The second evening of Group Stage fixtures in UEFA Champions League 2011/12 took place on Wednesday 14th September 2011, with a couple of upsets on a night of high quality football as the teams in groups A, B, C and D got their first European Group Stage match under their belts for the season.
Group B – Inter Milan 0-1 Trabzonspor
The biggest, and most surprising, result of the night was Turkish Champions League newcomers travelling to Inter Milan’s San Siro and collecting a 1-0 away victory.
Despite Internazionale starting well, Trabzonspor held them at bay until, in the 76th minute, Ondřej Čelůstka slotted home coolly after Halil Altıntop hit the crossbar, to send the visiting players into delighted celebrations.
Inter, the 2010 champions, will bemoan their wastefulness in front of goal which resulted in one of the biggest upsets in recent memory.
Group B – Lille 2-2 CSKA Moscow
Also in Group B, another entertaining match was taking place in France, where Lille let slip a two goal advantage, allowing CSKA to return to Moscow with a point following an absorbing second half of Champions League football, which ended with the sides locked at 2-2.
Moussa Sow scored his first ever goal with a back-heeled flick which came when a corner CSKA failed to clear hit the post right in the death of the first half, giving the hosts a 1-0 lead at half time.
In the second half, Benoît Pedretti produced a beautiful finish to a good Lille passing move when he ran onto a layoff at the edge of the area and curled a powerful shot into the top-right corner of the net on 57 minutes.
However, Seydou Doumbia of CSKA Moscow had other ideas, and reduced the deficit on 72 minutes, before bursting into the box, playing a one-two pass, and hammering the equalising strike into the top corner in impressive style to earn a share of the points for his side with the clock reading 90 minutes.
Group A – Manchester City 1-1 Napoli
Both Manchester City and Napoli were experiencing Champions League football for the first time, but it was the travelling Italian side who settled the better, and looked to have earned themselves a much-needed Group A victory when Christian Maggio burst into the City half following a Gareth Barry error before sliding a good pass to Edinson Cavani who nut-megged Joe Hart to take a 1-0 lead with 69 minutes on the clock.
Five minutes later, however, City were awarded a free kick around 25 metres from the Napoli goal, which Aleksandar Kolarov expertly curled into the bottom right corner to grab a point for Manchester City in this most difficult of groups.
Group A – Villarreal 0-2 Bayern Munich
Four-time champs, Bayern Munich, returned to UEFA Champions League business as usual as they travelled to Villarreal and picked up a vital three points to go to the top of Group A.
Toni Kroos got the visitors off to a great start when he slammed home on 7 minutes from 12 yards following great work down the left flank by Franck Ribéry. In the second period, Rafinha, who had come on at right-back for the injured Daniel Van Buyten in the first half, made sure of the points by beating his man before powering a low shot, which bamboozled Diego López – who had been otherwise excellent on the night – into misreading the ball, making it 2-0 after 76 minutes.
Bayern have a grip on Group A, which looks to be the toughest in this season’s Group Stage, with all four sides capable, on their day, of great football.
Group C – Benfica 1-1 Manchester United
Manchester United visited Benfica’s Stadium of Light, and needed a phenomenal 41st minute Ryan Giggs strike to earn themselves a point after an impressive Benfica had taken a 24th minute lead through Óscar Cardozo.
United chose to blood Anders Lindegaard in their goal, and the stopper would prove to be one of the best players on the pitch, as he was forced to make smart saves in either half of a match which Benfica arguably edged. But United, after falling behind to a well-taken Cardozo strike, proved just why they reach so far in tournaments, when, having been uninspired in the opening 40 minutes, veteran Ryan Giggs raced towards the edge of the Benfica penalty area before unleashing a magnificent strike into the top-right corner of Artur’s goal.
The Benfica goalkeeper, too, had a fine night, on an evening which either coach would be happy enough to take a point from. Both Benfica and United, on this evening’s evidence, look to be good enough for first and second in this group.
Group C – Basle 2-1 SC Otelul Galati
Basle needed an 84th minute penalty to claim all three points against Champions League newcomers FC Oţelul Galaţi, as both sides were reduced to ten men in the latter stages of the game.
Fabian Freigave the Swiss hosts the lead when he hammered home a header on 39 minutes, but Oţelul Galaţi were back level in the second period when Marius Pena was the quickest to react to a save from Yann Sommer in the Basle net and raced to chip home an unlikely equaliser.
On 84 minutes, though, Adrian Sălăgeanu was adjudged to have made a trip which prevented a goalscoring opportunity – a penalty was awarded, and Sălăgeanu issued with a red card and ordered from the pitch. Alexander Frei stepped up and smashed the penalty low into the bottom left corner to claim three points for Basle.
Group D – Dinamo Zagreb 0-1 Real Madrid
Real Madrid got off to a good, if slightly unconvincing, start to their European campaign by picking up a 1-0 victory away at Dinamo Zagreb, despite losing Marcelo to a second yellow card with around 20 minutes remaining.
Ángel Di María finished off a good Real passing move on 53 minutes to bag the only goal of the game, and claim all three points for Jose Mourinho’s men.
Group D – Ajax 0-0 Lyon
In the other Group D match, Ajax and Lyon, both sides with some European heritage, cancelled each other out in the only 0-0 draw of the evening.
Despite Ajax having slightly more shots on target – to which Hugo Lloris in the Lyon net was always equal – it was Lyon who looked the slightly more dangerous in front of goal, with efforts in either half which looked goal-bound just creeping wide in an otherwise cagey Champions League opener for either side.
UEFA Champions League 2011/12 Group Stage Results – Wednesday 14th September 2011
- Group A – Manchester City 1-1 Napoli
- Group A – Villarreal 0-2 Bayern Munich
- Group B – Inter Milan 0-1 Trabzonspor
- Group B – Lille 2-2 CSKA Moscow
- Group C – Basle 2-1 SC Otelul Galati
- Group C – Benfica 1-1 Manchester United
- Group D – Ajax 0-0 Lyon
- Group D – Dinamo Zagreb 0-1 Real Madrid