The second Game Week of UEFA Champions League 2011/12 Group Stage took place on the evening of Tuesday 27th September 2011. Fans around Europe witnessed some high drama as the best club sides battled it out for group stage points.
In an entertaining evening, fans saw 23 goals scored in four home wins; two score draws; and two away victories by the narrowest of margins as the Champions League showed, once more, why it is considered by many to be the best competition in World football.
Group A – Bayern Munich 2-0 Manchester City
Manchester City’s first ever away fixture in the UEFA Champions League saw them receive a rude awakening as the experienced heads of Bayern Munich shut them out en route to collecting a 2-0 home victory which puts them firmly in control of this difficult Group A table, on 6 points from a possible 6.
Mario Gomez was the star of the show, as he pounced on rebounds from City goalkeeper Joe Hart, twice, to score his ninth and tenth goals of the season late in the first half.
City could find no way past Bayern in the second period and returned from the Allianz Arena with nothing other than a few hard lessons learned.
Group A – Napoli 2-0 Villarreal
Napoli claimed the second place in Group A by recording a strong 2-0 home win over Spanish club Villarreal.
Two goals in two first half minutes from Marek Hamšík (15) and Edinson Cavani (pen 17) proved to be enough for victory for Napoli, though they will be thankful that goalkeeper Morgan De Sanctis had his angles right as Giuseppi Rossi headed a well placed effort on target in the second half.
Despite a rally from Villarreal, they could not break down the organized Italian’s defence, and fell to a 2-0 away defeat which leaves them bottom of Group A, still without a point from two matches played.
Group B – CSKA Moscow 2-3 Inter Milan
The early match of the evening, in Russia, saw CSKA Moscow host Inter Milan with the former having been beaten four times from four in European competition by the latter.
As Inter raced away to a 2-0 lead after 23 minutes, with goals from Lucio (6) and Pazzini (23), it looked to be very much business as usual, but CSKA thought otherwise and gradually imposed themselves on this fixture as the half wore on.
The home fans were becoming noisier as chances began to flow, and were rewarded with a vital goal just before the end of the first half when Alan Dzagoev (45+3) scored with a well-taken direct free-kick, meaning the sides came in at 1-2.
In the second period, the match opened out as CSKA hunted an equaliser, and a really entertaining match ensued.
CSKA got their goal when Vagner Love (77) who had looked dangerous throughout smashed home into the bottom corner from the edge of the area, but home fans’ delight was to be short lived, for Inter set about immediately restoring their lead through Mauro Zárate (79), to take the Italian’s into a 3-2 lead.
Despite chances for either side, Inter held on for a 3-2 victory which puts them second in Group B. CSKA are bottom of this most tricky group, on one point, at this early stage, though, on the evidence of this evening, they can expect more points to follow.
Group B – Trabzonspor 1-1 Lille
Turkish side Trabzonspor proved that their shock Champions League debut win over Inter was no flash in the pan by coming back from a goal behind against Lille, to record a 1-1 draw from their first home fixture in the competition proper.
Lille took the lead through Moussa Sow (30) who scored his second Champions League goal of the season from a very tight angle when put through one-on-one with Trabzonspor goalkeeper Tolga Zengin. The ‘keeper will be disappointed to have allowed the striker to net from such an angle, but Sow took his chance well on the half hour mark to give Lille the half time lead at 1-0.
In the second period, however, the Turkish side fought back, before winning a penalty with 15 minutes remaining. Gustavo Colman (pen 75) held his nerve to strike the spot-kick high into the left hand side of the net and earn his side the point which keeps them top of Group B.
Group C – Manchester United 3-3 Basel
The match of the evening took place at Old Trafford where fans watched a roller-coaster of a game end with the sides sharing six Champions League goals, at 3-3.
United started brightly, right up to the great league form they have displayed domestically at the start of this season, and the writing looked to be on the wall for Basel, as Danny Welbeck (16, 17) scored twice in quick succession.
Despite producing a number of additional opportunities, United failed to add to their tally in the first half, and, even though Basel had had one or two chances of their own, an open first half ended with United leading 2-0.
By the time an hour was on the clock, however, things were very different. Basel struck first in the second period through Fabian Frei (58). The same player then delivered an inch perfect cross to his namesake Alexander Frei (61) to head home past United’s by then over-worked goalkeeper David De Gea and level the scores at 2-2.
The Old Trafford crowd were stunned into silence 15 minutes later, when Alexander Frei (pen 75) hammered home a penalty after a foul on Streller by Antonio Valencia, giving the Swiss side the lead.
It wasn’t until the final minute that Ashley Young restored parity and spared United’s blushes by heading home an Antonio Valencia cross.
Basel top Group C on four points, while United are third on two points following two draws. The last time Manchester United failed to win in their first two Champions League Group Stage matches? 1998/99 – when they lifted the trophy. On the evidence of this evening, their ability to find last-gasp goals when required has not diminished since that memorable final against Bayern Munich.
Group C – SC Otelul Galati 0-1 Benfica
Benfica shared the top points tally in Group C with Basel after grabbing a first half away goal at Oţelul Galaţi through Bruno César (40) which was enough for a narrow 1-0 victory in Romania.
Group D – Real Madrid 3-0 Ajax
Real Madrid showed that the goal scoring form they have started in their recent league matches can translate into the UEFA competition by scoring three unanswered goals past Ajax at Santiago Bernabeu to record a 3-0 victory that puts them in control of Group D on maximum points.
Real got off the mark when Cristiano Ronaldo (25) smashed home from inside the area, before the same player set up Kaka (41) to give the hosts a 2-0 half time lead.
In the second half, the scorers from the first combined before Kaka unselfishly slid the ball to Karim Benzema (49) who had only to prod home into an empty net, which he did.
Ajax could find no reply to these goals, and ended the evening in third place in Group D, with just one point.
Group D – Lyon 2-0 Dinamo Zagreb
Lyon showed that they are the most likely side to keep tabs on Real Madrid by producing a good home display to see off Dinamo Zagreb with a 2-0 win.
A delightful chip from Bafétimbi Gomis (23) got the hosts into an early lead – probably the best goal of the evening – before Bakary Koné (42) added a second with a routine volley from a corner just before half time.
The score was 2-0 at half time to Lyon, and so it remained for the rest of the match, with the hosts content to play possession football, and with Hugo Lloris, as ever, showing good form when called upon in their goal.
Lyon are second in Group D, on four points, two points behind Real, while Zagreb are yet to get off the mark in UEFA Champions League 2011/12.
UEFA Champions League 2011/12 Group Stage Results – Tuesday 27th September 2011
- Group A – Bayern Munich 2-0 Manchester City
- Group A – Napoli 2-0 Villarreal
- Group B – CSKA Moscow 2-3 Inter Milan
- Group B – Trabzonspor 1-1 Lille
- Group C – Manchester United 3-3 Basel
- Group C – SC Otelul Galati 0-1 Benfica
- Group D – Real Madrid 3-0 Ajax
- Group D – Lyon 2-0 Dinamo Zagreb