Cristiano Ronaldo inspired a Real Madrid masterclass and closed in on the UEFA Champions League goalscoring record as they thrashed Liverpool 3-0 at Anfield.
Ronaldo maintained his majestic start to the season with a dazzling display capped by the predatory opening goal that took him to within one of Champions League record goalscorer Raul’s total of 71.
The Portuguse forward has now scored 20 times in all competitions this season and, with Liverpool reeling from his brilliant blast, Karim Benzema then struck twice to finish off the Group B clash before half-time.
Real’s victory leaves the ten-time European champions top of Group B with maximum points from their three fixtures, while the night’s other game in the group saw Ludogrets earn their first-ever Champions League group stage win with a 1-0 victory against Basel, courtesy of Yordan Minev’s 91st-minute strike.
Substitute Lukas Podolski netted a dramatic late winner as Arsenal came from behind with two goals in the final two minutes to beat Anderlecht 2-1 and hand manager Arsene Wenger a 65th birthday to remember at the Constant Vanden Stock Stadium.
It had looked like the Gunners were set for a second away defeat after the Belgians went ahead through Andy Najar on 71 minute. However, just as time was running out, England full-back Kieran Gibbs cracked in a superb volleyed equaliser, before German forward Podolski swept home a dramatic winner.
Elsewhere in Arsenal’s group, Dortmund looked a different side to the one enduring a difficult German Bundesliga campaign, as they demolished Galatasaray 4-0 in Istanbul to record their third consecutive Champions League win in stunning style.
The 2013 finalists are top of Group D with nine points, three clear of second-placed Arsenal, and have yet to concede a goal in Europe this season.
A double from Gabon winger Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, plus goals from Marco Reus and Adrian Ramos preserved Dortmund’s perfect record in Europe so far this season. Jurgen Klopp’s side can book their place in the knock-out phase with another win over Galatasaray in Dortmund in the return leg in a fortnight.
Athletico Madrid moved a step closer to qualifying for the last 16 with a comfortale 5-0 win over Malmo at the Vicente Calderon. It took last year’s finalists until after half-time to make the breakthrough, but once Koke had finished off a fine team move to open the scoring there was little doubt Diego Simeone’s men were headed for victory.
Two goals in two minutes from Mario Mandzukic – his 19th in 23 Champions League appearances – and Antoine Griezmann just after the hour mark made the game safe before late goals from Diego Godin and Alessio Cerci rounded off the scoring.
A second consecutive win for Atletico moves them to the top of Group A alongside Olympiacos on six points after the Greeks beat Juventus 1-0. Switzerland midfielder Pajtim Kasami scored in the first half to lead his side to that shock victory. Olympiacos held off fierce pressure by Juventus in the second half to clinch their fifth straight home win in Europe.
Bayer Leverkusen boosted their hopes of advancing with a 2-0 victory over previously unbeaten Zenit St. Petersburg.
Second-half goals from Giulio Donati and Kyriakos Papadopoulos secured the points for Roger Schmidt’s side and helped them move top of the pool, with Monaco and Benfica battling out a goalless draw. Wendell was sent off for a second bookable offence 11 minutes from time, but the visitors could not capitalise on the extra man.
The other game in Bayern’s group finished goalless between Monaco and Benfica in the principality, which leaves the French side second behind the Germans on five points.