Matchday 3 of the Group stages of the 2019-20 UEFA Champions League (UCL) have sailed through rather uneventfully for the big boys of European soccer. In a Group D clash, Atletico Madrid beat a visiting Bayer Leverkusen 1-0 to move to 7 points from 3 games, same as Juventus who with their 2-1 win over Lokomotiv Moskow in Turin catapulted to the top of the cluster courtesy a better goal difference than Atletico. A late brace from Argentine Paulo Dybala in the 77th and 79th minute saved the blushes for the Italian giants who trailed for most of the match after the Russian visitors took an early lead through a Aleksei Miranchuk goal in the 30th.
Manchester City were in their normal goal-hungry mode when they swept aside a hapless Atalanta at the Etihad stadium on Tuesday 5-1. English international Raheem Sterling helped himself to a hat-trick while club veteran Sergio Aguero chipped in with a double strike to complete the rout. With this City registered their third win of the Group and lead the “C” cluster with 9 points, miles ahead of 2nd placed Dinamo Zagreb who have managed just 4 points from their 3 outings so far.
Meanwhile, Real Madrid came back from a trip to faraway Istanbul after a 0-1 win over Turkish club Galatasaray. In a scrappy match, the eleven-time UCL champions played well below par and got their only goal through a deflected goal from Toni Kroos in the 18th minute and valuable 3 points in the process. This was Real’s first win from their three outings in Group A following a defeat to Paris St Germain and a draw to Belgian outfit Club Brugge. Los Blancos are now struggling in the 2nd spot with a mere 4 points and 5 behind Group leaders and a dominant PSG who made short work of Brugge away in Belgium with a thumping 0-5 win. Goals from Kylian Mbappe in the 61st, 79th and 83rd minutes and from Inter-Milan on-loan forward Mauro Icardi in the 7th and 63rd flattened the hosts.
La Liga champions Barcelona were lucky to come away from Prague with three points in A Group F clash. A match that could have ended in a 1-1 draw was gifted to visitors thanks to an own goal by Slavia Praha forward Peter Olayinka in the 57th minute. Barca talisman Lionel Messi gave his side an instant lead with a first-time finish after an exchange of passes with Arthur in as early as the 3rd. The home side put intense pressure on the visitors and had as many as 9 shots on target, one of them culminating into a 57th equalizer from Jan Boril who slotted one past Marc ter Stegen from a Lukas Masopust pass. Barcelona climbed to 7 points from 3 matches ahead by 4 points of Inter Milan who beat Borussia Dortmund 2-0 at home on the back of goals from Lautaro Martinez and Antonia Candreva. Dortmund slipped to the third spot after their Milan loss but share the same points as Inter on the Group F table.
Napoli and Liverpool both scored impressive away wins in their Group E outings. Napoli managed to subdue FC Red Bull Salzburg 2-3, riding on a double strike from Belgian international striker Dries Mertens. The 32-year-old’s brace saw him go one ahead of the club legend Diego Maradona’s 116 goals. Napoli head the Group E cluster are a point ahead of Liverpool’s 6. The English club outplayed Belgian side Genk 1-4 with a brilliant double strike from Oxlade-Chamberlain and goals from Sadio Mane and Mohammad Salah.
The normally rampant Bayern Munich were given a run for their money by Olympiacos of Greece when they had to come back from being 0-1 down in the 23rd minute to win 2-3. The prolific Robert Lewandowski was among goals as usual getting a couple in the 34th and 62nd minute. Corentin Tolisso’s 75th strike settled the issue for the visiting Bundesliga giants. Bayern’s victory in Pireas, Greece was their third straight win, taking them to the top of the Group B cluster and well ahead of next best Tottenham Hotspur’s 4 points. The Spurs seemed to have shrugged off their 2-7 thrashing at the hands of Bayern earlier this month to sink Red Star Belgrade 5-0 at the Tottenham stadium. Two goals each from strikers Son Hueng-min and Harry Kane each and one from Erik Lamela sunk the visitors from Belgrade who are struggling on the 3rd spot of the “B” cluster with 3 points from as many games.
Chelsea managed three valuable points and vaulted to the second place of Group H after their trip to Amsterdam. The North London club stunned Ajax 0-1 at the Johan Cruijff Arena with the winner coming from Belgian Michy Batshuayi in as late as the 86th minute. The Dutch champions still lead the cluster although sharing 6 points with Chelsea but are ahead by virtue of a superior goal difference.
Standings and points of teams after 3 Group games
|Real Madrid CF||4|
|FC Bayern Munich||9|
|Red Star Belgrade||3|
|Manchester City FC||9|
|FC Shakhtar Donetsk||4|
|GNK Dinamo Zagreb||4|
|Club Atlético de Madrid||7|
|FC Lokomotiv Moskva||3|
|Bayer 04 Leverkusen||0|
|SK Slavia Praha||1|