From Arsenal throwing away a three-goal cushion against Anderlecht to Manchester City meekly surrendering in their home against minnows CSKA Moscow, English clubs endured a horrendous UEFA Champions League week as no club from England managed to pull off a victory in the fourth game of the group stage.
Arsenal vs Anderlecht:
Arsenal spurned their chance to top the group as they threw away a three goal cushion at home. Every time when Anderlecht went forward the visitors looked like threatening Arsenal’s goal. To much relief Arsenal won a penalty and Arteta coolly converted the spot kick in 25th minute. Within four minutes, Alexis Sanchez added another to relieve the pressure. Third from Chamberlin just before the hour mark virtually ended the contest, or did it?
Just when things looked comfortable for the gunners, a quick reply from Anthony Vanden Borre at 61st minute gave the visiting team a glimmer of hope and the hope became reality when the same player converted from the spot on 73rd minute. The impossible became possible in the 90th minute when Mitrovic equalized.
However, Arsenal are to be blamed for conceding the equalizer in the dying minutes. Instead of sitting back and seeing out the result, Arsenal still continued to push bodies forward which exposed their already weak defense. As a result, Arsenal succumbed to their own mistakes. Despite sitting comfortably in second position, manager Arsene Wenger conceded that their team blew away the chance to top the group.
Manchester City vs CSKA Moscow:
After failing to win the first three matches, Manchester City were in a must win situation against CSKA Moscow on Wednesday. But, defensive lapses and lack of disciple saw the blues of Manchester finish the match with nine men and on a wrong side of a 2-1 score-line at home. When Yaya Toure equalized from a free-kick in eight minute to cancel out Moscow’s opener from Doumbia, things looked good for City. However, defensive errors left them chase the game for the second time on 34th minute when Doumbia again put them ahead following a poor pass from Gael Clichy.
Pressure was on Manchester City to turn things around in the second half to take advantage of Roma losing at Bayern for the second position, however lack of discipline cost the team in the second half. Fernandinho, a second half substitute was sent off just 25 minutes after coming on for two bookable offense. Yaye Toure lost his head in the end and got himself sent off for shoving away Roman Eremenko with his hands. A task which, looked harder before the match looks harder for City now. They have to beat both Roma and Bayern Munich in the final two games if they have any chance of progressing from the group.
Real Madrid vs Liverpool:
The giants of Madrid had a comfortable day at office on Tuesday night, as a solitary goal from Benzema in the first half was enough to beat a make shift Liverpool team. All the controversy surrounded Liverpool’s manager Brendan Rodgers for putting up his second team at Bernabau. With important players such as Steven Gerrard, Raheem Sterling, Jordan Henderson, Mario Balotelli and Philippe Coutinho being left out of the squad to face the defending champions in their own den, not much was expected from Liverpool. Hence to see the team come away with a one-goal defeat would not have disappointed the fans to a large extent.
Having said that, seeing the five time European champions going to the Bernabau in a negative mentality did not please many. Furious reaction for the team selection was echoed from various parts of the world. However, Rodgers may still end up being praised if his team manage to beat the league toppers Chelsea in the weekend. Considering the way team are playing currently, not many would bet in the favour of the Merseyside outfit.
Maribor vs Chelsea:
After Chelsea destroyed Maribor in the last match of the group stage, many expected a walk in the park for the English league leaders, but how wrong were they proven. When Agim Ibraimi opened the scoring on the 50th minute many feared the worse for the blues. To the credit, Chelsea managed to put up a good fightback to equalise through Matic in the 73rd minute. Chelsea could have been saved from the blushes in the end, but a penalty miss from Hazard denied the blues from getting all three points.
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho quickly pointed to the fact that the blues failed to win the match due to complacency. Despite the setback, Chelsea are still the favourites to secure the top spot from Group G. Also they are the only English team who have the realistic chance of topping their group. However the Special One will ensure that his team will not take anyone for granted in the future to ensure a safe passage to the knock out stages of the competition.
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