UEFA Champions League halftime snapshot: Zlatan’s early hat trick; Real Madrid up on Juventus

1 Comment

On Tuesday, a Premier League club opened the day’s scoring after only five minutes. On Wednesday, it took less than two for Manchester United to get on the board, with a ball won high in the Real Sociedad end leading to an own goal, Wayne Rooney’s post-rattling shot bouncing in off Inigo Martínez. When Real Madrid opened their account against Juventus through Cristiano Ronaldo, the second day of round three had fully surpassed Tuesday’s start.

Five minutes later, the news got worst for Juventus, with former bianconeri Felipe Melo hammering home a Dany Nounkeu cross in Istanbul, giving Galatasaray a lead on Copenhagen.  After getting a result out of Turin, Gala’s positioned themselves as a real threat to Juve. The day’s early goals had the Turkish champions ready to assume second place in Group B.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic then opened the scoring in Brussels, and Stefan Kießling did the same in Leverkusen before Juventus, having assumed control of their match in Spain, scored a beautifully worked goal. Iker Casillas had pushed an athletic header from Paul Pogba off the line, but the ball rolled into the path of Fernando Llorente, giving the Spanish international an easy equalizer. Was Antonio Conte’s move to a 4-4-2 set to pay off?

Before we knew, Zlatan had scored again – two goals in six minutes. Franck Ribéry had converted from the spot in Munich, and Giorgio Chiellini had pulled down Sergio Ramos in the Juve area. Cristiano Ronaldo finished high into the Juventus net, rendering all the Old Lady’s good work useless.

Near the half-hour-mark of the day’s matches, Olympiacos had a key goal in Lisbon, Alejandro Dominguez sending a defender sliding before finishing into the far side of Artur Moraes’s goal. Within 30 minutes of kickoff, each of today’s matches (including the day’s opener in Moscow) had at least one goal.

Before the first halves were done, David Alaba had doubled Bayern Munich’s lead. Wesley Sneijder had done the same for Galatasaray, and Zlatan completes his hat-trick. Galatasaray finished the match’s first half festivities with a goal from Didier Drogba, the second Emmanuel Eboue had managed to set up.

It all continues the early theme of this year’s Champions League: Goals. We’ve already seen 17 today, and with these third day matches, pushing us toward a second 30-goal day of the tournament.

Here are all the halftime numbers, courtesy of Opta and WhoScored.com:

Group Home-Road Score Shots Shots
on Goal
A Manchester United-Real Sociedad 1-0 7-5 1-1 62-38
A Bayer Leverkusen-Shakhtar Donetsk 1-0 7-4 2-0 55-45
B Real Madrid-Juventus 2-1 4-10 2-4 52-48
B Galatasaray-Copenhagen 3-0 8-4 6-0 58-42
C Anderlecht-Paris Saint-Germain 0-3 5-5 2-3 26-74
C Benfica-Olympiacos 0-1 6-4 2-2 55-45
D CSKA Moscow-Manchester City (Final) 1-2 9-20 5-9 40-60
D Bayern Munich-Viktoria Plzen 2-0 21-1 12-0 78-22

LINEUPS: Tim Howard starts for USMNT against Costa Rica

SALVADOR, BRAZIL - JULY 01:  Tim Howard of the United States gestures during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Round of 16 match between Belgium and the United States at Arena Fonte Nova on July 1, 2014 in Salvador, Brazil.  (Photo by Jamie McDonald/Getty Images)
Getty Images
Leave a comment

The United States takes on Costa Rica in a friendly tonight at Red Bull Arena, as the USMNT must put the Mexico match behind them and focus on the upcoming World Cup qualifiers.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s USMNT coverage ]

The biggest inclusion in tonight’s starting XI is that of Tim Howard in goal, marking his return to the national side after taking a self-imposed sabbatical. It will be Howard’s first appearance for the USMNT since his legendary performance against Belgium in the 2014 World Cup.

Klinsmann has chosen to go with a 4-4-2 tonight, and Geoff Cameron remains the only starter in the back-line from the Mexico match. He’ll partner with Michael Orozco in the center of defense, with Brad Evans and Tim Ream on the outsides.

[ MORE: Fabian Johnson sent home from USMNT after fall-out with Klinsmann ]

In the midfield, Klinsmann has put some speed on the wings through the likes of DeAndre Yedlin and recent call-up Brek Shea. Danny Williams joins Jermaine Jones as the central midfielders.

Up top, Jozy Altidore will play alongside Gyasi Zardes, who returns to his more comfortable position as forward.

Cristiano Ronaldo wins record fourth European Golden Boot

MADRID, SPAIN - OCTOBER 13:  Real Madrid football player Cristiano Ronaldo poses with his four Golden Boot Awards as maximun goal scorer of European leagues at The Westin Palace Hotel on October 13, 2015 in Madrid, Spain.  (Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images)
Getty Images
Leave a comment

Cristiano Ronaldo has added another trophy to the collection, winning his fourth Golden Boot as Europe’s top scorer for the 2014-15 season.

The award accounts for goals in league play only, which means the Champions League and domestic tournaments are not included. In La Liga, Ronaldo scored 48 goals in 35 appearances.

[ MORE: 2015 MLS playoff scenarios ]

Ronaldo first won the award after the 2007-08 season with Manchester United, and has now added three more with Real Madrid in 2010-11, 2013-14, and 2014-15.

With his fourth win, Ronaldo moves ahead of Lionel Messi as the only player to win the award four times. Messi has won three, while eight players have won two.

Below is a post from Ronaldo’s Facebook page reflecting on the award:

What a special moment in my professional life!

Winning four Golden Boots is a privilege for me and I’ll keep challenging myself because I want to do better every time and I want to keep chasing for more records.

I have to thank everyone in Real Madrid that made this possible and we want to keep winning more titles and more trophies. Thank you everyone.

Ronaldo alone scored more goals in La Liga play last season than 14 clubs did, which shows how prolific his season was. The only player to score more than 48 league goals in a European season was Messi, who scored 50 in 2011-12.

[ EURO 2016: A look at the 20 teams that have qualified for France ]

While it was a successful year for Ronaldo personally, it was a very disappointing campaign for Real Madrid, who fired manager Carlo Ancelotti after finishing the season without a trophy.