Champions League : United, Barcelona win, Chelsea and Roma play out thrilling draw

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Champions League : United, Barcelona win, Chelsea and Roma play out thrilling draw

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SportsCafe Desk

10/19/2017

Manchester United, Barcelona, and Paris Saint-Germain joined Besiktas and Manchester City as the only teams to win all their games in the Champions League thus far with comfortable victories yesterday. Chelsea and Roma, though, had to settle for an exciting 3-3 draw at Stamford Bridge in round 3.

Group A

Manchester United had a tough night in Portugal as Benfica's high line ensured that the visitors were caught offside as many as seven times during the game. After a lacklustre first half, that saw no clear-cut chances being created, Benfica's teenage shot-stopper Mile Svilar's error led to the opening goal. Having been tested by Marcus Rashford, who tried to go for goal from corner kicks, on a couple of occasions, the 18-year-old made a ghastly error as he caught a Rashford free-kick before backtracking the ball into the net. It proved to be the only goal of the game as United took complete control of Group A. 

In the other Group A game, Basel pulled off an impressive away win in Russia as they beat the hosts 2-0 to overtake their opponents in the group. Goals from Taulant Xhaka and Dimitri Oberlin ensured that the Swiss side found themselves in a comfortable position going into the final three games of the group stages.

Group B

Paris Saint-Germain continued their incredible form in the Champions League as they decimated Anderlecht 4-0 at the Constant Vanden Stock Stadium yesterday. It took PSG just three minutes to open up a lead as Kylian Mbappe produced a beautiful finish from a tight angle to put the French team in control. A minute before the half-time whistle, Edinson Cavani doubled their advantage as PSG picked up from where they had left off before the break. By the time Angel Di Maria beautifully chipped the ball in for a goal in the 88th minute, Neymar had already got his name on the scoresheet as well. PSG are now the only team left in the Champions League, who haven't conceded a goal in any of their games so far. 

Bayern Munich recovered from their three-goal mauling at the hands of PSG in the last round by inflicting the same on Scottish giants Celtic at the Allianz Arena. Bayern completely outplayed their opponents by hogging 60% of the possession and 15 shots on goal. However, only Thomas Mueller, Joshua Kimmich, and Mats Hummels were able to get their name on the scoresheet. The Germans are now three points clear of the Scots on the table and look like they are finally back after a tumultuous start to the campaign.

Group C

Chelsea and Roma played out the game of the week at Stamford Bridge in a six-goal thriller that saw both teams maintain their positions in the two qualifying spots. It took the English Champions just 11 minutes to take the lead and it came through, David Luiz who curled the ball to the keeper's right from 20 yards. Roma created a host of chances but it was Chelsea who doubled their lead when Alvaro Morata's deflected shot fell kindly for Eden Hazard, who made no mistake in putting the ball in at the near post. There was something for Roma to cheer about going into half-time as Aleksandar Kolarov's deflected shot was too hot for Thibaut Courtois to handle as the Italians halved the deficit. Roma continued to create chances after the interval and it was Edin Dzeko's wondergoal that finally got them parity in the game. The Bosnian then combined with Kolarov as he headed the latter's free-kick into the net to give Roma the lead for the first time in the game. But the lead lasted for just five minutes as Hazard completed a brace from an uncharacteristic header in the 75th minute. That is how the game ended and with the result of the other game being the same, it proved out to be a good one for both sides.

In the early kickoff in Azerbaijan, Atletico Madrid failed to beat Ibrahim Sehic in the Qarabag goal despite having 57% possession and playing the last 10 minutes with an extra man after Dino Ndlovu was sent off for a second bookable offence. Atletico, now, find themselves in a curious position with just two points on the board with half of the group stage gone.

Group D

Barcelona kept their impressive run going under Ernesto Valverde as they thrashed Olympiacos despite being a man short for more than half of the game after Gerard Pique was sent off after 42 minutes. By the time the Catalans took the lead in the 18th minute through a Dimitrios Nikolaou own goal, Pique had already received his first caution. In the 42nd minute, Pique appeared to have extended Barca's lead but the referee correctly adjudged the defender to have handled the ball and not only did he disallow the goal, he also issued a second yellow to send the defender packing. Despite having an extra player on the field, the Greek side failed to test Barcelona regularly and after a three-minute blitz by the Catalans, which included goals from Lionel Messi and Lucas Digne, the hosts took a commanding 3-0 lead. Nikolaou made up for his error as he got the Greeks a consolation goal in injury time. The goal, however, did little to help Olympiacos, who find themselves rooted to the bottom of the table with no wins in three games.

In the other game, Miralem Pjanic and Mario Mandzukic scored on either side of the half to make up for Alex Sandro's own goal to hand Juventus a 2-1 win over Sporting Lisbon in Turin. The win ensures that the Italians now have a three-point lead over the Portuguese side.

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