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

Report: Manchester United, Inter Milan keen on Perisic deal

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Manchester United wants Ivan Perisic, and both the player and his current club are all about it.

Perisic, 28, is ready to leave Inter Milan, and the Serie A mainstays are happy to accept $46 million for his services according to Sky Sports.

[ MORE: No China for Costa ]

Primarily a left winger, Perisic moved to Inter from Wolfsburg at the start of the 2015-16 season. He scored 10 goals and added nine assists in Serie A play this season, and has kept up his production pace since moving from the Bundesliga to Italy.

United needs stars and depth for its Champions League campaign, and Perisic would buttress an attack with Marcus Rashford, Henrikh Mkhitaryan amongst others. He was a difference maker for Croatia at EURO 2016, and can do the same at Old Trafford.

Celtic secures trophy treble, ends Scottish season unbeaten

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GLASGOW, Scotland (AP) Celtic completed a trophy treble in Scottish soccer and finished the domestic season undefeated after beating Aberdeen 2-1 in the Scottish Cup final thanks to an injury-time goal on Saturday.

Midfielder Tom Rogic scored from an acute angle in the second minute of stoppage time at Hampden Park to ensure Celtic added the cup to the Scottish Premiership and the Scottish League Cup.

[ MORE: No China for Costa ]

Brendan Rodgers became the third manager, after Jock Stein (1967, 1969) and Martin O’Neill (2001), to lead Celtic to a treble of domestic titles.

Celtic hasn’t lost any of its 47 games across in the league and both cups, and is the first team to go through the whole of a Scottish domestic season unbeaten.

No China for Costa: It’ll be Chelsea or Atletico Madrid

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Blues striker Diego Costa offered some insight into his future following Chelsea’s FA Cup Final loss to Arsenal on Saturday.

The combustible striker was subject to a head-turning bid from the Chinese Super League this winter, but is only looking at two European locations for his future.

Those are his current club, Chelsea, as well as former home at Atletico Madrid.

[ JPW: Poignant FA Cup Final reflects English mood ]

The 28-year-old Costa has kept his scoring pace level since arriving in the Premier League. He scored 64 goals in 134 matches for Atleti, and has notched 58 goals for Chelsea in 120 appearances.

Costa reportedly said, “No, no, no” when asked about China, as well as the following:

More Messi wizardry leads Barca to Copa del Rey title (video)

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Sometimes, a match recap needs just a couple keywords instead of paragraphs.

For example: Messi, Barcelona, Cup Final, the best.

The greatest player on Earth was at it again on Saturday, scoring a deft goal before assisting a Paco Alcacer offering as Barcelona won another Copa del Rey with a 3-1 win over Alaves on Saturday.

[ MORE: Pulisic, BVB win German Cup ]

It’s a third-straight Copa del Rey for the Blaugranas, their 29th crown in the tournament’s history. Barca has also lost 10 Copa finals, the last in 2014 against Real Madrid.

Here’s the goal:

And the pass: