Wednesday in Champions League play visiting Real Madrid defeated Sweden’s Malmo FF 2-0, hots Atletico Madrid lost 1-2 to Portugal’s Benfica, and Sevilla lost 0-2 to Italian hosts Juventus.
Real Madrid had the run of their game and also benefited from a 77th minute red card that put them a man up. Cristiano Ronaldo scored both goals drawing even with Raul for top goal scorer of Real Madrid while also reaching the 500 goal mark placing him 25th in the world’s all-time list of football scorers. Watch the ease and skill with which Ronaldo puts the breakaway opportunity into the net—just the way your coach taught you.
Benfica outplayed Atletico at the Vincente Calderon, not an easy task for any team. But in fact the Spanish team’s defensive play was poor all night while the Portuguese team applied pressure throughout the field, and exploited every mistake the hosts made. Julio Cesar, in goal for Benfica, was splendid making several crucial saves. The visitors earned their victory.
At Turin, Juventus often seemed the only team on the pitch as they dominated play against a Sevilla that seemed to be sleepwalking for long stretches of the game. Alvaro Morata’s 41st minute header and Simone Saza’s 87th minute breakaway goal were the only scores, but Juventus could have tallied more often. Meanwhile Gianluigi Buffon had a relatively quiet evening.
Yesterday, Valencia beat hosts Lyon 1-0 on a 42nd minute golazo by Algerian Sofiane Feghouli who took Pablo Piatti’s lay-off for a blast from the edge of the box that Lyon’s Portuguese goalkeeper, Anthony Lopes, barely got his fingertips on only to see the ball deflect into the goal off the crossbar.
Barcelona came back late at home in their Champions League match against a very determined Bayer Leverkusen who had taken a 1-0 lead via a Kyriakos Papadopoulos header off a corner at the 22nd minute. But, second half substitutes Sergi Roberto and Munir El Haddadi made all the difference for a Barca team that had all but lost its rudder without the injured Lionel Messi in the lineup.
Roberto’s sliding toe poke tying score at the 80th minute, came off a rebound from a Munir shot. Luis Suarez’s zinger of a goal from just inside the box came off a great run by Munir who had eluded three before setting his teammate for the winning goal at the 82nd minute.
Bayer had the run of the game despite Barca’s 70% possession as the Germans defended so intensely the Catalans could barely possess outside their half. When Leverkusen took to the offensive they were almost always dangerous. When Barca defended, they were so porous that a stronger side would have tallied several goals with that many opportunities. Chicharito Hernandez alone had three great chances go missing.
In a game that saw Andres Iniesta have to leave with a pulled hamstring that will have him out of action for three weeks coach Luis Enrique seemed to make the right tactical moves at the right time. In quick succession he substituted Munir, Roberto and Jordi Alba and the three sparkplugs did their thing inside twenty minutes.
Luis Enrique summed up the match and Barca’s current patch of injuries saying: “It was a tough night. Our second game and win without our best player. Sometimes you win with faith, sometimes with heart, and sometimes with great play. It is clear today was about faith.”
The Catalans have now leapfrogged their German counterparts to lead Group E by a point, while Real Madrid lead Group A on goal differential over PSG, Atletico Madrid are in second place in Group C with Portugal’s Benfica in first, Sevilla are second in Group D on goal differential, behind a perfect Juventus, and Valencia are second in Group H, behind Zenit St. Petersburg.