The UEFA Champions League returned on Tuesday night with matches in 8 different centres across Europe including Group A which consists of Manchester United, FC Basel, CSKA Moscow and Benfica.
Manchester United welcomed FC Basel to England in their opening game of the 2017/2018 UCL campaign and it was a routine 3-0 win for the team from Manchester. The win was however marred by what seems to be an hamstring injury to the captain on the night, Paul Pogba. Pogba was replaced in the 19th minute by Marouane Fellaini who scored the opener 15 mins later with a header off an Ashley Young cross.
United was in control for the majority of the game and soon added a second goal in the 53rd min after Lukaku headed in from a Daley Blind cross. The third goal was then scored by substitute, Marcus Rashford who has a reputation for scoring debut goals in every competition he’s played in for club and country.
In the second match up of group A, Portuguese champions, Benfica entered the match as heavy favourites against a team which had lost 11 of their past 13 away fixtures in Europe’s elite competition. They were however stunned as the Russian side completed an inspiring comeback at Estadio Da Luz after initially going 1 goal down.
The Portuguese side failed to settle into the game early enough as the visitors had the closest sniff at goal in the opening minutes but failed to make it count. Benfica soon got into the game and turned up the heat but couldn’t find a breakthrough until the 50th min when Haris Seferovic drilled a well-placed low shot past Igor Akinfeev in goal – the goal ensures that the Russian goalkeeper’s record of failing to keep a clean sheet in 40 UCL group games continues.
Benfica almost doubled their lead after an Akinfeev blunder but the chance went begging; only for the Russian side to be awarded a penalty after Andre Almedia handled the ball in the box and Vitinho made no mistake from the spot to level the score. Timur Zhamaletdinov then pounced on a rebound to give the visitors the lead and complete an unlikely comeback within the space of 8 mins.
The win halts a run of 10 UCL matches without a win for CSKA Moscow and also puts them second behind Manchester United who are firmly in control of group A.