Champions League Kicks Off the Group Stages


Henderson’s stunning goal secured all three points for Liverpool to start off the Champions League group stages. (Courtesy of Twitter)

The Champions League group stage kicked off last week with matchday one of six as all 32 teams played their first match of the campaign. The top two in all groups advance to the round of 16.

In group A, Manchester City started with a thrilling 6-3 win over RB Leipzig. As for the other match, PSG tied with Club Brugge 1-1. Lionel Messi whipped the ball into the top left corner but it bounced off the crossbar. An inch lower and it would have been an amazing goal that no goalkeeper could stop. Instead, PSG, tournament favorites, could not get that winning goal and had to settle with a draw and one point to start the group stage.

As for group B, Atletico Madrid had a goalless draw with Porto to start off their campaign in the “group of death.” The other match was Liverpool against AC Milan. Liverpool had the early lead with a goal in the ninth minute and were dominating the proceedings. They even had a penalty awarded, but Mo Salah was unable to convert it. However, in the span of less than five minutes to go before the end of the first half, Milan scored two goals to make it 2-1 heading into halftime. In the second half, Salah equalized in the 49th minute to make it 2-2. Then, in the 69th minute, Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson struck the ball off the half volley to slot it into the bottom left corner and seal the victory for the reds. 

As for group C, Ajax started their campaign in the best way with a 5-1 thrashing of Sporting CP. Sebastian Haller scored four goals, becoming the 14th person to ever do that in a Champions League game. As for the other match, a goal from Erling Haaland helped Borussia Dortmund beat Besiktas 2-1 and secure three points. 

Sheriff, who has never competed in the Champions League before, was in dreamland in group D with a 2-0 win over Shakhtar Donetsk. In the other match, Real Madrid defeated Inter Milan 1-0. Rodrygo scored the game’s lone goal in the 89th minute to give the 13-time Champions League-winners all three points in the match’s dying moments.

Benfica had a goalless draw with Dynamo Kiev for their champions league opener, but the main match in group E was between Bayern Munich and Barcelona. Last time these two titans faced each other, Bayern humiliated Barcelona 8-2 for their worst defeat ever in a European competition. Once again, Bayern was too much to handle for Barcelona, who lost 3-0 to the German champions with Robert Lewandoski scoring a brace as they cruised to victory.

For group F, Atalanta and Villareal both scored goals as they ended up drawing 2-2 and receiving one point each. The other match was between Manchester United and the Swedish champions Young Boys. United opened up the scoring with Cristiano Ronaldo in the 13th minute. However, they fell down to 10 men shortly after with Aaron Wan-Bissaka sent off due to a poor challenge. Young Boys equalized in the 66th minute. Then, in the last minute of extra time, United’s Jesse Lingard made a woeful error and passed it to the opposing team, who scored in the final seconds of the game to steal the points from United. Under their current coach, Ole Gunnar Solskjær, they have lost seven out of 11 matches in the Champions League, which is a worrying sign.

Both of group G’s matches ended up in draws, with Sevilla tying with Salzburg 1-1 as both goals came from penalties. As for the other match, Lille ended up with a goalless draw against Wolfsberg. This is the only group to have all four teams equal on points with one apiece.

As for group H, Juventus got off to a perfect start. They ended up with a 3-0 win over Malmo. The other match featured the current Champions League holder Chelsea. They started their title defense against Zenit, with striker Romelu Lukaku scoring the lone goal in the 69th minute to give the Blues’ trophy defense off to a good start.

You can take a look at the complete results here and the group tables here to see how the teams look after the first matchday of the Champions League. The next matchday will take place next week on Tuesday and Wednesday. All of the upcoming matches can be found here. The matches to watch on Tuesday will be titans Manchester City and PSG, Milan versus Atletico Madrid and Liverpool against Porto. As for Wednesday, Manchester United takes on Villareal in a rematch of last year’s Europa League final where Villareal took the spoils and Chelsea against Juventus. Matchday one is finally in the books, but the Champions League excitement is only getting started.