Western Courier

UEFA Champions League rundown

Bradley Piros, Courier Staff

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It’s September; the NFL is back, baseball is heading into playoffs and the NHL is soon returning but that’s not what I want to talk about. I’m here to talk to you about matchday one of the UEFA Champions League.

The first two days of the tournament saw some great matchups, so I’ll walk you through the biggest ones.

I’ll start off with my favorite team, F.C. Barcelona. Lionel Messi and the Catalan giants took on the visiting PSV side from the Netherlands. Barca went on to demolish the Turkish team, with a Messi hat trick.

He scored his first goal on an absolutely beautiful-trademark freekick in the 37th minute to take the 1-0 lead. They’d take that lead into half time and things would be quiet up until the 74th minute when Ousmane Dembele doubled the lead. He took the ball on his right foot, turned nicely around two defenders and slotted the ball passed the diving keeper into the right-side netting.

No less than three minutes later, Messi picked up his second, and Samuel Umtiti picked up his second yellow card to be suspended from the game. It didn’t stop the Spanish side though, as Messi was on a hunt for his hat trick, and that was exactly what he did in the 87th minute. It capped off a great opening match for Barca and a great performance from the captain himself.

The other match in their group was Inter Milan vs. Tottenham Hotspurs. The Italian club took the match 2-1 with two late dramatic goals in the 85th and 92nd minute. Barca and Inter now are atop the group with three points each.

Next up was Athletico Madrid vs. Monaco. The team out of Ligue 1 in France took the early lead in their home stadium, but were unable to hold onto it for long. That’s because in the 31st minute Diego Costa scored the equalizer to gain his team some much needed momentum. In stoppage time of the first half, Jose Gimenez headed in what would be the winning goal, and picked up a well-earned yellow card for his celebration. That game finished 2-1 in favor of Athletico.

The most entertaining match without a doubt, was Liverpool F.C. vs. PSG. This in my opinion could be the final of the whole competition, but we were lucky enough to get it on match day one. This game had huge expectations, and it delivered on every aspect.

Liverpool, probably my second favorite team at the moment, took the match 3-2 through some all-out attack style of offense.

The English side held nothing back and went straight at the backline of PSG. It took all the way up to the 30th minute to get the opening goal, but my oh my was it worth the wait. Danial Sturridge scored a nice header, that absolutely erupted the crowd within the Anfield Stadium. They kept their foot on the gas and earn themselves a penalty kick only six minutes later. James Milner slotted in the penalty against his old club, doubling his team’s lead.

In the 40th minute, Thomas Meunier scored to cut the deficit down to one, but Liverpool took the lead into halftime. It was a quiet game up until the 83rd minute, when the brilliant Frenchman, Killian Mbappe, at only 19 years of age, scored the equalizer. The crowd went dead silent, until the substitute, Roberto Firmino scored the winning goal in extra time. It was a great end, to an even better game in itself, sending the English fans home happy that night.

Champions of last year’s tournament, Real Madrid started their slate off right with a 3-0 win over A.S. Roma the Italian Serie A. Roma are by no means a bad team, but they just couldn’t compete with Los Blancos at their home stadium in the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu.

The team has been recovering since the loss of superstar Christiano Ronaldo but they proved that tthey don’t need him to win big games anymore. The scoring opened up when Isco scored a stunning free kick right outside the 18-yard box to give Madrid the 1-0 lead heading into halftime.

In the 58th minute, the Spanish club doubled the lead by the feet of Gareth Bale. He used to not play in these sort of matches, playing in what many thought was Ronaldo’s shadow, but since the trade, he has been on fire. He gave his team the momentum that would eventually be used to score a third goal in extra time.

Next was Ronaldo’s new club, Juventus vs. Valencia F.C. of Spain. Ronaldo was transferred for around $90 million over the summer, to the surprise of myself and many others. Most people figured he would just retire in Madrid, however that was not the case.

Ever since the change, he’s been in a little bit of a slump. Only scoring one goal in three games time, he is currently off his mark. His side still got the win, but not really with his help. That’s because he picked up a controversial red card in the 29th minute.

Juventus, now playing a man down, on the road, were in a tough spot. The hero of the day ended up being midfielder Mario Pjanic. He put away a pair of penalty kicks in what was a very controversial game with officiating. His team eventually saw out the 2-0 victory to go atop their group.

The last game I’ll talk about, included my favorite team growing up, Manchester United. They’ve always had a special place in my heart because of just how many star-studded players that they are able to sign. Ronaldo used to play there, Wayne Rooney, David Beckham, Robbie Van Persie and many more.

While none of those players currently play for them, they still are loaded with talent. Paul Pogba took the 1-0 lead over Young Boys from Switzerland. He actually went on to double their lead with a penalty kick heading into half time. The Red Devils capped off a great game by adding another goal in the 66th minute Anthony Martial, going on to win, 3-0 on the road.

There was plenty to talk about on match day one, and I encourage you to go find some game highlights or to somehow find these goals scored, because there were some real beauties, and some timeless classics, that will be remembered for years to come.

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UEFA Champions League rundown