Thursday, September 30, 2010

English teams win as Barcelona slips up to Rubin Kazan

The Champions League is providing plenty of interesting stories, for example, do you remember Vincent Enyeama? He was the Nigerian goalkeeper in the 2010 South Africa World Cup, and he basically stopped Messi from scoring his first goal of the World Cup.

Well, Enyeama became the third goalkeeper ever to score in a Champions League match when he slotted in his penalty for Hapoel Tel-Aviv. In that match, where Lyon won 3-1, we also saw a superb strike by Michel Bastos. This was an amazing volley from outside of the box which curled into the top right-hand corner, watch it if you want to see something mesmerizing.


Arsenal's Marouane Chamakh (R) celebrates with his teammate Tomas Rosicky after scoring against Partizan Belgrade during their Champions League Group H soccer match in Belgrade September 28, 2010.  REUTERS/Marko Djurica (SERBIA - Tags: SPORT SOCCER IMAGES OF THE DAY)
Chamakh and Rosicky awkwardly hugging after the second goal
Partizan - Arsenal


Speaking about keepers, Fabianski put in a great performance for Arsenal away against the Serbian side Partizan. Arsenal started with an amazing goal by Andrei Arshavin, Jack Wilshere provided the sublime assist for the Russian, rolling the ball backwards for Arshavin to slam into the back of the net. After that, Cleo equalized for Partizan from the penalty spot, making the sides go into halftime equal.

It was in the 71st minute which Arsenal grabbed the winner, Chamakh clumsily hoofed in the second. And then in the 82nd minute Squillacci grabbed his first goal for Arsenal, a header which Samir Nasri set up from a corner.  But Fabianski truly proved his worth, he saved a penalty to make sure the Serbian side didn't find an equalizer, and then made some great interventions, stopping any chance of a consolation goal for Partizan.


White Hart Lane, Tottenham Hotspur v FC Twente , UEFA Champions League Gp A 29/09/2010 Gareth Bale of Tottenham scores the 4th goal 4-1  Photo Marc Atkins Fotosports International Photo via Newscom
Gareth Bale scoring the fourth goal for Tottenham
Tottenham - Twente

And Tottenham also won, the Spurs defeated Twente 4-1 in a match with penalties galore. First we saw Rafael van der Vaart have his penalty saved by Mihaylov, but the Dutch midfielder made up for his mistake by scoring a great volley in the 48th minute. Then in the 51st minute Tottenham was given another penalty, this time the Russian Pavlyuchenko stepped up to take it, and he found the back of the net. 

After that, things took a turn for the worse for the Spurs, van der Vaart was sent off after receiving a second yellow card due to some silly tackling, and then Twente pulled one back to make it 2-1. But Tottenham were resilient and were awarded another penalty! Pavlyuchenko stepped up again, and scored again, making it 3-1. The match was practically over, and when Gareth Bale scored in the 85th minute, the Tottenham fans were celebrating their first win in the Champions League.


Stamford Bridge, Chelsea v Marseille , UEFA Champions League Gp F 28/09/2010 Nicolas Anelka of Chelsea scoring his penalty 2-0 Photo Marc Atkins Fotosports International Photo via Newscom
A cool cucumber
Chelsea's match against Olympique Marseille had probably one of the best taken penalties I've ever seen. The English side won 2-0,  the first goal was Terry flicking in at the near post from a corner, but the second was a lesson on taking penalties. It was Anelka who took it, and he practically skipped during the run-up, casually bouncing his way toward the ball until he coolly sent Mandanda the wrong way.

Manchester United managed a 1-0 win against their main group rivals Valencia, and it was Javier Hernandez/Chicarito who scored the late winner. Macheda squared the ball to the young Mexican, and somehow Hernandez managed to finish the ball into the bottom corner with two defenders attached to him. But maybe the United's opposition is Rangers, the Scottish side won 1-0 at Ibrox Stadium against Bursaspor. This puts them top of the group, sharing the first place with Manchester United.

KAZAN, RUSSIA. SEPTEMBER 30, 2010. Barcelona s Lionel Messi seen during the Champions League Group D soccer match at Central stadium in Kazan. The match ends in a 1-1 draw. (Photo ITAR-TASS/ Roman Kruchinin)   Photo via Newscom
Messi made his return for Barcelona
But it's not all about the English! We saw Jose Mourinho win thanks to a late goal by Angel Di Maria. Real Madrid were having difficulty breaking down Auxerre, although they were solid at the back, something generic of Mourinho's teams. But the Argentinean broke the deadlock in the 81st with a volley from inside the box.

However the Blaugrana didn't win in Russia when the faced Rubin Kazan, Barca's ultimate bogey team. The match ended 1-1 with both teams scoring penalties, Noboa scored for Rubin and Villa scored for Barcelona. And there was some good news for the Catalan fans, Messi returned after his injury, the Argentine replaced Javier Mascherano in the second half.

Among these results, we also saw Inter Milan destroy Werder Bremen 4-0 at the San Siro. Samuel Eto'o scored a hat trick, taking advantage of the very shaky German defence. And the other side of Milan could only draw with Ajax. AC Milan conceeded first when Suarez broke down the rossoneri defence by nutmegging Nesta and squaring the ball to El Hamdaoui who scored. But the magical Swede Zibra saved AC Milan yet again, an awkward close-range volley equalized against his former team, with the match ending 1-1.

Inter Milan's Samuel Eto'o dribbles (L) past Werder Bremen's goalkeeper Tim Wiese to score during their Champions League Group A soccer match at San Siro stadium in Milan, September 29, 2010.    REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini (ITALY - Tags: SPORT SOCCER IMAGES OF THE DAY)
My favourite picture with Eto'o about to score against a flying keeper
Roma managed a 2-1 win against Cluj with Mexes scoring first from a corner, and then Borriello scoring a fantastic volley to make it 2-0. Cluj got a consolation goal with Rada in the 78th minute, but they weren't able to equalize. And last years finalists Bayern Munich won 2-1 against FC Basel. The Germans conceded first when Frei scored in the 18th minute, but Bayern came back thanks to a double by Schweinsteiger, winning 2-1.

What were your thoughts on the Champions League? Comment below!

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