Welcome to the first-ever Champions League Hits and Misses. The concept is pretty simple. Every Champions League Matchday, I’ll sit down and figure out all the hits and misses for that round of games. Simple enough, right? Good. Let’s get to it then.
Hit: Messi scores a wonder goal that’s probably illegal in most countries
That was just obscene. Seriously, if that had been the kind of thing you bought off of the top shelf of your local shop, then it would’ve been handed to you in a brown paper bag, while the store assistant judged you as an unfit human being. It appears that rumors of Lionel Messi’s demise have been greatly exaggerated. It might have taken him time to settle into a league that most people consider full of farmers, but it was only a matter of time before the Little Magician found his feet. After all, here is a man who’s lived nearly all his life in Spain, suddenly being told by the club he brought years of success and glory too, that he was about as wanted as clap in a nunnery. Sorry fella, off you go. So yes, a small adjustment period was only to be expected, but on this showing, PSG might be able to finally grab the elusive Champions League title that their owners so desperately desire. If you haven’t seen this goal, then get ye to YouTube and check out BT Sport’s coverage of the Champions League. It was so sexy that they could’ve put it in a dress and called it Scarlett Johansson.
Miss: Manchester City forgets how to shoot
To be fair, I should put this as a hit and say that Gianluigi Donnarumma had a blinder of a match, as he did. But the problem with that is that Man City could’ve played for three days and they still wouldn’t have found the back of the net. Their finishing was off – after all, hitting the bar from 4 yards out is actually more difficult than scoring – and you could just tell from their first spurned chance that it wasn’t going to be their night. As a Liverpool fan myself, I’m hoping that they’ve not got this out of their system yet and that every chance that falls to a City player on Sunday will end up in row Z, but I doubt that very much.
Hit: FC Sheriff Tiraspol beat Real Madrid
Unless you’re an avid follower of Moldovan football – or you have a hankering for Football Manager – then this is probably the first time you’ve ever heard of FC Sheriff Tiraspol. It is, after all, their first journey in the Champions League and everybody had them down as whipping boys, yet FC Sheriff Tiraspol pulled off not just the shock of the night, but the shock of the entire season by beating the mighty Real Madrid, in their own backyard. FC Sheriff Tiraspol took a surprise lead and then defended as if their lives – and the lives of their families – depended upon it. Which they very well might have done. I’m not that familiar with the Moldovian Mafia. Regardless, after Junior Vinicius finally won a penalty thanks to his immense ability to dive in a way that would put Tom Daley to shame, it seemed to be a forgone conclusion that Madrid would go on and win the game. Yet this wasn’t to be the case as in the 88th minute, Sébastien Thill hit a screamer that saw FC Sheriff Tiraspol pick up all three points. He will never hit a shot that sweetly again and FC Sheriff Tiraspol may very well return to being slapped around like Norwich City, but for one glorious evening they were the Kings of Madrid.
Miss: Franck Kessie lets his team down
If you’re winning 1-0 in a game where most people expect you to – maybe – scrape a win or at least hold out for a draw, the last thing you need to do is lunge into a challenge when you’re already on a yellow and get your dumbass sent off. Yet, this is exactly what Franck Kessie did against Atlético Madrid while AC Milan were not just winning, but in control. I’m sorry, I’ve seen people on the internet say it was never a second yellow but he should never have given the ref a chance to send him off in the first place. You’re winning. Cool your jets, get to half time, and push on from there. Don’t go for a ball that you’ve no real chance of winning and then look horrified that the man in the middle has brandished another card at you. Idiot.
Hit: Liverpool batter Porto
5-1. And not just 5-1, but 5-1 at Porto’s home. That’s gotta hurt. From kick-oof it was obvious there was a gulf in class between the two teams and if it hadn’t been for Porto’s goalkeeper, Diogo Costa, it could’ve easily been double figures. This was a brutal display from Liverpool and – having pulled off another remarkable comeback win against AC Milan in the opening round of fixtures – sees them in a good position to mount a serious challenge on this year’s Champions League.
Miss: Porto’s goalkeeper, Diogo Costa, forgets how to goalkeeper
Yeah…I know. Having only just praised him for keeping the score to a respectable 5-1, it might seem a little harsh to criticize Diogo Costa’s performance, but my god, he was terrible at times. He was at fault for the first goal, pushing the ball back into play when he could’ve easily kept hold of it, and the fact he went walkabout for Liverpool’s fourth should be a sackable offense. I’ve never seen such a Jekyll and Hyde performance from any shot-stopper in my 40 plus years of watching the beautiful game, and I grew up when Bruce ‘Anything For A Bung’ Grobbelaar was between the sticks.
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