Winners, losers from opening day of Champions League

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As we sort through today’s results (and try to get caught up on eight matches), let’s take a quick inventory of winners and losers from the first day of UEFA Champions League action:

Winners

U.S. television viewers – By now, FOX Soccer’s motive for choosing its lead game is pretty clear. They want ratings, and usually that means picking the game featuring the English team with the highest profile. Rarely does that lead to viewers actually seeing the best game, but today, it all came together. Real Madrid and Manchester City scored five times over the last 23 minutes in Madrid, including a Cristiano Ronaldo game winner in the 90th minute – exactly the type of action every broadcaster wants.

The State of Qatar – This was the night Qatar Investment Authority wanted when it bought Paris Saint-Germain – Champions League soccer, under the lights, at the Parc de Princes. And their team didn’t disappoint. PSG’s two high-priced imports from Milan (Zlatan Ibrahimovic and – on his debut – Thiago Silva) scored within 30 minutes as the Parisians rolled to a 4-1 win over Dynamo Kyiv.

Vitor Periera, head coach, Porto – Periera nearly lost his job last year when the Portuguese champions failed to advance out of an easy group. Perhaps Periera learns from his Champions League debut, because today Porto took care of business. The second-year boss led the former champions to a 2-0 victory in Zagreb, snapping Dinamo’s 33-match unbeaten run.

Isco, midfielder, Málaga – The 20-year-old has recently been linked with a move to Borussia Dortmund. If today was a try out, he got the part. Two goals (his first three minutes in) helped Málaga to a successful Champions League debut, an easy 3-0 win over Russian champions Zenit.

Losers

Milan coach Max Allegri – Milan has gone 270 minutes without scoring at home this season after today’s 0-0 draw with Belgian champions Anderlecht. Many are giving the coach a pass, given he lost his best attacker (Ibrahimovic) this summer. But when you look at Allegri’s team, there’s almost no excuse for not getting something at the San Siro against Sampdoria, Bologna, or Anderlecht. Expect the rumblings about Allegri’s job to intensify.

Zenit’s checkbook – At the beginning of September, the Russian champions spent $104 million to lure Alex Witsel and Hulk from Portugal. Since, the team has gone 1-1-1, fallen to fourth in the Russian Premier League, and opened this season’s Champions League with a thud in Andalusia. It looks like Zenit tried to fix something that wasn’t broken.

Borussia Dortmund – How can a team that won 1-0 be a loser? Technically, they’re not, and 87th minute winners (this one from Robert Lewandowski) have a way of sending a team off the field triumphant. But then there’s context. BVB fell flat in last year’s Champions League and have a difficult group this year (with Real Madrid and Manchester City). Facing an Ajax team that’s clearly the fourth of four in Group D, Dortmund had a chance to not only get three points but also salve doubts they can compete with the group’s big spenders. So much for that idea.

UEFA discipline – Arsene Wenger began his three-match suspension as Arsenal visited Montpellier. The Gunners still won, 2-1. Even if Arsenal had lost, the touchline ban would have probably been insignificant. It’s not like the manager isn’t pulling the strings, regardless. The loss, however, gives Wenger a way to thumb his nose at UEFA as he serves his third suspension within a year. It might not be logical to couple today’s result with the suspension, but in sports, scoreboard has the final say.

Mourinho: League Cup “important to” Man Utd, but asks if it’s necessary?

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Marcus Rashford‘s heroics helped Manchester United cruise past visiting Burton Albion, 4-1, in a League Cup third round match at Old Trafford on Wednesday.

Mourinho said the League Cup is important to Manchester United because it’s an official tournament, and United wants to win everything it can as a club.

[ WATCH: Rashford’s sensational second ]

Yet he stopped short of endorsing the Cup’s long-term future, a tournament which his side won last season but is perhaps the major obstacle towards the Premier League joining other European leagues with winter breaks. From ManUtd.com:

“If the competition is an official competition then it is important for Manchester United and for me as a manager. If you ask me could the English football survive or even be better without this competition? Maybe, maybe we would be fresher for European competition for example. But we have this competition, we have to respect the sponsors, we have to respect the opponents and a lot of us are trying to do our best.”

[ MORE: Bundesliga wrap | La Liga | Serie A ]

United drew a trip to Swansea for the fourth round, and is certainly among the favorites to win the whole thing with their solid depth (See their Starting XI below).

Would you miss the League Cup if it went away?

Serie A: Mertens scores unreal goal; Napoli, Milan, Juve win (video)

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It’s early but signs of an actual title race in Italy are truly delightful.

Juventus and Napoli remain perfect, with the latter above the former in the Serie A table this early season following Wednesday wins.

[ MORE: Bundesliga wrap | La Liga | League Cup ]

Roma and Atalanta posted blowout wins, while AC Milan won a day after their Milanese rivals Inter needed a 77th minute penalty to draw at Bologna.

Lazio 1-4 Napoli

There were five goals in this one, but the only one you need to witness comes on this unreal shot from an odd angle by the world’s top under-appreciated scorer: Dries Mertens.

