MICHAEL ADUBATO - Thursday, October 22, 2020
Ethan Horvath made his long-awaited return for Club Brugge goal while Sergino Dest helped Barcelona to an opening win in Match Day 1 of the UEFA Champions League.
Zenit St Petersburg 1-2 Club Brugge
Ethan Horvath started in goal for the Belgian champions due to the fact that Simon Mignolet recently tested positive for COVID-19, thereby giving the American his first game of the season for the Blue-Blacks. His first game happened to be a victory against their Russian opponents in Champions League action.
The American did look a bit nervous in the early minutes, mishandling a ball that he managed to recover in the end but it could have spelled disaster.
It took until the 40th minute for a shot on goal and it came from Club. Ruud Vormer shipped the ball into the box and Hans Vanaken launched a powerful header goal-bound from eight yards out but too close to Zenit's keeper, Mikhail Kerzhakov, who tipped it over the crossbar.
A minute later Vanaken launched a shot from outside the box but it kept rising and sailed wide of the target. Although the hosts had been dominating possession; Club looked more likely to score.
A defensive miscommunication at the other end could have spelled trouble but the clearance resulted in a corner kick that Dejan Lovern struck, but the American keeper read it well and easily saved the Croatian's attempt.
Two minutes into the restart Zenit had a penalty shout but it was waved away as Magomed Ozdoev was judged to have fallen down unassisted. The ball fell to Sebastián Driussi who hit it hard but also wide, to the relief of Horvath.
Just before the hour mark Sardar Azmoun looked to score but a last-minute defensive lunge put it out for a corner that the Russians wasted. The game really came alive at this time. Another corner and a free header from Azmoun from 6 yards out missed the target. The hosts were threatening though.
The breakthrough came in the 63rd minute and it was Club who broke the deadlock. Emmanuel Dennis kept the ball from going out behind the goal and centered it but two close-range shots were blocked before Dennis smashed it into the goal. The Zenit boys thought it had gone out but VAR said goal.
Immediately at the other end, Azmoun found Vyacheslav Karavaev in the box but he hit it wide when he should have scored a simple goal. Then there was an amazing miss in the 71st minute when again the Iranian slid it across the box for Driussi who just arrived in the box. The Argentinian however blasted it into the cheap seats.
In the 74th minute, the game was all square. Lovern hit it from distance and squeezed it almost inside the near post as Horvath went diving for it. It bounced off the post and then off the back of the American, thus ending up in the back of his own net.
Five minutes later Horvath came up trumps with a nice close-range save from Artem Dzyubato. The game completely opened up and there were chances at both ends. With a minute to go Wendel got off a shot that was deflected sending Horvath the wrong way but he recovered and pushed it away. After a shaky start and the unfortunate goal, the American regained his confidence and played well.
Club will return to league action over the weekend when they travel east to take on OH Leuven.
Barcelona 5-1 Ferencvaros
Sergino Dest started for Barcelona as the Spaniards thrashed the Hungarian champions, putting five past Dénes Dibusz between the Ferencvaros sticks.
The difference in class was immediate although it took almost a half-hour before Barca lit up the scoreboard. The opening goal was from, who else but Lionel Messi. The Argentinian made a typical Messi-esque run into the box and was brought down. He easily converted from the penalty spot. The Spanish club would find the back of the net one more time in the first half and it was Ansu Fati who did the honors in the 42nd minute. The ball was played over the top and into the box by Frankie de Jong. The naturalized 17-year-old Spaniard made the run from the left and hit the ball first time with the outside of his foot, finding the inside far post.
Just after the restart the goalscorer turned provided when he set up Philippe Coutinho after a few minutes. Inside the box, a backheel pass went straight to the Brazilian and he easily beat Dibusz.
With just 20 minutes left on the clock, Ferencvaros got one back when Gerard Piqué grabbed a handful of a Hungarian shirt inside the box and was shown a straight red card. The penalty was converted by Ukrainian Ihor Kharatin. Barca however retrieved their three-goal lead a dozen minutes later when Pedri came off the bench and scored, although Dibusz did get a hand to it, although not strong enough to keep it out. Ousmane Dembélé scored the last one in the 89th minute to complete the scoring on the night.
Dest and his team will be in action at home on Saturday night when they welcome Real Madrid for the biggest game on the Spanish calendar - El Classico.
Chelsea 0-0 Sevilla
Chelsea opened their Champions League campaign at home and were left frustrated as they could not break down the Sevilla defense and ended up sharing the points with the Spanish side. Christian Pulisic was there for most of the game, coming off in the 91st minute.
Sevilla had the first sniff at goal with Lucas Ocampos charging in from the left and letting off a shot from close range that ended up high over the crossbar. In the 17th minute, the visitors thought that scored and would have if not for the quick reaction of Edouard Mendy between the Chelsea posts. They had a couple more half-decent chances before the intermission but nothing came of it.
In the 67th minute, off a corner, Joan Jordan let off a great shot off the volley just inside the box but it didn't dip enough to make it under the bar, so another chance was wasted. Overall, the teams canceled each other out and the return leg should be another interesting game although not for a couple of months. In the meantime, the Londoners will take on Manchester United over the weekend in Premier League action.
Lazio 3-1 Borussia Dortmund
Gio Reyna started the game on the bench and by the time he made it onto the field at the beginning of the second half, Dortmund was already down by a pair of goals. They could only get one back while giving up another as they fell in Rome.
Ciro Immobile got things underway after just six minutes when he beat a pair of defenders and the keeper, Marwin Hitz from six yards out. The Swiss keeper got in on the scoring action himself in the 23rd minute when Luiz Felipe's close-range header was missed by the hands of Hitz but he did manage a glancing header that put the ball into the back of his own net.
The young American came off the bench and made an impact by setting up his Norwegian teammate, Erling Haaland to get Borussia back in the game. The optimism was short-lived however because five minutes later Hitz was picking the ball out of the back of his net again. Jean-Daniel Akpro scored from seven yards out to put the game to bed.
This weekend the Germans will return to action on Saturday when they host Schalke.
Tyler Adams came off the bench for RB Leipzig as the Bundesliga side came away with a 2-0 win over Champions League debutantes Istanbul Basaksehir from Turkey.
Zack Steffen watched on from the bench as Manchester City came from behind to secure a 3-1 win over FC Porto.
Juventus played Dinamo Kyiv in Ukraine and the Italian champs came away with a 2-0 win. Weston McKennie missed this one due to his recent COVID-19 positive test. Next up for the team is a Sunday night home game against
Chris Richards was not on the team sheet for Bayern Munich as the Germans kept a clean sheet and put four past Atletico Madrid. Up next however is a home league game against Eintracht Frankfurt.