UEFA Champions League: Ronaldo Winner as Barcelona’s Struggles Continue

Matchday two of the UEFA Champions League concluded on Wednesday 29th September with eight matches taking place across Europe. Tuesday 28th September’s thrilling FC Sheriff victory over Real Madrid and Lionel Messi’s goal in Paris were followed up with another exciting day of UCL competition. Another upset, plenty of penalty kicks, and a classic Champions League Ronaldo winner to spare Manchester United’s blushes.

Champions League: Ronaldo Winner Cheers Solskjaer but Barcelona Woes Continue

Ronaldo to the Rescue

It’s been written many times before: Cristiano Ronaldo scores match winner in stoppage time. For the first time in his second stint with Manchester United, Ronaldo stepped up with a last-ditch goal for the Red Devils to earn a 2-1 victory over Villarreal at Old Trafford. Despite the three points for United, the performance left a lot to be desired.

The first half was full of chances for Villarreal with David de Gea saving United’s skin on numerous occasions with jaw-dropping saves. The reigning Europa League winners got a deserved goal in the 53rd minute through Paco Alcacer and it seemed the Red Devils were on their way to a second consecutive Champions League loss.

Things turned around in the 60th minute when left-back Alex Telles scored a wonder goal with an outside-footed volley to equalize. The Red Devils pushed for a winner and finally got it from Cristiano Ronaldo. The Portuguese striker’s 136th Champions League goal got the three Red Devil points in his record-breaking 178th appearance in a UCL game.

Put this goal in the continually growing database of Ronaldo winners followed by the removal of his shirt. It was a Champions League Ronaldo winner that shows just how important he is going to be to United’s push for glory this season.

Barcelona Falter Again in 3-0 Loss to Benfica

Barcelona’s Champions League woes continued with a disastrous 3-0 loss to Benfica in Portugal. The red-hot Portuguese champions capitalised early with a goal in the 3rd minute by Darwin Nunez. Barca put together some good opportunities in the first half but lacked the finishing touch all game.

Benfica doubled their lead in the second half with a strong shot by Rafa Silva in the 69th minute. The momentous win was capped off with a Nunez penalty late on as Benfica begin the Champions League with a win and a draw. This start for Barcelona is historically bad with two straight group stage losses by a 3-0 scoreline. It’s the first time ever the club has had this dubious statistic.

Barca’s qualification chances are looking dead in the water with four games left to play and  their chances will be over if they can’t win both matches against Dynamo Kyiv. It also doesn’t help Barcelona that Benfica and Bayern have both started the UCL and 2021-22 seasons incredibly. Will we see a Champions League knockout stage without Barcelona?

Other UCL Results

The headline match in Torino ended well for Juventus as they defeated Chelsea 1-0 at Allianz Stadium. The lone goal was scored 11 seconds into the second half with a rifle by Federico Chiesa into the roof of the net. The other match in Group H had four times the goals with Zenit thrashing Malmo 4-0.

Bayern Munich had the most dominant win of the day with a 5-0 victory against Dynamo Kyiv of Ukraine. Robert Lewandowski scored a brace to continue his incredible home match scoring streak. Lewandowski has scored in every Bayern home match in 2021 with 27 goals in 15 games.

In Group F, Red Bull Salzburg beat the French champions Lille 2-1 with its greatest weapon: earning penalty kicks. Salzburg scored both of its goals from the spot and has been awarded five penalties in its first two Champions League matches. Wolfsburg was moments from a win but finished with a 1-1 draw to Sevilla with an 87th-minute penalty by Ivan Rakitic.

What’s Next

Champions League action will resume on October 19th shortly after the upcoming international break. Notable Tuesday fixtures include Ajax hosting Borussia Dortmund, Atletico welcoming old foes Liverpool, and Inter Milan getting its chance against unbeaten FC Sheriff.

On Wednesday the 20th October, the biggest clash will be in Portugal when Benfica take on Bayern Munich in Group E. Reigning champions Chelsea will be at home against Swedish side Malmo FF and Manchester United will play Atalanta in a Premier League versus Serie A battle at Old Trafford.

Main Image Credit Embed from Getty Images

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