The much anticipated UEFA Champions League returned on Tuesday night and did so with a bang. The opening night had it all from upsets, VAR controversy to history being made. It was certainly not a disappointing opening night for football fans.
Champions Stumble At First Hurdle
The defending champions Liverpool could not have had a more catastrophic start to their title defence after going down to Napoli 2 – 0 in their opening group game. Belgian forward Dries Mertens put Napoli ahead after a controversial decision was made by the referee who judged Andy Robertson to have brought Jose Callejon down. Reds manager Jurgen Klopp certainly was not content with the decision and felt that VAR had not done what it is intended for. Former Tottenham forward Fernando Llorente then surprisingly doubled Napoli’s lead from a mistake made by Virgil Van Djik.
Poor Away Record
Liverpool are the first winners of the Champions League to have lost their opening group game since AC Milan in 1994. This further extends Liverpool’s poor away record from last season as they lost all three of their away group games. Man of the Match Kalidou Koulibaly was instrumental in keeping Liverpool from scoring as he prevented the strong Reds attack from having any clear cut chances.
Teenage Sensation Haaland
The teenager on everyone’s lips is Erling Braut Haaland. Many have been saying that this is the emergence of European football’s latest superstar centre-forward. It was the Norwegian’s Champions League debut and wow what a debut it was. He wasted no time announcing himself to the world in epic fashion with a brilliant first-half hattrick. This was already his third hattrick of the season which has seen him score 17 goals in just nine appearances.
One Of The Best
He helped his side RB Salzburg to a romping 6-2 victory over Genk who were extremely poor on the night. But that does not take away from the teenage sensation; who has already managed to score 9 goals in a single game for his country in the Under-20 World Cup. With his current form, he seems pretty impossible to stop and if he keeps this up; he could possibly become one of the best strikers in the world.
Chelsea Rue Their Chances
Chelsea made their long-awaited return to the Champions League last night, but it never quite went to plan. The night quickly turned into one of frustration for Frank Lampard’s men as Valencia took full advantage of a struggling Chelsea defence. Rodrigo put the away side ahead after 74 minutes which proved to be the winner.
It likely could’ve not been the winner if it hadn’t been for a late Ross Barkley penalty miss. The midfielder stepped up full of confidence telling those on his side that his got it but smashed his shot against the bar. That was just the cherry on the cake to a night where Chelsea should’ve won in all fairness. Willian had countless opportunities that he simply failed to put away.
English Clubs Need To Improve
Liverpool and Chelsea will need to improve drastically if they want to go anywhere in this year’s edition of the Champions League. Haaland without a doubt has a bright future ahead as he is looking like a prolific goal scorer and there’s sure to be many more goals this season from the youngster.