The third Game Week of UEFA Champions League 2011/12 Group Stage concluded with eight matches on the evening of Wednesday 19th October 2011.
In a week which was fewer upsets than in the opening couple of fixtures, the usual suspects began to emerge at the head of their respective groups, as clubs including AC Milan, Barcelona, Real Madrid, Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal, Ajax and Inter Milan all recorded week three wins.
- Man City 2-1 Villarreal
- Napoli 1-1 Bayern Munich
The teams from Group A were in action on Tuesday evening.
Manchester City came back from a goal behind at home to Villarreal after Cani (4) got the visitors off to the best of starts. City leveled just before the break when Marchena turned into his own net on 43 minutes. City left it late to pick up an important first three points in the competition, though, as substitute Sergio Aguero scored the winner on 90+4 minutes when he turned home a Pablo Zabaleta cross.
Napoli remained unbeaten and removed Bayern Munich’s 100% win record in the process when they held the German’s to a 1-1 draw in Italy. Bayern got off to a great start when Toni Kroos scored on just 2 minutes, but that lead was cancelled out when Holger Badstuber scored an Own Goal on 39 minutes, making it 1-1 at half time. The scoreline remained throughout the second half giving both sides a point which keeps Bayern first and Napoli second in this most difficult of groups.
UEFA Champions League 2011/12 Group A Table
Below is the UEFA Champions League 2011/12 Group A table as it stood following the Game Week Three matches.
- CSKA Moscow 3-0 Trabzonspor
- Lille 0-1 Inter Milan
Also on Tuesday, the teams in another tricky group, Group B, were in action, in a set of results which sees Internazionale take control of the group, albeit only by two points.
CSKA Moscow welcomed Inter’s surprise opening day masters, Trabzonspor, and home fans were delighted to see the Moscow men record a 3-0 victory. A brace of goals from Seydou Doumbia (29, 86) sandwiched a 76th minute goal from substitute Aleksandrs Cauņa which added a slightly flattering feel to what had otherwise been a close encounter before two goals in the final quarter of the game.
Giampaolo Pazzini‘s 21st minute goal for Inter Milan away at Lille was enough to give the visiting Italians three important points following a 1-0 victory, though Inter will be thankful that Julio Cesar was in top form in their goal as Lille fired more shots on target, but failed to land the blow required to earn a share of the points. This narrow win means Inter are now top of the group, though Lille showed enough on Tuesday evening to indicate that their current position at the foot of the table will not last long.
Group B is still very much in the balance, with most sides capable of beaten the others in this group when putting their best foot forward.
UEFA Champions League 2011/12 Group B Table
Below is the UEFA Champions League 2011/12 Group B table as it stood following the Game Week Three matches.
- SC Otelul Galati 0-2 Man Utd
- FC Basel 0-2 Benfica
The two favourites to progress from Group C, Benfica and Manchester United, both got down to business away from home on Tuesday evening, and returned from their travels with 2-0 wins that keep them in positions one and two in Group C.
A goal in either half from Benfica saw them end as winners at FC Basel. Bruno César (20) and second half substitute Óscar Cardozo (70) were the goalscorers on a night during which Basel might easily have come aaway with at least a point, having led the shot count, but the Swiss club consistently found themselves unable to beat Artur in Benfica’s net.
Everything happened in the second half of Manchester United’s trip to FC Oţelul Galaţi as Wayne Rooney won and scored two penalties on 64 and 90+2 minutes in an otherwise defensively tight match in Romania. United, while just edging the match, were relieved to score just after the hour mark and avoid failure to win for a third game week in a row in this year’s UEFA Champions League. They move to second in the group, two points behind Benfica, and a point ahead of Basel.
UEFA Champions League 2011/12 Group C Table
Below is the UEFA Champions League 2011/12 Group C table as it stood following the Game Week Three matches.
|4||SC Otelul Galati||3||0||0||3||1||5||-4||0|
- Dinamo Zagreb 0-2 Ajax
- Real Madrid 4-0 Lyon
In the final pair of fixtures on Tuesday evening, the “big name” clubs records multiple goal victories, none more impressive than Real Madrid’s 4-0 home demolition of the usually resolute Lyon.
Real Madrid maintained their 100% win record – they have also yet to concede a single goal in 2011/12’s Champions League – courtesy of goals from Karim Benzema (19), Sami Khedira (47), and defender Sergio Ramos (81). Their third goal was credited as a 55th minute own goal from Lyon goalkeeper Hugo Lloris on a forgettable evening for the French stopper. Lyon recorded just one shot on target from the 90 minutes, but remain in with a good chance of qualifying level on four points with Ajax.
The Dutchmen gave their hopes of getting the best of what is developing into a battle for second place a great boost by picking up a good 2-0 victory at Dinamo Zagreb. Goals at either end of the second half, from Derk Boerrigter (49) and Christian Eriksen (90), would prove to be enough to secure all three points for Ajax in a match the visitors had dominated. They move to second place courtesy of a one-goal-better goal difference over Lyon.
Lyon v Ajax on 22 November looks like being an all-important clash.
UEFA Champions League 2011/12 Group D Table
Below is the UEFA Champions League 2011/12 Group D table as it stood following the Game Week Three matches.
- Bayer Leverkusen 2-1 Valencia
- Chelsea 5-0 Genk
A gap began to form at the top of Group E on Wednesday evening as both Chelsea and Bayer Leverkusen picked up important home wins.
