Here’s what happened on Wednesday in the UEFA Champions League, in case you missed it…
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Ajax 3, Bayern Munich 3 || Benfica 1, AEK Athens 0 || Manchester City 2, Hoffenheim 1 || Shakhtar Donetsk 1, Olympique Lyon 1 || Real Madrid 0, CSKA Moscow 3 || Viktoria Plzen 2, AS Roma 1 || Valencia 2, Manchester United 1 || Young Boys 2, Juventus 1
THE MAIN STORY
A day of surprises
Wednesday produced several eye-catching results and upsets, none more shocking than CSKA Moscow’s 3-0 win over Real Madrid at Estadio Santiago Bernabeau.
The Spaniards had already clinched first place in Group G and a berth in the Round of 16. Los blancos host Ray Vallecano in La Liga action on Saturday, and then immediately travel to the United Arab Emirates, where they’ll compete in the FIFA Club World Cup.
With this in mind, Real Madrid manager Santiago Solari gave most of his regular starters the night off and went to his bench in putting out what was in essence a “B team” against CSKA, who were already eliminated from contention. The Russians took full advantage, securing a famous win in Spain and handing Real its biggest ever home defeat in European competition.
Fans inside the Santiago Bernabeau jeered Real Madrid’s players at the final whistle, while some even headed for the exits in the 73rd minute after Arnor Sigurdsson netted CSKA’s third goal. But Solari made no apologies for his team selections. “The fans will jeer when they are not happy with the result. It’s not the result we wanted but we were able to rest some players and give more playing time to the youngsters,” Solari said.
There were similar upsets on the night, with Czech Republic club Viktoria Plzen beating AS Roma at home, and Swiss side Young Boys getting the better of visitors Juventus. Plzen and Young Boys were already eliminated ahead of Matchday 6, but they made their respective Italian opponents pay for their lackadaisical efforts on the night.
Down 1-0 to Hoffenheim in first-half injury time, Manchester City netted the equalizer courtesy of Leroy Sane. The German stepped up to the spot and hit a majestic free kick from 30 yards over the defensive wall that dipped and swerved before beating Hoffenheim goalkeeper Oliver Baumann.
Young Boys earned their first-ever win in the UEFA Champions League group stage on Wednesday, setting off wild fan celebrations inside Bern’s Stade de Suisse Wankdorf after the final whistle.
Ajax and Bayern Munich entered Matchday 6 having already booked their places in the knockout round. But the two historical rivals didn’t hold back, and instead put on a show in Amsterdam in a thrilling 3-3 draw that featured highlight-reel goals, several lead changes, two red cards and late drama courtesy of four goals in the last eight minutes of regulation.
“It’s sad to say the least to beat Real Madrid, earn seven points, but finish bottom and get eliminated from Europe. But we only have ourselves to blame. In any case, we’ve made sure we’ll spend the holidays in a great mood after tonight’s win.” – CSKA Moscow coach Viktor Goncharenko
Phil Jones’ propensity for scoring own-goals, like he did early in the second half in Valencia, didn’t go unnoticed on social media.
SIX PACK OF STATS
• Phil Jones is the first Manchester United player to score an own goal in a Champions League match since he also did so back in November 2011 vs. Benfica.
• Leroy Sane is the first German player to score against German opposition in the Champions League since Mesut Ozil vs. Bayern Munich in October 2015.
• Vinicius Junior (at 18 years and 152 days) is the third youngest player to start a Champions League match for Real Madrid, behind only Iker Casillas (18 years and 117 days) and Raul Gonzalez (18 years and 77 days).
• AS Roma have conceded at least once in each of their last 30 away games in the Champions League, the joint-longest run in the competition’s history (tied with Celtic).
• Olympique Lyon attempted 53 shots in the first half in the Champions League this season. Only Real Madrid (60), Barcelona and Juventus (57) have attempted more.
• Wednesday marked Massimiliano Allegri’s 50th Champions League game as Juventus manager.
Stats courtesy of Opta
1) Leroy Sane, Manchester City: Bagged two goals – including one off a spectacular free kick – in the Blues’ win over Hoffenheim.
2) Guillaume Hoarau, Young Boys: The veteran striker enjoyed one of the best nights of his career by scoring two goals in the Swiss club’s victory over Juventus.
3) Arnor Sigurdsson, CSKA Moscow: The Icelandic teenager scored one goal and set up another as CSKA stunned Real Madrid.