
Paulo Dybala stepped up in the Portuguese superstar’s absence by scoring a hat trick in a 3-0 win to put Juventus on top of its group and claim the second matchball of the tournament.
Also, another of Ronaldo’s former clubs is struggling, too. Apparently, Manchester United’s bus got stuck in traffic – leading to a delayed kickoff against Valencia – and the team never got going on the field either in a dull 0-0 draw at Old Trafford.
The stalemate comes after a week when United lost at home to second-tier opposition Derby County in the Carabao Cup and most recently to West Ham in the Premier League. This result means Jose Mourinho's men have failed to register a home win since its 2-1 win over Leicester City on the opening weekend of the Premier League.
CSKA’s winning goal against Madrid came after 65 seconds, but it wasn’t the quickest strike of the night. Hoffenheim scored even earlier – after 44 seconds, to be precise – against Manchester City, which fought back to win 2-1 and revive its Champions League challenge after opening with a loss.
David Silva scored a late winner past Hoffenheim goalkeeper Oliver Baumann to clinch a 2-1 win for Manchester City. Madrid and Man City, two of the main contenders for the top prize in European club soccer, were handed early wake-up calls and only one managed to react.
Nikola Vlasic intercepted a stray pass from Madrid midfielder Toni Kroos to score what proved to be the winner for CSKA. Madrid struck the goal frame on three occasions but couldn’t find an equalizer on a night the titleholders were without the rested Sergio Ramos, the injured Gareth Bale (thigh) and Marcelo (calf), and also Isco Alarcon after he underwent surgery for appendicitis last week.
With Roma beating Viktoria Plzen 5-0 on the back of Edin Dzeko’s hat trick in the other game in Group G, CSKA is the surprise leader on four points ahead of Madrid and Roma on three each.
The pressure was on City after its 2-1 home loss to Lyon in the opening round of Group F and it got worse for the English champions when Ishak Belfodil scored inside the first minute for Hoffenheim.
City hit back quickly through Sergio Aguero’s equalizer but left it late for the winner, David Silva showing speed of thought to pounce on a loose ball ahead of defender Stefan Posch and shoot home low in the 87th.
Lyon recovered from two goals down to draw 2-2 against Shakhtar Donetsk at home, but no one was there to see it. As a punishment for the crowd disorder and racism that marred their run in the Europa League last season, Lyon was playing its opening home game in the group stage in an empty Groupama Stadium. Lyon leads on four points, one more than City.
UNITED’S LATE ARRIVAL
After its city rival left it late, Manchester United turned up late. Coach Jose Mourinho said police refused to give the team bus an escort from its hotel to Old Trafford for its match against Valencia.
“We left the hotel at 6 o’clock, hopeful that 30 minutes would be enough, which it normally is,” Mourinho said. “The police refused to do an escort so we came by ourselves. It took 75 minutes.”
Heavy traffic was the earlier official reason given by UEFA, meaning kickoff was put back by five minutes. A late rally on the field failed to yield a goal that would have secured a second straight win for United in Group H and it proved to be another frustrating night for Mourinho, who is under some pressure after United’s underwhelming start to the season. United is in second place on four points, two behind Juventus which heads to Old Trafford for the teams’ third match in three weeks.
Dybala scored in the fifth, 33rd and 69th minutes against Young Boys. Ronaldo was watching from the stands after getting his first red card in the competition in the previous round. He will however return to face his boyhood club in the double header against Manchester United in the coming match weeks.
BAYERN MUNICH WOBBLING
Bayern Munich extended its winless run to three games in all competitions by drawing 1-1 at home to Ajax.
Noussair Mazraoui scored for Ajax after Mats Hummels headed Bayern into an early lead, and the German side was fortunate to secure a point after Lasse Schone rattled the crossbar in injury time.
Bayern’s poor run has come after the team won its first seven games of the season across all competitions. Bayern and Ajax have four points. Benfica is one behind after beating AEK Athens 3-2.
(With AP inputs)