Two goals in four minutes for Bayer Leverkusen turned around their home match with Valencia. The visitors had taken the lead through Jonas on 24 minutes, but a good left-footed finish from André Schürrle on 52 minutes saw Leverkusen level, before Michael Ballack played in Sidney Sam who smashed the ball into the top left corner on 56 minutes to claim the victory, and, it would transpire, all three points from this match for the hosts.
Chelsea looked highly impressive when running out 5-0 home winners over Genk. The return of Frank Lampard and the continued improvement of Fernando Torres saw the latter bag a brace on a night of joy for the Blues at Stamford Bridge. Torres (11, 27) topped the bill in a barnstorming first half which also saw goals from Raul Meireles (8) and Branislav Ivanović (42). Second half substitute Salomon Kalou wrapped things up with a 72nd minute strike.
The results place Chelsea in control of Group E, on seven points, one point clear of Leverkusen, who, courtesy of their home win, have opened up a four point margin over Valencia, who will be keen to record a first victory sooner rather than later if they are to avoid the Europa parachute at the end of this Group Stage.
UEFA Champions League 2011/12 Group E Table
Below is the UEFA Champions League 2011/12 Group E table as it stood following the Game Week Three matches.
- Marseille 0-1 Arsenal
- Olympiakos 3-1 Borussia Dortmund
Arsenal came out best from an interesting round of Wednesday results in the competitive looking Group F.
The Gunners traveled to table-topping Marseille and picked up a 1-0 victory to leap-frog their French hosts courtesy of a late, late strike from substitute Aaron Ramsey (90+2). This goal, the first Marseille had conceded in the tournament, meant Arsenal took control of Group F, if only by a point.
Olympiakos threw their hat into the ring of this group by picking up a much needed victory at home to Borussia Dortmund. The Greek champions won 3-1 in a match that would have been far closer but for their superior finishing skills. José Holebas (8) headed Olympiakos in front, but that goal was cancelled out by a 26th minute Dortmund strike from Robert Lewandowski. However, the hosts were not to be denied in front of a packed house, and Rafik Djebbour fired home from inside the area to regain the lead on 40 minutes, before François Modesto flicked home a free-kick on 78 minutes to make sure of the win.
Marseille v Olympiakos on Wednesday 23rd November could well be a crucial point in this season’s group stage: a Marseille win could see a more than three point gap open up with just two games remaining.
UEFA Champions League 2011/12 Group F Table
Below is the UEFA Champions League 2011/12 Group F table as it stood following the Game Week Three matches.
- Shakhtar Donetsk 2-2 Zenit St Petersburg
- FC Porto 1-1 Apoel Nicosia
Entertaining score draws all around kept Group G looking super-tight.
Cypriot side APOEL Nicosia continued to show that their debut UEFA Champions League season is no flash in the pan when they held last season’s Europa League winners, FC Porto, to a 1-1 scoreline in Portugal. Porto took the lead on 13 minutes through perennial threat, Hulk, but APOEL were quickly back on terms when Aílton drilled a perfectly placed long-range shot into the bottom left corner on 19 minutes. APOEL held out for the remainder of the match, despite coming under pressure, to collect the point which keeps them unbeaten, and at the top of Group G, though, with only one point between them, Zenit and Porto, and with Shakhtar Donetsk just three points away in fourth, there is everything to play for, still.
Probably the game of the week took place in Ukraine, as Shakhtar Donetsk twice took the lead over Russian league leaders, Zenit St Petersburg, only to twice see the lead cancelled out in an entertaining match. Shakhtar were thankful that Olexandr Rybka in their goal was in fine form to save a 10th minute penalty from Roman Shirokov, before Willian (15) smashed home to put them 1-0 up. Roman Shirokov (33) made amends for his penalty miss just after the half hour mark when scoring form an acute angle to level the match. The sides came in at half time with Shakhtar leading 2-1 after Luiz Adriano (45+1) turned and hammered home a low shot in first half stoppage time.
On the hour mark, Zenit grabbed a second equaliser when a defensive slip allowed Viktor Fayzulin (60) to race through and chip a stranded Olexandr Rybka for a share of the points.
Group G remains ultra-competitive, with just three points between bottom and top, and all four sides looking very closely matched.
UEFA Champions League 2011/12 Group G Table
Below is the UEFA Champions League 2011/12 Group G table as it stood following the Game Week Three matches.
|2||Zenit St Petersburg||3||1||1||1||6||5||1||4|
- AC Milan 2-0 BATE Borisov
- Barcelona 2-0 Plzen
It was business as usual in Group H as the two sides most expected to progress collected solid 2-0 home victories to open a 6 point gap between second and third in Group H.
Goals in either half for AC Milan saw the Italian giants run out 2-0 winners over BATE Borisov. Zlatan Ibrahimović (33) and Kevin-Prince Boateng (70) hammered home to give Milan the victory and three points, with the latter scoring from outside the area with a tracer dart of a shot which rebounded in off the crossbar.
Goals at either end of Barcelona’s home match with Plzen saw the holders run out 2-0 victors at Camp Nou. Goals from Andrés Iniesta (10) and David Villa (82) proved to be the difference in another fine performance from the Catalan side.
The results mean Milan top the group, level on 7 points with Barcelona. It looks like a straight shoot-out between these sides for the top of the group is all that remains to be answered – AC Milan v Barcelona takes place on Wednesday 23rd November 2011.
UEFA Champions League 2011/12 Group H Table
Below is the UEFA Champions League 2011/12 Group H table as it stood following the Game Week Three matches.
What do you think about UEFA Champions League 2011/12 Group Stages? Who will qualify? What are the important fixtures? Who will lift the trophy? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.