Category: Champions League

Another record for Ronaldo as Real Madrid strikes late to beat Dortmund

Cristiano Ronaldo set another benchmark as he became the first player to score in every Champions League group stage match as Real Madrid beat Borussia Dortmund 3-2 at the Bernabeu.

Real were set on their way by Borja Mayoral’s first goal in the competition, set up by Ronaldo, who quickly added a second himself for his ninth in the Champions League this season.

The defending champions of Europe took the lead after just eight minutes, when Ronaldo waltzed between two Dortmund defenders on the left and poked the ball across the face of goal where Isco helped it into the path of Mayoral, who clipped his finish over Roman Burki.

Ronaldo then put himself on the scoreboard when he curled in a lovely right-foot shot into the far top corner from the left-hand side of the penalty area to extend the lead after 12 minutes.

Both him and Mayoral could have put the match beyond Dortmund but a combination of wayward finishing and good positioning from Burki saw the score remain at 2-0.

Despite lagging behind by two goals, Dortmund took their time to get back into the game and responded through Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who had been anonymous before launched himself at Marcel Schmelzer’s cross to pull a goal back with a diving header a minute before the break.

It was not four minutes into the second half, when Aubameyang equalized from Shinji Kagawa’s pass that had found him unmarked on the edge of the penalty area and, after his initial effort was saved by Keylor Navas, Aubameyang chipped the rebound over the Madrid goalkeeper.

However, Zinedine Zidane’s team did get a third goal with nine minutes remaining when Lucas Vazquez found the bottom corner of the net with a curling effort from the edge of the box.

Dortmund would enter the Europa League despite collecting just two points from their six games, thanks to a better goal difference than Apoel Nicosia who finished on the same amount of points. Meanwhile, Real would learn who their next opponents would be when the draw is made on Monday.

Atletico Madrid drops to Europa League after draw with Chelsea

Diego Simeone believe that Atletico Madrid’s Champions League campaign was not a failure despite being eliminated on Tuesday after a 1-1 draw against Chelsea.

The Madrid team had needed the full three points in order to progress to the knockout stages as both Chelsea and Roma were ahead of them in points in Group C.

But their last group fixture saw the Blues dominated proceedings against the La Liga giants until Atletico opened the scoring when Saul Niguez escaped the attentions of Tiemoue Bakayoko to plant home a header from Fernando Torres’ near-post flick-on after 56 minutes.

Chelsea proceeded to pile more pressure and pour more men forward on Atletico as time ebbed away, and eventually Stefan Savic turned Eden Hazard’s cross into his own net as the pressure told.

With the game ending with the score tied at 1-1, Atletico — semi-finalists last season and runners-up in two of the last four saw their Champions League campaign conclude in a curiously weak manner.

“It hurts, and we’ve actually managed to get more points from the team who finished top of the group than the one who finished bottom,” added Simeone.

“This sort of thing can happen. They gave it their all to win and try to go through until the last minute. We’re fine. What’s important is to be decisive. You need to score. We only lost one game [in the UEFA Champions League], in the 93rd minute. No excuses – we’ll be rated at the end of the season.”

“I’m going to motivate the players for the UEFA Europa League as I would for a friendly, a La Liga game, a Copa del Rey game. When you wear the Atletico shirt, you don’t need additional motivation. It’s now a new challenge for us. New dreams to fight for.”

Jupp Heynckes yet to sign new deal with Bayern Munich

Bayern Munich coach Jupp Heynckes has indicated he is yet to pen a new deal with the defending Bundesliga champions.

Heynckes, 72, returned for his fourth spell in charge of Bayern in what was supposed to be a short-term deal that will expire at the end of the season after Paris Saint-Germain had inflicted a 3-0 Champions League defeat on Bayern, then still under Carlo Ancelotti’s leadership.

Besides lacklustre performances in Europe, Bayern also flopped domestically — they were third in the Bundesliga, trailing behind then leaders Borussia Dortmund by three points.

However, since the Bayern board sacked Ancelotti and appointed Heynckes, Bayern have won nine out of 11 matches in all competitions —  only dropping points against Borussia Monchengladbach, and drawing with RB Leipzig in the DFB-Pokal before advancing on penalties.

The Bavarians even top the league table by six points and have booked their place in the Champions League knockout stages, and the streak would have been cause for many to assume that Heynckes would be re-appointed on a permanent basis.

But despite the progress made under Heynckes he remains without an official contract with the club, though — as Heynckes puts it —  it was because he hasn’t found the opportunity to put pen to paper.

Speaking to fan club Rollwagerl 93 on Sunday, he said: “We don’t have a contract yet. Mr Dreesen [Bayern’s finance CEO] always urges me to come around to sign my contract. But I haven’t had time so far.”

Bayern would play Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League mid-week; though the fixture would be a largely inconsequential one as both teams had already made it into the knockout stages, Bayern could look to avenge their earlier humiliation and assert their European credentials while Paris looks to end the group stage with a 100% performance for the first time.