A record-breaking week in Europe saw the first day of fixtures accumulate an incredible 40 goals from just eight matches, even before the Wednesday night’s games.
Chelsea played host to Slovenian champions Maribor at Stamford Bridge in one of Tuesday night’s notably prolific clashes. Marc Atkins was Offside’s man at the ground.
With Diego Costa unavailable due to injury, Loic Remy started up front for the Blues but he too was forced off after looking uncomfortable for much of the early first half.
The French forward opened the scoring on the 13 minute mark, but in doing so hurt himself to such an extent that he had to leave the field for Didier Drogba.
It took just 10 minutes for the Ivorian to get on the score sheet as he converted a penalty from the spot. Captain John Terry made it three just after the half hour mark.
Jose Mourinho’s side scored another three goals in the second half, with a late brace by Eden Hazard rounding out the score line after Mitja Viler put the ball in the back of his own net.
A routine yet rampant victory for the Blues.
Over in Rome, our friends at L’Equipe were busy snapping away as Bayern Munich dismantled AS Roma in their own stadium.
Pep Guardiola’s side looked to be at their fluent and potent best, as they put seven goals past the team from the Italian capital.
Their prolific win made it nine points out of nine for the German champions with Arjen Robben getting things underway on the nine minute mark. He completed his brace on the half hour mark, but not before strikes by Mario Gotze and Robert Lewandowski made it 3-0 to the visitors.
Everyone’s favourite Raumdeuter, Thomas Muller, made it 5-0 from the spot six minutes later to end the flow of goals for the first half. Spectators had to wait for the hosts to conjure up a consolation through ex-Arsenal man Gervinho after 66 minutes.
The goal only spurred Bayern back into action however, and the Bavarians soon made it 7-1 thanks to strikes from substitutes Franck Ribery and Xherdan Shaqiri.
There were also plenty of goals over in Gelsenkirchen too, where Schalke hosted Sporting Libson. Witters shot the action.
Roberto di Matteo’s new team eventually won the game 4-3, but not before needing to come back from behind early on to cancel out Nani’s early goal.
Schalke then set about building a seemingly formidable 3-1 lead, but they still needed to find another strike in injury time to secure all three points after Sporting fought back to draw level.
On paper at least, Paris Saint-Germain’s trip over to Cyprus to take on APOEL Nicosia looked like another match ripe for an eye-watering glut of goals.
However, the French champions could only manage a 1-0 win against their less heralded opponents in the East Mediterranean. Images by L’Equipe.
Yet PSG are unlikely to be too upset. With three points in the bag, the Parisians are now sitting pretty at the top of Group F, one place and a single point ahead of Barcelona. Ajax are now five points worse off than the group leaders in third.
Wednesday night saw Marc Atkins hot foot it to Belgium for Arsenal’s away clash with Anderlect.
The fixture coincided with Arsene Wenger’s 65th birthday, but the Gunners’ opponents were in no mood for sentimentality or celebrations in aid of the visiting manager.
In terms of goals, the game needed a while to get going, and it wasn’t until well after the hour mark in the second half that the deadlock was broken.
Andy Najar headed home a cross from the highly-rated Dennis Praet to put Anderlect ahead. It looked as though Wenger’s birthday was about to usher in a further disappointment for a season that has already featured so many.
However, Arsenal showed their mettle and later came back to seize the match in its closing moments. Keiran Gibbs was the man to score the vital equaliser on the 89th minute mark to offer his teammates hope that they could yet turn the fixture around.
And that they did, through substitute Lukas Podolski. The Poland-born German international has come in for a fair amount of criticism of late, but he was the match winner for Wenger and Arsenal on a late Autumn’s evening in Belgium.
Having snatched victory from the jaws of defeat, the Gunners left the pitch in high spirits, and with ambitions to make this turnaround a springboard for their season. For Anderlect however, it was a bitter pill to swallow.
Back in England, Liverpool were taking on last year’s winners, Real Madrid. Simon Stacpoole was on hand to photograph such a grand showdown between two of Europe’s most successful clubs.
Unfortunately for the Reds however, the Spanish giants had more than just history to back up their reputation however, and were clearly the superior side throughout.
Only the distraction of a Clasico match against Barcelona at the weekend prevented them from unleashing their true potential against a Liverpool side that look lost and impotent at home.
Yet the fans at Anfield never stopped singing and deserve credit for honouring former Manchester United forward Cristiano Ronaldo, who lived up to his billing on his latest return to English football.
The Portuguese got the scoring under way for Real with a wonderfully taken strike that evaded a diving Simon Mignolet. More goals were to follow.
Karim Benzema made it two and then three with a tremendous looping header and a snappy flash of a finish in front of goal to make it 3-0, which is how it stayed until the final whistle.
Had certain players not treated the second half as a warm down to save themselves for their weekend meeting with Barcelona, the score line could well have become embarrassing for Liverpool.
Thursday night saw the every half of Merseyside get into the spirit of things as Everton took on Lille over in France in the Europa League.
Marc Atkins was once again called into action for Offside as he made his way back from covering Arsenal in Belgium.
Roberto Martinez’s side didn’t look too distracted from the trouble that had flared in the city centre prior to the game, where some away fans had clashed with Police.
In contrast to the action in the Champions League prior to the game however, this one didn’t quite catch fire when it came to goalscoring.
For the visitors, Samuel Eto’o looked to be the most likely livewire to break down Everton’s opponents while on-loan Liverpool striker Divock Origi showed enough to suggest he should maybe already be playing ahead of Mario Balotelli at Anfield.
The game eventually ended as a 0-0 draw however, with both teams going their separate ways on the final whistle with a point each in hand.
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