Tuesday’s eight UEFA Champions League goals produced 30 goals. Through Wednesday’s first halves, the equivalent of four games played, the day’s eight combatants have combined for three goals. And one came via penalty kick.
That was courtesy of Lionel Messi, whose turn in the middle of Ajax’s penalty area prompted Niklas Moisander to pull him down. Moments later, Kenneth Vermeer was pulling the ball out of his own net, Barcelona having claimed a 1-0 lead at the Nou Camp.
The day’s second goal came in Naples, where a cross from the left from Juan Camilo Zuniga found the head of Gonzalo Higuaín. The Argentine’s header found the lower-right corner to put Napoli up 1-0 on Borussia Dortmund.
Atlético became the third to breakthrough, undoing Luciano Spalletti’s move to a three-man defense by converting a 40th minute corner. Miranda’s near post header from Koke’s service gave Diego Simeone’s team the lead.
Here’s how all games look, by the numbers, at halftime.
||Atlético Madrid-Zenit St. Petersburg
Italy took a 1-0 lead over Azerbaijan through the in-form Eder in the 11th minute, but the true leg-work (see what I did there) came from bite-sized midfielder Marco Verratti.
The PSG playmaker pinged a beautiful long ball over the top of the Azerbaijan defense that fell right at the feet of Eder, who let the ball settle itself and touched home confidently past Kamran Arhayev for a 1-0 lead.
The goal is the second of Eder’s national career in just five caps, having scored on debut against Bulgaria back in March. He has six goals in seven matches for Sampdoria so far this Serie A season.
Italy needs three points in this match to ensure qualification to Euro 2016. A win would guarantee them a place in the field, while anything less would mean there is work to do in the final match on Tuesday against Norway.
Later in the match, Stephan El Shaarawy gave Italy a 2-1 lead just before halftime, his second career international goal and his first since September of 2012 which came in his third career start.
As soon as Brendan Rodgers was dismissed by Liverpool on Sunday, Jurgen Klopp’s name was tossed around as the likely successor to the then-vacant Liverpool managerial position.
However, according to Klopp’s representatve Marc Kosicke, Liverpool did not make contact with the German until after Rodgers had been officially let go.
“The first call from Liverpool came after the dismissal as coach of Rodgers,” Kosicke told Bild. “Before Liverpool there were naturally quite a few inquiries. But Jurgen always asked me not to take it any further.”
Club management was less committal than Klopp’s rep, but did say they had their eye on the German for some time. “We have learned to keep certain matters confidential. We had a meeting recently with Jurgen that he has talked about and I don’t want to talk too much about these conversations. But we have thought about him for a long time and everyone who knows football knows he is an outstanding manager.”
It’s relatively hard to believe Liverpool would have canned Rodgers without knowing for sure that a top-level target such as Klopp or Carlo Ancelotti were on board to replace him. It also would mean discussions of the contract terms and logistics would have moved at lightning speed, with just four days between the Rodgers dismissal and Klopp’s official unveiling.