The Group-Stage action in the 2015-16 UEFA Champions League season got underway with 16 matches over two days on September 15 and16, 2015. In their first home fixture at Santiago Bernabeu against Shakhtar Donetsk, Cristiano Ronaldo’s hat-trick was the highpoint and it led to the home side’s 4-0 victory. In other notable results, Dinamo Zagreb recorded their first group stage win in 16 matches against Arsenal; Barcelona had to be content with a draw with Roma at Camp Nou, after a spectacular long-distance strike from Roma’s Alessandro Florenzi and the match between Belgian Club AA Gent and French Club Lyon ended as a draw, when Gent’s goalkeeper Matz Sels saved an 88-minute penalty even as Gent were down to nine man.
The 2015-16 UEFA Champions League season had the opening two Group-Stage match-days on September 15 and 16, 2015; 8 matches on each day. At Santiago Bernabeu, Real Madrid hosted Ukraine’s Shakhtar Donetsk and had a grand opening, when Isco blew a chance in the third minute, when he shot over the crossbar and one minute later, Marlos’s cross narrowly missed Alex Teixeira. In the 15th minute, Ronaldo sent a neat through-ball to Karim Benzema, who had an empty goal after going around Pyatov but the French striker fired over. Gareth Bale went off the field with a limping leg but Real got the breakthrough in 30th minute, when Pyatov spilled Isco’s cross from the left and Benzema made no mistake. Early in the second half, Real Madrid went up 3-0 by successive penalties from Cristiano Ronaldo, when Shakhtar’s Darijo Srna and Marcio Azevedo were both adjudged to have handled the ball. Ronaldo completed his hat-trick in the 80th minute, when he also scored his 80th UEFA Champions League goal after Pyatov’s block of a close-range effort from Marcelo fell in Ronaldo’s path and the champion scorer made no error.
Of all teams in Group-Stage this year, FC Barcelona has the best record. They have won the title 4 times out of their last 10 outings and reached the semifinals in 7 out of the last 8 appearances. But they met with disappointment in their match against AS Roma on September 16. In the 18th minute, FCB’s Rakitic gathered a long ball from Mathieu and headed it to Suarez at the far post. The Uruguayan took Barca 1-0 up with a close-range strike. In the 24th minute, Barcelona could have made it 2-0 from a possible penalty but the referee ignored the manner in which Szczesny brought down Suarez in the goal area. In the 31st minute, one saw a magic. Roma’s Alessandro Florenzi produced a stunning shot from 50 meters that sailed straight over the Barca goalkeeper and landed into the goal. It was one of the most spectacular goals and the scores read 1-1. Nothing happened for the next 60 minutes despite attempts from both sides and Barca had to rest content with the 1-1 draw.
In a Group F match between Croatian champions Dinamo Zagreb and EPL giants Arsenal, the gunners were favorites because Dinamo had not won a group-stage tie in their 15 previous attempts since 1999 and never had they advanced to Champions League knockout rounds. But the Croats changed all that with a famous home victory at Maksimir. In 24th minute, Josip Pirovic’s shot fell out of David Ospina’s hands in the path of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who whacked it for a 1-0 lead for Dinamo. Arsenal’s task became hard when Olivier Giroud got his second yellow card in the 40th minute and had to leave. Dynamo doubled their lead in the 58th minute, when Junior Fernandes headed in a whipped up corner from left. Arsenal pulled one back through substitute, Theo Walcott and it seemed they were trying to comeback but despite five minutes of stoppage time, nothing came of their efforts. Arsenal was not the only EPL side that suffered on first two days of the Group-stage matches of the UEFA Champions League. Manchester City had a 1-2 home loss against Juventus while Manchester United lost to PSV with an identical margin at Eindhoven. However, Chelsea crushed Maccabi Tel Aviv 4-0 at Stamford Bridge as the lone EPL team to register victory.
AA Gent staged a great fight back to clinch a 1-1 draw against Lyon after Brecht Dejaegere was sent off in the first half and Thomas Foket in the second. They also had a 58-minute goal scored against them but the Belgians equalized through Danijel Milicevic’s super strike in the 68th minute. Then their goalkeeper Matz Sels, when he denied Alexandre Lacazette from penalty spot in the 88th minute.
In other matches, Paris Saint-Germaine defeated Malmo 2-0 at Paris; Wolfsburg beat CSKA Moskva at Wolfsburg 1-0; Atletico beat Galatasaray 2-0 at Istanbul; Benefica defeated Astana 2-0 at Lisbon; Sevilla recorded a 3-0 win over Monchengladbach at Seville; Leverkusen had a 4-1 home win against BATE; Bayern Munich defeated Olympiacos 3-0 at Pireus; Dynamo Kyiv drew 2-2 with FC Porto at Kyiv and Valencia lost a home game against Zenit 2-3.
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