Celtic give mighty Barca a scare as Chelsea are thumped

Celtic give mighty Barca a scare as Chelsea are thumped

Celtic give mighty Barca a scare as Chelsea are thumped

To go to the cauldron that is Camp Nou and give Spanish giants Barcelona a mighty scare deserves a standing ovation. To lose to the Catalans in injury time after spirited defending is gutting. Yet that was the state of affairs for Victor Wanyama and his Celtic teammates in last night’s 2-1 defeat. It must have been heartbreaking not coming out with a point that their defending least deserved.

The Hoops had taken the lead via a Giorgios Samaras header that went off the back of Javier Mascherano, to stun everyone in Catalunya and silence the largest soccer stadium in Europe. Though the Blaugrana were not at the fluent best, the Bhoys needed their keeper, Fraser Forster, to be on point. He was outstanding, making a series of saves in the second half.

But that is football, that’s the difference between a good side and a great side. A great side has a knack of getting goals when you think there’s no time to do so. Andres Iniesta scored in the last minute of the first half, Jordi Alba finished off the Scottish club during the second half’s injury time, to cap a pulsating game and leave Tito Vilanova’s men on the brink of qualification.

Wanyama was perfect in executing his defensive role.He even came close to scoring from a corner and endured pains to finish the game after picking a knock.

Chelsea saw Blues

Chelsea. They are causing havoc in the English Premier League, but continental matters are proving a different ball game altogether. Having lost a two-goal lead to draw level with Juventus during the last Champions League match at Stamford Bridge, they lost 2-1 to Ukrainian side Shahktar Donetsk. And, trust me, they should have lost by more were it not for their incredible keeper.

Petr Cech showed he is to the Blues what Joe Hart is to Man City. His palms were warmed frequently, as he constantly spared the blushes from a team that was lacking in imagination. However, there was nothing he could do to prevent Brazilian duo of Fernandinho and Alex Texeira from ruffling the net. It was another Brazilian, in Oscar, who scored a consolation goal, but there would be no comeback.

The result doesn’t augur well for the Roman Abramovich’s side, and to some extent the future of manager Roberto Di Matteo. The London side was expected to be the team leading the group, but now the EPL table toppers find themselves three points adrift the Ukrainians, with a second spot battle to come against Juventus. In two weeks’ time, they should try and strangle the life out of Shakhtar, otherwise, the Miners may become the first team to progress from Group E.

No bragging rights

Comebacks are what describe Man United. They are the kings of them, what with yet another sequel to their ever increasing list. Seven times now they’ve come from behind to dispatch their would-be slayers. Having gone down 2-0 to SC Braga’s Alan’s goals in the first 20 minutes, the Red Devils showed why discounting them is usually done at one’s own peril. Javier Hernandez’s brace, sandwiching a Johnny Evans’ bundled effort, were enough to restore calm to the panicked Old Trafford faithful.

Their forward play deserved more than it got. But if the attacking intent was evident, the defensive nous from United was missing in action. The Archbishops were not swayed by the aura of the Theatre of Dreams, and they showed it. From as early as the second minute, they had silenced the Mancunians and their vocal fans. The Portuguese side was more assured on the ball than many expected, and 18 minutes later, they had sliced the United rearguard to take a commanding lead.

Maybe it was Sir Alex’s preference to a diamond formation that had made the red behemoth to be there for the taking, maybe it was fielding a relatively weakened side, or maybe it was the defense that had Michael Carrick playing stopper. But when Fergie reverted to his tried and tested 4-4-2 formation, only one team looked most likely to come out as the victor. Yet again, the defense has to be worked on, if the Bridge will not come falling on Fergie’s charges on Sunday.

Bayern Munich 1-0  Lille

Elsewhere, Bayern Munich won 1-0 at Lille but are third in their group, while Juventus are just shooting themselves in the foot. The Old Lady travelled to Denmark, where they were expected to turn minnows FC Nordsjaelland into a sumptuous dish. But no, the men from Turin were humbled in their 1-1 draw at the hands of the Danish champions. If the Italian giants haven’t received the memo, their current inability to win games, what with three draws now, is what makes a team take a detour to Thursday Night Football.

Spartak Moscow handed visiting Benfica a 2-1 defeat, while Valencia did to BATE Borisov what the Bavarians couldn’t do; handing the men from Belarus a 3-0 thumping in their own Dynamo Minsk Stadium via a Roberto Soldado hatrick. Galatasaray are in disarray, what with drawing 1-1 with Romanian side CFR Cluj.

 So what does that mean at the halfway mark? Barcelona and United have one foot in the second phase, Valencia, BATE Borisov and Bayern are all tied at six points apiece (making the battles ahead all more sweeter), while Chelsea and Juventus may find themselves battling to join Shakhtar Donetsk in the next phase, unless their results improve dramatically.

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