Wednesday, 6 November 2013

UCL Review - United slack in Spain as City progress to knockouts:

Hello and welcome to my latest blog post where I analyse the games being played during midweek in both the UEFA Champions League and the Europa League.

Tuesday's matches included both Manchester sides being in action, with United desperate for an away win against Real Sociedad to improve their chances of qualification, while local rivals Manchester City could progress to the Last 16 with a home win against Russian side CSKA Moscow.

Tuesday's Champions League Results:

Group A: 

Real Sociedad 0 Manchester United 0
United failed to move 5 points clear at the top of their Champions League group with a 0-0 draw away from home in San Sebastien. 

The EPL defending champions had plenty of chances to break the deadlock, with Mexican striker Javier Hernandez missing a sitter from 6-yards out and van Persie hitting the post just two of the chances that went begging for David Moyes' side in Spain. 

Sitter! Hernandez missed a shot from 6 yards out flying over the bar against Sociedad.

To make matters worse, van Persie missed a penalty in the 70th minute after English winger Ashley Young's alleged dive just inside the box was adjudged to be a foul by the referee. 

Justice? van Persie misses a penalty after Young seems to dive needlessly inside the box.

Young seemed to dive down to the floor quickly after minimal contact in the box

Just to sum up United's poor game, in the last minute of the match, Belgian powerhouse midfielder Marouane Fellaini was given a second yellow card and consequently sent off after a silly, late tackle on a Sociedad midfielder near the centre circle. 

Back luck: Fellaini is sent off after two yellow cards just before full-time to end a poor night for United.

This quote from the manager simply sums it all up, after the game Moyes admitted: "We had enough chances to win. That was a game we should have won.

Struggling: United have two games left, with manager Moyes under pressure to perform

United struggling again, after a narrow 1-0 win at home against Sociedad (thanks to an own goal!) a fortnight ago. They remain top of their group, but have German side Bayer Leverkusen breathing down their necks a point below them, with Shakthar Donetsk in 3rd place.
Ironically, the Ukranian side are a point below Leverkusen which sets up a nice end to Group A as United have to face both sides in their last two games. Enjoying Champions League? Not really. 

Other score in Group A: Shakthar Donetsk also drew 0-0 with Bayer Leverkusen in their group.

Group B:

FC Copenhagen 1 Galatasaray 0
Copenhagen recorded a shock 1-0 win at home against Turkish giants Galatasaray, which moved them off bottom spot in Group B above Italian side Juventus and level on points with the side they beat yesterday thanks to a goal in the 6th minute by Daniel Omoya Braaten. 

Shock: Braaten heads past Muslera to score the only goal of the game for Copenhagen.

Juventus 2 Real Madrid 2
This was probably one of the best games on the night, with Italian giants Juventus hosting Spanish giants Real Madrid. Two giants of world-football, desperate for points to progress in their group and it did not disappoint. A penalty finish by Chilean midfielder Arturo Vidal gave the hosts the lead just before half-time, before a double by world-record forwards Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale in the space of 8 minutes gave Real a 2-1 lead with 30 minutes to play. 

Clinical: Vidal breaks the deadlock, sending Casillas the wrong way from the penalty spot.

Bullet: Bale makes it 2-1 in the 60th minute with a power strike past Buffon into the bottom corner of the net. 

Bale celebrates his 4th goal in Real colours after his world-record move from Tottenham in the summer.
Simple tap-in: Ronaldo equalised for Real with a chip over Buffon in the 52nd minute.
In-form: Ronaldo celebrates equalising for Real with his 21st goal of the season so far. 

However, the game finished 2-2 thanks to a strike by Spanish striker Fernando Llorente in the 65th minute and even though Juventus did well for a point, they have dropped down to the bottom of their group with only 3 points from 4 games - they will not want to drop any more points in their bid for qualification for the Last 16. 

Brave: Llorente does well to avoid Varane's boot as well as heading the ball past Casillas into the net.

Tense game: Llorente celebrates his header with the home Juve fans. 
Group C:

Olympiakos 1 Benfica 0
A slight shock, as Greek side Olympiakos beat Portuguese club Benfica with a slender 1-0 win at home thanks to a goal from striker Konstantinos Manola.

PSG 1 Anderlecht 1
PSG failed to replicate their dominance over Belgian side Anderlecht a fortnight ago, with a 1-1 draw at home thanks to a goal by striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic (surprise, surprise!)

Group D:

Manchester City 5 CSKA Moscow 2
Manuel Pellegrini's side became the first English side to qualify for the knock-out rounds with a comfortable 5-2 win at home against Russian side CSKA Moscow.

The scoring was opened after Spanish playmaker David Silva's silky skills was too much for the CSKA defence and former Manchester United winger Zoran Tosic slid in dangerously near the touchline inside the box. Argentine striker Sergio Aguero slotted the penalty straight past the goalkeeper and the hosts were already ahead after just 3 minutes. 

CSKA had chances of their own, with Ivorian striker Seydou Doumbia failing to convert a chance from close range after some sloppy City defending. 

Aguero made the visitors pay to double the lead after turning his defender inside out before striking past the keeper into the bottom corner of the net in the 20th minute. 

Aguero then went from striker to provider, with a low cross into the box for team-mate and fellow forward Alvaro Negredo slotting past a helpless goalkeeper to make it 3-0 and make it comfortable for City in the 30th minute on the counter attack. 

City were eventually caught out on the back foot, with a spliting pass straight to Doumbia who got past his marker and defender Matija Nastasic before faking past Pantilimon into the net, where he could not really miss from close range to make it 3-1 just before half-time.

You can't help but feel that is something that City need to cut out before the knock-outs begin or they will find themselves in a bad position especially away from home. 

After half-time, Yaya Toure's wonderful pass down the middle to Nasri on the flank saw the ball touched towards Negredo's path to tap the ball into the net out of the goalkeeper's reach for 4-1. 

City conceded a penalty in the 70th minute, after full-back Gael Clichy was adjudged to hold back Doumbia inside the box on the run (even though he looked to make the most of it) and the referee gave a penalty to the visitors. Doumbia stepped up for his brace, and he slotted the ball past Pantilimon, sending under-fire English keeper Joe Hart's replacement the wrong way.

The hosts were continously pressing for the 5th goal, and it eventually came with a hat-trick for Spanish striker Alvaro Negredo heading the ball into the opposite corner to the goalkeeper's dive attempt from James Milner's delivery into the box.  

FACT: Alvaro Negredo is now the first player to score a hat-trick for Manchester City in the Champions League. 

Viktoria Plzen 0 Bayern Munich 1
A less-rampant performance from Bayern, but a good performance nonetheless even though the scoreline suggests otherwise. Mario Manduzkic scored the only goal of the game for the visitors with a header, but Schweinsteiger hit the post as Bayern dominated the game in a quiet game.

Dominant: Bayern celebrate Manduzkic's finish, which was the only goal of the game.