English Premier League clubs fail to impress in Champions League

Posted on by SoccerPunter

Manchester United and rivals Manchester City both failed to get off to winning starts on Wednesday in the Champions League as they were both held 1-1 by Benfica and Napoli respectively.

Napoli at least managed to grab a point away from home, better than their Serie A rivals and 2010 champions Inter Milan, who suffered a stunning 1-0 home defeat at the hands of Champions League debutants Turkish side Trabzonspor.

Trabzonspor were only in the group stage because rivals Fenerbahce were kicked out over a domestic match fixing scandal.

There were no such problems for other former champions Bayern Munich and Real Madrid as the Germans secured a fine 2-0 away win at Villarreal while Real beat Dinamo Zagreb 1-0 away.

City were on the front foot from the start, pinning Napoli back with Edin Dzeko and Samir Nasri going close early on.

However, the visitors settled and went even closer to breaking the deadlock as Ezequiel Lavezzi outstripped Vincent Kompany and unleashed a superb effort from 25 yards, which hit the angle of the crossbar and post.

City’s Ivorian midfielder Yaya Toure – a Champions League winner with Barcelona – produced the individual effort of the first-half as he picked up the ball and raced into the Napoli half, played a 1-2 with Sergio Aguero, before firing from long distance only for it to come back off the bar.

Napoli took the lead with a brilliant effort as Edinson Cavani slotted home after a great run by Christian Maggio only for Aleksander Kolarov to level minutes later with a superb freekick.

United also started well against Benfica but last season’s finalists failed to take their chances, whereas Paraguayan striker Oscar Cardoso made no mistake for the hosts to break the deadlock.

Cardoso controlled Nicolas Gaitan’s delightful pass and fired home from the edge of the box.

United levelled just before half-time through the evergreen Ryan Giggs as he cut in from the right and fired home from outside the box – to set the bar ever higher for the oldest player to score in the competition as at 37 years and 289 days he beat his own mark set in April.

The Welsh great also set another benchmark making it 16 Champions League campaigns he has scored in, breaking the mark he shared with former Real Madrid icon Raul.

Inter just could not break down the Trabzonspor defence and the hosts were left stunned when Czech right-back Ondrej Celustka gave the visitors the lead in the second-half, shooting past Julio Cesar after Halil Altintop’s volley came back off the bar.

Real took their time to assert their authority over Croatian hosts Dinamo Zagreb, making their first appearance in the competition in 11 years, until Argentinian wing Angel di Maria struck in the 53rd minute.

Bayern Munich – who are motivated more than ever to win this season’s edition as the final is at their home ground – made a dream start away at Villarreal with German international Toni Kroos shooting home.

They added a second through substitute Rafinha 15 minutes from time.

French champions Lille – for whom high profile signing Joe Cole came on from the bench in the closing stages – only had themselves to blame as they let a 2-0 lead slip to end up being held 2-2 at home to CSKA Moscow.

Lille were in total control by the 57th minute after goals from Moussa Sow and Benoit Pedretti but a double from Seydou Doumbia gained the Russian side what could prove to be an invaluable point.

View Champions League fixtures and results

Group A:
Manchester City (ENG) 1 Napoli (ITA) 1
Villarreal (ESP) 0 Bayern Munich (GER) 2

Group B:
Lille (FRA) 2 CSKA Moscow (RUS) 2
Inter Milan (ITA) 0 Trabzonspor (TUR) 1

Group C:
Basel (SUI) 2 Otelul Galati (ROM) 1
Benfica (POR) 1 Manchester United (ENG) 1

Group D:
Dinamo Zagreb (CRO) 0 Real Madrid (ESP) 1
Ajax (NED) 0 Lyon (FRA) 0

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