Champions League football once again made a glorious return and it was last season’s victors, Real Madrid, who provided the biggest win of match day 1, defeating Basel 5-1. Elsewhere, Liverpool made a triumphant return to Europe’s premier club competition after years dwelling in the abyss, managing to scrape through with a 2-1 victory over Ludogrets, their first match in five or so years.
Speaking of firsts, Monaco also played their first match in the Champions League since their previous appearance way back in the 2005/06 edition of the competition, beating Bayer Leverkusen 1-0.
The same cannot be said for Arsenal, though, whose lackluster start to the season continued overnight with a 2-0 loss to Borussia Dortmund. In truth, things could’ve been worse. Last year’s runners-up Atletico Madrid also failed to fire, slumping to a 3-2 loss to Olympiakos.
Here, we round up all the action from matchday 1:
Benfica 0-2 Zenit
In his first return to the Estadio de Luz since departing for Zenit, Axel Witzel made a triumphant return to Portugal, leading the visitors to a comfortable win over Benfica.
Hulk helped his side to an early lead after pulling off a chip in the fifth minute of play before Witsel headed home in the 22nd minute to seal the victory after goalkeeper Artur was given the marching orders for bringing down a player in the box. The win means Zenit are on an 11 game winning streak in all competition whilst Benfica suffered their first loss of season.
Borussia Dortmund 2-0 Arsenal
For the third time in four seasons, Dortmund found themselves facing Arsenal yet again, and it was the Germans who went one up on their English rivals, cruising to a 2-0 win over the Gunners. Goals either side of half-time courtesy of Ciro Immobile and Aubameyang lifted Jurgen Klopp’s men to the all-important victory. For Immobile, his strike just before the stroke of half-time marked his first goal for Dortmund since joining from Torino earlier this summer while Aubameyang scored three minutes after the restart with a solo effort to seal the victory.
Midfielder Sebastian Kehl’s words post-match were telling: “Arsenal never really offered much. I was very confident after we got the first goal and I knew we’d be going for it again in the second half. We could easily have won three or four-nil,” Kehl told the official Uefa website.
Galatasaray 1-1 Anderlecht
Galatasaray left it late to equalise to snatch a point in their opening fixture against Anderlecht at the Turk Telekom Arena. Burak Yilmaz netted in stoppage time to level the scores Denis Praet gave the Belgians the lead in the 52nd minute. The result is unfortunate for the away side who, for much of the match, looked the more impressive side.
Juventus 2-0 Malmo FF
A second half brace from Carlos Tevez saw Juventus prevail over Malmo in their opening match of the competition. Goals in the 59th and 90th minutes ensured that a 14-match losing run at Juventus Stadium came to an end, with their campaign off to a flyer following previous seasons in which they’ve failed to impress despite domestic dominance.
Tevez’s performance was an ideal reflection of the team’s as a whole, dominating the match from start to finish. The margin could’ve been bigger had Fernando Llorente not been disallowed for off-side.
Liverpool 2-1 Ludogorets
A late Steven Gerard penalty ensured that Liverpool got off to a perfect start to their European campaign after five years in exile. The Liverpool captain successfully sent debutant custodian Milan Borjan the wrong way, saving The Red from sharing the spoils after Dani Abalo slotted home just before the 90 minute mark after Mario Balotelli opened the scoring earlier on.
Monaco 1-0 Bayer Leverkusen
Following a lacklustre start to the season, Monaco got their season back on track with a one-nil win over Bayer Leverkusen. The summer sales of Radamel Falcao and James Rodriguez have seemingly adversely affected the fortunes of the Principality club with several fans asking for a refund for their memberships. Yet, Moutinho’s 61st minute strike will offer the club renewed hope despite an unconvincing where chances were few and far between.
Olympiakos 3-2 Atletico
Runners-up Atletico Madrid suffered a shock loss after losing 3-2 in their opening group fixture on Tuesday. And it seems as if Diego Simeone’s ban has adversely affected the side, and will be lamenting their luck after dominating for much of the match. Goals from Masuaku, Affelay and Mitroglou in the 13th, 31st and the 73rd minutes respected ensured that the Greek champions did enough to stun the Spanish champions whilst Antoine Griezmann 86th minute goal, in retrospect, proved to be nothing more than consolation.
Real Madrid 5-1 Basel
Real Madrid have seemingly put their poor form behind them, thrashing 5-1 at home in their opening encounter. The attacking quartet of Bale, Benzema, Ronaldo and Rodriguez in conjunction with an Suchy own goal ensured that Real’s title defence got off to the perfect start. Meanwhile Basel could only muster a solitary goal thanks to Gonzalez in a rout which the Swiss will be eager to forget.
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