Champions League: Dreadful Openers
Sept. 19, 2019
Madrid/ Piraeus/ Munich: It has been a dreadful openers for top contenders in the Champions League, as two top contenders Juventus, and Tottenham signed a pace treaty with their respective opponents sharing points.
On Wednesday, Hector Herrera grabbed a dramatic point on his Atletico Madrid debut with a late header that saw his side come back from two goals down to draw 2-2 in their opener against Juventus, which was followed by Tottenham letting off two-goal cushion to draw 2-2 with Olympiakos.
It was Atletico Madrid's Hector Herrera who anchored his side to grab a dramatic point on his debut against Juventus. Herrera came off the bench to crash home Kieran Tripper's last-minute corner and complete the comeback after Juve had gone ahead through Juan Cuadrado's superb strike seconds after the break and a bullet header from Blaise Matuidi on 65 minutes.
Stefan Savic gave the home fans hope when he pulled one back for Atletico five minutes after Frenchman Matuidi had doubled the away side's lead. Cuadrado had flashed Juve into the lead two minutes after the restart with an exceptional strike after good work from Gonzalo Higuain, who rolled a neat pass that allowed the Colombian to smash home the opener.
Jose Maria Gimenez then passed up a good chance to level when he blasted over Koke's pull-back, and the away side capitalised when Matuidi charged onto Alex Sandro's cross and thumped his header past Jan Oblak.
The hosts got back into the game almost immediately when Savic headed home a towering Gimenez's perfect knockdown, and they were then pleading for a penalty with seven minutes left when referee Danny Makkelie waved away their appeals despite Matthijs de Ligt kicking the ball onto an unsuspecting Leonardo Bonucci's hand.
The home fans had to survive one last scare however, with an otherwise quiet Cristiano Ronaldo coming to within centimetres of an incredible winner when his mazy dribble ended with a low drive that beat Oblak and the far post.
Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino questioned his side's attitude after letting a two-goal lead slip to draw 2-2 away to Olympiakos. Despite a slow start, two goals in four first-half minutes from Harry Kane and Lucas Moura put last season's Champions League finalists on course for what would have been a vital win in Group B.
However, Olympiakos and are now unbeaten in their last 18 games in all competitions stretching back to February and showed why as Daniel Podence and Mathieu Valbuena struck either side of half-time to secure a well-deserved point.
A point away in front of a passionate crowd in Piraeus is not a disastrous start for Pochettino's men, who took just one point from their opening three group games last season before an improbable run to the final.
However, Pochettino is concerned that Spurs have won just two of their opening six games this season and face the might of Bayern Munich next in the Champions League.
Munich see of Red Star Robert Lewandowski scored as Bayern Munich eased to a 3-0 win over Red Star Belgrade, at the Allianz Arena on Wednesday. After Kingsley Coman gave Bayern a first-half lead, Lewandowski poked home ten minutes from time for his ninth goal in six matches before Thomas Mueller added a stunning late third.
Bayern visit last season's runners-up Tottenham, who blew a two-goal lead on Wednesday in a 2-2 draw at Olympiakos, in their second Group B game in two weeks' time.
The hosts were stuttering to a slender win before Lewandowski capitalised on two mistakes in the Red Star defence for a classic poacher's goal. They remain a force to be reckoned with and last lost a Champions League group game at home in December 2013.