Juventus 1-0 Fiorentina

Mario Mandzukic scored the lone goal as The Old Lady slipped further behind Napoli in goal difference.

AC Milan 2-0 SPAL

I Rossoneri scored on a penalty in each half, with new boys Ricardo Rodriguez and Franck Kessie converting the chances.

Benevento 0-4 Roma

Edin Dzeko buried a pair of goals and the hosts gifted i Lupi a pair of own goals.

Elsewhere
Bologna 1-1 Inter Milan — Tuesday
Cagliari 0-1 Sassuolo
Genoa 1-1 Chievo
Verona 0-0 Sampdoria
Udinese 2-3 Torino

STANDINGS

Team GP W D L GF GA GD Home Away PTS
 Napoli 5 5 0 0 19 3 16 2-0-0 3-0-0 15
 Juventus 5 5 0 0 14 3 11 3-0-0 2-0-0 15
 Inter Milan 5 4 1 0 11 2 9 2-0-0 2-1-0 13
 AC Milan 5 4 0 1 10 6 4 3-0-0 1-0-1 12
 Torino 5 3 2 0 10 5 5 1-1-0 2-1-0 11
 Lazio 5 3 1 1 10 8 2 1-1-1 2-0-0 10
 Roma 4 3 0 1 9 3 6 1-0-1 2-0-0 9
 Sampdoria 4 2 2 0 6 4 2 1-0-0 1-2-0 8
 Atalanta 5 2 1 2 9 7 2 2-0-1 0-1-1 7
 Fiorentina 5 2 0 3 8 7 1 1-0-1 1-0-2 6
 Cagliari 5 2 0 3 4 6 -2 1-0-1 1-0-2 6
 Chievo 5 1 2 2 5 8 -3 0-1-1 1-1-1 5
 Bologna 5 1 2 2 4 7 -3 0-2-1 1-0-1 5
 SPAL 5 1 1 3 3 8 -5 1-0-1 0-1-2 4
 Sassuolo 5 1 1 3 3 8 -5 0-1-1 1-0-2 4
 Udinese 5 1 0 4 7 10 -3 1-0-2 0-0-2 3
 Genoa 5 0 2 3 5 9 -4 0-1-2 0-1-1 2
 Verona 5 0 2 3 1 11 -10 0-1-2 0-1-1 2
 Crotone 5 0 1 4 1 11 -10 0-1-2 0-0-2 1
 Benevento 5 0 0 5 1 14 -13 0-0-3 0-0-2 0

History denied! Real Madrid loses, fails in bid to beat Pele-led record (video)

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Real Madrid did everything but score, and now find themselves denied a chance at unparalleled history and in a relatively deep early hole in La Liga’s table.

A stoppage time loss to visiting Real Betis ended the club’s 73-match run of matches with a goal, and it came on the day it could’ve passed Pele’s Santos for sole possession of the longest scoring streak in history.

[ MORE: Pulisic scores 10th BVB goal ]

Perhaps more important, Madrid now sits seven points back of first place Barcelona. Their eight points leave them sixth.

Real Madrid 0-1 Real Betis

The hosts looked so good, and so fluid… and provided any number of finishes which would’ve been goals on another day. Unfortunately for them, the only goal came from Paraguay’s Antonio Sanabria in the fourth minute of second half stoppage time.

That’s because Real Betis goalkeeper Antonio Adan was sensational, including a stunning stop on Gareth Bale‘s backheeled volley in the final quarter hour.

It could’ve gone worse for Madrid, as Mexico’s Andres Guardado had an assist called back for offside.

Before that, there was this from one of the best in history:

Athletic Bilbao 1-2 Atletico Madrid

Angel Correa and Yannick Carrasco helped the visitors go second in La Liga, as ex-Atleti midfielder Raul Garcia provided Athletic’s only goal deep into stoppage time.

Elsewhere
Leganes 0-0 Girona
Deportivo de la Coruna 1-0 Alaves
Sevilla 1-0 Las Palmas

League Cup draw: Spurs host Hammers; Everton off to Chelsea

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Sixteen teams are five wins from a berth in the Europa League following the fourth round draw for the League Cup.

Eleven of the 16 belong to the Premier League, leaving Leeds United, Wolverhampton Wanderers, Norwich City, Bristol City, and Middlesbrough to dream of dream runs to Wembley Stadium.

[ MORE: Pulisic scores 10th BVB goal ]

There are only a trio of all-Premier League ties in the bunch, including a high-profile London clash between Spurs and West Ham.

Chelsea will host Everton, while Manchester United heads to Wales for a date with Swansea City.

All-in-all, we could have quarterfinals without a single Cinderella story.

Full draw
Tottenham Hotspur vs. West Ham United
Bristol City vs. Crystal Palace
Arsenal vs. Norwich City
Chelsea vs. Everton
Swansea City vs. Manchester United
Manchester City vs. Wolverhampton Wanderers
Bournemouth vs. Middlesbrough
Leicester City vs. Leeds United