Hopefully the pundits who often bash soccer for being a low-scoring, no-drama affair were watching the action unfold Tuesday. A record-shattering 40 goals were scored in eight matches, for an average of five per game, on a night to forget for goalkeepers and defenders.
Pep Guardiola's Bayern Munich was without the services of Javi Martinez, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Thiago, and only got 20 minutes out of Franck Ribery, but that didn't stop the team from making AS Roma look like a Serie B team with a 7-1 dismantling. Roma is no push-over either as the Italian side currently sits second behind Bayern in the so-called group of death with Manchester City and CSKA Moscow. Sure, Manchester City has been underwhelming (again!) in the Champions League group stages, but Roma proved they could contend with Europe's top sides by holding the Premier League champions to a 0-0 draw at the Ethiad Stadium.
Chelsea played a main role in the goal splash by putting six past Maribor at Stamford Bridge, but both Jose Mourinho and Guardiola's teams fell short to the top goalscorers of the night: Shakhtar Donetsk. The Ukrainians handed BATE Borisov the team's second defeat by six or more goals in three games with a difficult-to-watch 7-0 beatdown. After redeeming itself from a 6-0 loss to FC Porto with a 2-1 victory over Athletic Bilbao, BATE re-entered the vicious and seemingly unescapable cycle of doing more to help its opponent win. In professional wrestling, up-and-coming stars are often put up against jobbers —wrestlers who get completely squashed to make their opponents look good. BATE has already performed that role for Porto and now, the team has done the same for Shakhtar. Most of the goals came from horrible defensive lapses that cannot be committed at this level, leaving goalkeeper Sergey Chernik alone against one to three players at a time.
Shakhtar became the first team to score six goals in one half in the Champions League, and Luiz Adriano scored five to equal Lionel Messi's single-game record. But, Adriano made headlines for more than that.
Respect? What Respect?
UEFA prides itself on its Respect campaign, a social movement with the aim of uniting players and fans across gender, race, and religion. Adriano didn't see any of that Tuesday. The Brazilian forward said he was the target of racist chants by the BATE fans.
“I heard rude abuse...racist ones,” Adriano told Shakhtar's website. “Supporters behaved improperly and that is why I am disappointed and feel resentment. It was an ugly act from their side.”
Adriano surely deserved more on his record-breaking night.
Liverpool schooled by Madrid at Anfield
The Reds were always going to have issues dealing with the loss of lynchpin Luis Suarez to Barcelona, and with Mario Balotelli proving to be no replacement who's up to the task, the team continues to disappoint. Real Madrid easily brushed past the Premier League side with a 3-0 win, sentencing Liverpool to the club's worst loss at Anfield in European competitions. Brendan Rodgers remained faithful to his gung-ho approach where Liverpool tries to kill off the game in the opening 20 minutes by sending wave after wave of attackers forward in hopes of finding a handful of goals.
That's probably not the best strategy against arguably the best counterattacking side in the tournament, featuring arguably the world's best player.
Cristiano Ronaldo opened scoring by flicking on a chip pass from James Rodriguez into the back of Simon Mignolet's goal. That's 20 goals in 13 matches for the Ballon D'or winner who's averaging a mind-blowing 1.5 goals per game this season. A double from Karim Benzema shortly after sealed the deal for Los Blancos before the referee blew his whistle for the end of the first-half. Madrid comfortably controlled the match in the second-half, allowing Carlo Ancelotti to rest key players like Ronaldo for this weekend's La Liga clash with Barcelona.
Most teams would be trying to calculate how many points they'd need to advance after having suffered two losses in their opening three games, but Liverpool should still find a way to advance from Group B. Madrid have all but punched their ticket to the next round with nine points from three games, but Liverpool, Basel, and Ludogorets sit even on three points. Rodgers and company would only have to earn victories against these two sides to see themselves through.
Worst penalty call in Champions League history
Schalke and Sporting Lisbon treated fans to one of the most entertaining and competitive games in a matchday filled with thrillers. Sporting earned an early lead, lost it, and then proceeded to lose Islam Slimani to injury and Mauricio to a red card. Down 3-1 with a man less, the Portuguese side fought back and equalized with two goals from Adrien Silva.
That was all put to waste when a last-gasp penalty was awarded to Schalke after Jonathan Silva touched the ball with... his nose.
Sporting lost the match and remain in the basement of Group G, having only earned one point in three games.
Karaiskakis Stadium: Nightmare stop for any away side
If Massimiliano Allegri had phoned Diego Simeone before heading to the Karaiskakis Stadium, the Atletico Madrid coach could have told him to not underestimate Olympiacos at home — or more likely, give a raging earful hanging up. Olympiacos beat Simeone's Atletico 3-2 on Group A's first matchday, and have now earned another three points with a 1-0 victory over Juventus. The Greek side is an average team at best away from home. If that wasn't evident before, it was after a 2-0 loss to minnows Malmo. But at home, this is one team you do not want to play against.
Fuelled by their die-hard, and manic fans, Olympiacos plays like a top-16 European team at home. It's no surprise to see the stands lit on fire during important matches and the capacity 33,000 crowd ends up sounding more like 100,000. The club has only lost three games at home in the Greek Super League since 2011. Olympiacos also handed Manchester United a 2-0 loss at Karaiskakis Stadium in 2013 and Arsenal a 2-1 loss one year earlier in the group stage.
They're nothing spectacular away from home, but teams should enter Greece with all caution.