October 4, 2012
This week sees the second round of group matches in both the Champions League and Europa League and a number of English Premier League teams were in action. All of them were hoping to get three points to get a better chance of qualifying for the knock-out stages of either competition.
Already joint top of Group B after victory over victory in Montpellier, Arsenal had a great chance to consolidate their position with a home game against Olympiakos of Greece. The Greek side already had a poor record in England, losing all ten of their previous matches, and Arsenal have a great record at home in European competition.
A poor first half came to life in the last five minutes as first Gervinho scored for Arsenal before Mitroglou equalized for the Greek team on the stroke of half-time. An improved performance in the second half saw goals from Podolski and Ramsey to cement a 3-1 victory and put Arsenal clear at the top of the group.
Arsenal have two tricky matches to come against Schalke 04, but a decent performance in those will secure qualification for the knock-out rounds with games to spare.
After losing the lead in their first match against Juventus, Chelsea went into the relatively easy game against Danish champions FC Nordsjaelland with high hopes of recording their first win in the group stages.
In an even first half, Chelsea took the lead through Mata but were lucky to survive a couple of scares as the home side hitting the post. An improved performance after the break saw goals from Luiz, Ramires and a second from Mata to give the champions a convincing victory.
The points put Chelsea on top of Group E on goal difference above Shaktar Donetsk, with both teams having four points. The next two matches between these two teams will determine the shape of the group – although Juventus will still hope to qualify for the next round of the Champions league.
Unlucky to lose to a last minute goal at Real Madrid last week, Manchester City desperately need a win against Borussia Dortmund to stay in contention in probably the most difficult group of all. However, the German champions are dangerous opposition and had hopes of taking the victory to secure their position in the next stage. With a 17 game unbeaten home record in Europe, City were confident going into the match even if performances have yet to match the high levels of last season.
The entertaining game was goalless throughout the first half, but the Germans took the lead early in the second half after a mistake by Jack Rodwell let Reus free to run into the area and score. City tried to come back into the game but this left holes in the defense and were lucky not to go further behind. With the game heading towards injury time, handball in the penalty area gave City a penalty that substitute Mario Balotelli slotted home to give both sides a share of the points.
With two games down, Manchester City are in third place in Group D and faced the prospect of fighting to qualify for the Europa League. They need to pick up points from the next two matches against Ajax and hope that Dortmund and Madrid drop points against each other.
Manchester United were already second of Group H after the first round of matches and had a great chance to extend the lead in Transylvania. CFR Cluj-Napoca have not had much success in European competition before, but did beat Braga in the first game to sit at the top of the table.
The home side took a surprise lead in the 14th minute as Kapetanos scored on the counter-attack. This was the sixth time that United have gone behind in a game already this season! United took time to settle into the match after that, but equalized just before half-time when a cross hit Van Persie’s shoulder and flew into the net. They took the lead early in the second half after Van Persie flicked in a pass from Wayne Rooney and held on to record their 100th victory in the Champions League – the same as Real Madrid and one more than Barcelona!
With two games gone and two seemingly easy games to come against Braga, United are in a great position to qualify for the knock-out stages for the first time in two seasons.
Already three of the English teams are in great positions in the Champions League and should now qualify for the knock-out stages. It will take something special for Manchester City to qualify, but they can still do it if they start winning matches.
Starting this round of matches on top of Group A after a high scoring victory in Switzerland and away at Norwich in the league, Liverpool had high hopes of getting more points and extending an unbeaten home record in Europe that stretches back to 2009.
The first half was all the home side and a Jonjo Shelvey header gave them a lead at half-time. This only lasted 32 seconds into the second half as Di Natale scored. Mid-way through the half, an own goal by Sebastian Coates and a Pasquale strike within two minutes, gave the Italians the lead. A great free-kick from Suarez pulled one back just two minutes later, but Liverpool were unable to score again.
This result leaves Liverpool in third place in Group A, but only one point behind Udinese and Anzhi Makhachkala. Two good results against the Russians in the next two games will give them a great chance of progress.
After drawing the first match, Newcastle were in joint second place in Group D with Maritimo and faced a difficult game against Bordeaux, who were unbeaten in 17 matches but have lost every game played in England failing to score a goal in four attempts.
In the end, this was an easy game for Newcastle who took the lead from Ameobi after 16 minutes. An own goal from Henrique put Newcastle 2-0 up at half-time and Cisse hit the third at the start of the second half. No further goals were scored, leaving Newcastle to run out convincing 3-0 winners and take top spot in the group.
After a goalless draw in the first group game, Tottenham were hoping to take all three points from this trip to Greece to enhance their chances of progressing in the competition.
Tottenham dominated the first half, but could only score one goal through a header from captain, Michael Dawson. For long periods of the game the London club were in total control, but could not find the finishing touch to score a second. However an equalizer from Toche with 13 minutes to go gave both teams a share of the points.
After two games Tottenham lie in third in Group J, but still have plenty of time to get enough points to continue and the next two games against Maribor are a great place to start.
With only Liverpool losing, all three English sides are in a great position to advance in the Europa League after two games. More hard games are to come, but all three sides can advance if they continue to play in the same manner.