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

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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
Possession
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

Mexico star Marquez back at Atlas after US drug sanctions

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MEXICO CITY (AP) Mexican soccer star Rafael Marquez is back with his club more than a month after the U.S. Treasury Department named him on a sanctions list for alleged drug trafficking ties.

Atlas said Monday that the 38-year-old defender is practicing with the team again.

In August, Marquez was among 22 people sanctioned by the department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control. He was accused of acting as a frontman for the Raul Flores Hernandez drug trafficking organization.

Marquez has denied any wrongdoing and said he will work to clear his name. He is not known to face any criminal charges in the United States or Mexico.

Atlas says Marquez will continue his legal fight while at the team.

Marquez has played internationally with AS Monaco, Barcelona and the New York Red Bulls.

Wolfsburg hires Martin Schmidt after firing Andries Jonker

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WOLFSBURG, Germany (AP) Wolfsburg has hired Martin Schmidt to coach the Bundesliga side as a swift replacement for Andries Jonker.

[ MORE: PL Playback — Koeman, Everton facing significant pressure ]

Jonker was fired on Monday after less than seven months in charge, with Saturday’s 1-0 loss at Stuttgart leaving Wolfsburg with four points from its opening four league games of the new campaign.

The 50-year-old Schmidt has signed a contract through 2019 and he will take charge of Tuesday’s game against Werder Bremen.

The Swiss coach left Mainz by mutual consent in May after almost three years in charge. Mainz finished last season in 15th place in the Bundesliga, above Wolfsburg on goal difference. Wolfsburg only survived in the Bundesliga last season by a winning a playoff.

More AP German soccer coverage: http://www.apnews.com/tag/Bundesliga

Swapping cleats for gloves: Rio Ferdinand to become a boxer

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It wouldn’t be the first time a professional athlete has tried his hand at another sport, but this one is a bit surprising.

[ MORE: Leicester-Liverpool highlights Tuesday’s Carabao Cup action ]

The Telegraph is reporting that ex-Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand is poised to become a professional boxer and is expected to announce his decision on Tuesday.

The 38-year-old has been a pundit for BBC and BT Sport since retiring from soccer 2015, but the six-time Premier League winner appears ready to tackle a new venture.

Ferdinand will attempt to follow in the footsteps of former Sheffield United striker Curtis Woodhouse — who went on to become British light-welterweight champion.

Below is a video Ferdinand posted to his Instagram account on Monday which appears to show him practice dodging with a personal trainer.

Dodging Rain Drops…. Reaction Drill… Keep Moving!! 💧🎾 @chrisvarnavas

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Cavani, Neymar feud presents questions about PSG chemistry

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Paris Saint-Germain picked up its sixth consecutive win to start the Ligue 1 season on Sunday, but something else happened during the team’s 2-0 victory over Lyon that should be a show for concern.

[ MORE: Bayern keeper Neuer injuries foot, could miss months ]

In fact, two notable sequences occurred during the match that proved money cannot buy chemistry — or how the saying goes.

The issues on both occasions were between summer signing Neymar and Edinson Cavani — who has been with PSG since 2013.

First, a free kick situation arose where Cavani had appeared that he was going to take the set piece, until Brazilian defender Dani Alves stepped in and took the ball and proceeded to give it to his national and club teammate, Neymar.

The second occurence was even more embarrassing though, as Neymar and Cavani argued over who would take a penalty kick, which Cavani ultimately got his way before having his shot saved by goalkeeper Anthony Lopes.

Below is a video containing a piece of both instances.