Friday, 6 November 2015

Champions League Matchday Four Review

Matchday four of the Champions League traditionally starts the list of qualifiers for the next round and this year is no different with three sides safely advancing to the last 16.

Real Madrid became the first side to qualify for the next stage as they secured a 1-0 win at home to Paris St Germain who remained second after falling to a 35th minute winner from Nacho but they remain in the hunt to qualify with a four point gap over third place.

Shakthar Donetsk sit third after claiming their first win of the group with a comfortable 4-0 win over Malmo who slip to the bottom of the group on goal difference. The Ukrainians opened the scoring on 28 minutes through Gladkiy before doubling the lead just after half-time with a penalty from Darijo Srna for 2-0. The Swedes seemed to be on the way to defeat as Eduardo added a third for the hosts on 56 minutes and the win was confirmed with a 73rd minute effort from Teixeira who made it 4-0 but the miserable night for Malmo was added to late on with the sending off of Arnason on 89 minutes.

Manchester United moved to the top of the group with a narrow 1-0 win at home to CSKA Moscow with the crucial strike coming in the 78th minute as Wayne Rooney ended his side's run of three games without scoring.

PSV Eindhoven also move up the standings by displacing opponents Wolfsburg with a 2-0 success which saw a tight first half at 0-0 broken on 55 minutes by Locadia's opener and hopes of the Germans salvaging a point were dashed late on by an 86th minute strike from De Jong.

FC Astana remain bottom of the group but still in the hunt to qualify as they secured a surprise 0-0 draw at home to second placed Atletico Madrid who wasted the chance to go clear at the top in the day's early kick-off.

Benfica took advantage of the group's other result to move to the top of the group with a 2-1 win over Galatasaray. A closely fought first half saw the sides remain level at the interval but it took just seven minutes of the second half for the hosts to open the scoring as Oliveira made it 1-0 but the visitors were soon back on level terms ad Lukas Podolski levelled on 58 minutes. However, the points would go to Benfica as Luisao made it 2-1 on 67 minutes and the hosts even managed to hold on with ten men after Gaitan was sent off five minutes from the end.

Juventus missed the chance to extend their gap at the top of the group as they drew 1-1 away to Borussia Monchengladbach who remain bottom of the group on two points. The Germans opened up an early lead through Johnson on 18 minutes but they went into the interval on level terms as Liechtsteiner equalised on 44 minutes for the Italians. The visitors were dealt a blow as Hernanes was sent off on 55 minutes but the hosts were unable to capitalise with an extra man and had to settle for a point.

Manchester City secured their spot in the next stage with a comfortable 3-1 win away to Sevilla who remain third as a result. City raced into a 2-0 lead inside 11 minutes with goals from Raheem Sterling and Fernandinho before being pegged back by a 25th minute effort from Trémoulinas. The points were sealed in the first half as Wilfried Bony added a third on 36 minutes.

Barcelona edged towards the next stage with a comfortable 3-0 win over BATE Borisov who remain bottom of the group. A 30th minute penalty from Neymar saw the hosts go ahead before a second on the hour mark from Luis Suarez left the visitors with a mountain to climb to avoid defeat but the defeat was confirmed in the final ten minutes as Neymar slotted in his second and the Catalan's third on 85 minutes.

AS Roma came out on top in a five-goal thriller at home to Bayer Leverkusen with the 3-2 win allowing them to leapfrog their opponents in the group. A perfect start from the hosts saw them open the scoring inside two minutes through Mo Salah before Edin Dzeko added a second for 2-0 on 29 minutes. Bayer took just six minutes of the second half to draw level at 2-2 as Mehmedi and Hernandez struck in the 48th and 51st minutes before a double blow for the Germans saw Toprak sent off on 79 minutes  before the resulting penalty from Pjanic secured the win for the Italians.  

Bayern Munich remain top of the group after a 5-1 demolition of Arsenal who now face a huge task to qualify. Robert Lewandowski continued his stunning scoring run with the opener inside ten minutes before Thomas Muller added a second on 29 minutes for 2-0 and David Alaba added a third just before half-time. Arjen Robben looked to have sealed the win for the Germans as early as the 55th minute as he struck a fourth but Olivier Giroud gave the Gunners hope with a 69th minute effort. The gloss on the win for the hosts came in the 89th minute as Muller struck for a second time to make it 5-1.

Olympiakos sit second but level on points with Bayern after a 2-1 win at home to Dinamo Zagreb 
who were denied a point by a late strike. The Croatians opened the scoring with a 21st minute effort from Hodzic before being pegged back on 65 minutes by an equaliser from Pardo. The visitors suffered a blow in their pursuit of regaining the lead with the sending off of Pivaric on 79 minutes but their despair got worse in the final minutes as Pardo struck for a second time to secure the three points.

Chelsea boosted their hopes of qualification with a 2-1 win at home to Dynamo Kyiv who the leapfrogged in the group. The Blues went ahead on 34 minutes via an unfortunate own goal from Dragovic but the defender redeemed himself in the second half with a 77th minute equaliser for 1-1. However the spoils were to go to the Blues as Willian secured the win with an 83rd minute strike.

FC Porto remain clear at the top of the group after a 3-1 win away to Maccabi Tel Aviv who as a result cannot reach the last 16. The visitors took just 19 minutes to strike the opener as Tello scored for 1-0 and they were two goals to the good after a 49th minute effort from André. Layun added a third on 72 minutes to seal the points but the hosts had the final say as Zahavi slotted in a 75th minute penalty to make it 3-1 with their first goal of the group itself.

Gent secured their first win of the group stage win a narrow 1-0 win at home to Valencia who missed the chance to secure qualification had they had won. The crucial strike came on 49 minutes as Sven Kums slotted in a penalty that keeps the Belgians in the hunt for the last 16.

Zenit St Petersburg secured their spot in the last 16 after extending their perfect record to four wins with a 2-0 win away to Olympique Lyonnais who remain without a win . The Russians opened the scoring on 25 minutes as the in-form Dzyuba continued his scoring streak but he went one better by scoring a second for 2-0 on 57 minutes. The sides both ended the game with ten men after Lyon's Gonalons was dismissed on 72 minutes with Zenit's Anyukov following on 88 minutes.