Real Madrid avoided the embarrassment of losing to minnows Ludogorets in the UEFA Champions League by coming from behind to win 2-1. The defending European champions fell a goal behind in Razgrad thanks to Marcelinho’s early effort, but Cristiano Ronaldo responded to missing one penalty by scoring another, before Karim Benzema got a second for a 2-1 victory.
In between Ronaldo and Benzema’s goals, Real peppered their hosts with Javier Hernandez the lead culprit with an open-goal miss. They were not without worry themselves, with Ludogorets dangerous from distance, but on the whole, Real were just about worthy of a second straight success in their title defence.
Liverpool became the latest big-name English scalp to be claimed by Basel who capitalised on the Reds’ well-known vulnerability at set-pieces. The Swiss had beaten Manchester United, Chelsea and Tottenham in the last four years and added the five-time Champions League winners to that list to move ahead of their opponents in Group B after Marco Streller converted a 53rd minute corner.
Liverpool’s response was a viciously dipping 35-yard Mario Balotelli free-kick which Vaclik parried into the path of Lazar Markovic whose follow-up was blocked. Even captain Steven Gerrard, so often the saviour in such situations and who scored an added time winner to get their campaign off to a winning start at Anfield against Ludogorets – could not rescue a point with a late free-kick straight at Vaclik.
Like their city rivals, Atletico Madrid managed a slender victory, but their win came against far more decorated opponents. Diego Simeone’s side saw off Italian champions Juventus 1-0 at the Vicente Calderon thanks to Arda Turan’s effort 15 minutes from time.
Full-back Juanfran delivered a perfect right-wing cross to find Turan at the back post, with the Turkish playmaker slotting home to become the first player to score against Juventus in any competition this season.
Markus Rosenberg’s brace gave Malmo a famous 2-0 victory over Olympiacos in their Group A encounter at Swedbank Stadion. Rosenberg benefited from an Olympiacos defensive mix-up to slot into an empty net four minutes from half-time.
The Sweden international scored his and Malmo’s second eight minutes from time to secure all three points for Age Hareide’s side. Malmo then comfortably survived a barrage of late pressure to record a precious victory – their first ever in Europe’s premier club competition.
Danny Welbeck plundered a hat-trick as Arsenal got their European campaign up and running with a 4-1 victory over Galatasaray at the Emirates Stadium. After a positive start and then surviving a couple of dangerous counter-attacks, Arsenal swept into the lead on 22 minutes when Welbeck converted an inch-perfect pass from Alexis Sanchez.
Welbeck doubled Arsenal’s lead on the half hour with another neat finish, this time latching onto a back header before running clear to beat goalkeeper Fernando Muslera. Sanchez slid home a third goal just before the break. The England forward completed his hat-trick on 52 minutes, before Arsenal were reduced to ten men when goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny fouled Burak Yilmaz, who converted the resulting penalty.
Elsewhere in Group D, substitute Adrian Ramos ensured Borussia Dortmund maintained a perfect start to their campaign by sealing victory at Anderlecht.
The Colombian’s late double cemented the lead given to the visitors by Ciro Immobile’s early opener and negated the efforts of home ‘keeper Silvio Proto, who had kept the Germans at bay for more than an hour in between.
After Zenit St. Petersburg and Monaco had earlier played out an attritional goaless draw in Russia, Bayer Leverkusen turned in an impressive performance to open their account in Group C and leave Benfica staring an early exit in the face.
Stefan Kiessling opened the scoring and Son Heung-Min doubled the lead before Eduardo Salvio grabbed one back against the run of play. But Hakan Calhanoglu swiftly netted another from the penalty spot to hand Leverkusen a 3-1 win and leave Benfica bottom of the group without a point.