By Agathe Vanmassenhove || Sports Reporter
The Champions League Matchday 2 was held on October 3rd and 4th and did not disappoint with an explosion of goals. The group stage continued with each team playing their second game of the competition, playing for the first two spots in their groups after the kickoff of the 2023-24 Champions League two weeks earlier.
The second Matchday brought high-level games, but some of the final scores were surprising to everyone in the soccer world. The French team Lens took 3 points away from Arsenal as they battled until the last 20 minutes of the second half to win the game 2-1 at home. Arsenal is currently 2nd in the Premier League, which has been considered the most competitive league for several years, while Lens is currently 15th in Ligue 1, commonly called a “farmer league” for the lack of competition and low level of soccer played. Arsenal initially led 1-0 in the 14th minute thanks to a goal scored by Brazilian player Gabriel Jesus, but despite their Ligue 1 form, Lens stepped up for the most prestigious competition in Europe, scoring two beautiful goals in a beautiful team effort to bring Arsenal down. Adrien Thomasson scored the first goal 10 minutes after Arsenal’s initial goal, and Elye Wahi, a young promising French player born in 2003, solidified the victory for the Northern French team in the second half with another goal. The win invigorated the French population, whereas the other French team in the Champions League was a disappointment.
PSG, who were the favorites for their second game in the Champions League, were put in their place by Newcastle with a tough loss of 4-1 on the British ground. Leading 2-0 by halftime, Newcastle scored a third goal right after the break, practically making it impossible for the Parisian team to make a comeback. Lucas Hernandez, a recently transferred player from Bayern, managed to score one goal to make the game seem less pitiful for PSG, but Newcastle didn’t abandon their effort and scored a fourth goal in the extra time, emphasizing their dominant full-game showing. Newcastle are first in their group with 4 points, well deserved after giving such a performance against the favorite of this game.
Manchester City also made the British proud with a 3-1 win against RB Leipzig on German ground. As they beat Leipzig last year 7-0 during the first knockout round of the Champions League, the defending champion did it again to solidify their first-place standing in their group, with 6 points following two victories. On the other hand, the other Manchester team did not thrive during this second Matchday, suffering a tough loss at home against the Turkish team Galatasaray. After opening the score in the first quarter of the game, the Red Devils found themselves struggling with Galatasaray, tying the game quickly and holding their offense in check. Rasmus Højlund scored his second goal 25 minutes before the end of the game, but this only allowed Manchester United to lead for 5 minutes, as a second goal was scored by Galatasaray to tie the game up again. Soon after the Turkish equalizer, Manchester United saw their chances of winning this game fly away, as Casemiro was sent out of the game with a red card, giving Galatasaray a penalty opportunity. Mauro Icardi was chosen to shoot the goal, and missed the shot, giving the British team hope, only for Icardi to score the game-winning goal five minutes later. Manchester United have now suffered their second defeat in the Champions League, and are standing last in their group with zero points, despite being a favorite in their group alongside Bayern, who recorded a victory against Copenhagen.
On the Spanish side, four of five Spanish teams present in the Champions League won their game. Sevilla is the only Spanish team to not record a victory, tying their game against PSV Eindhoven on Dutch land. After Sevilla had a tough weekend in La Liga with a loss against FC Barcelona due to an own goal scored by Sergio Ramos, Sevilla couldn’t do better on the European side.
Real Madrid, Barcelona, Atletico Madrid, and Real Sociedad on the other hand all won their games with some difficulties. Real Madrid won 3-2 against Napoli in a tough away game in which Real Madrid struggled, giving away a penalty after halftime. They still managed to win thanks to an improbable shot by Valverde that bounced off a Napoli defender, causing the team to take an own goal with ten minutes left in the game. The other Madrid team did well, winning 3-2 against Feyenoord at home thanks to Alvaro Morata who scored two goals, and Antoine Griezmann, who is on a scoring streak recently with Atletico Madrid, scoring during every game he’s played in. Real Sociedad won their game against RB Salzburg (final score 2-0) pretty easily without conceding a goal. FC Barcelona also shut out Porto in the pivotal game for their group, winning 1-0. Barcelona managed to win 3 points thanks to a great opportunity put together by Ferran Torres a few minutes after he was subbed in for the injured Robert Lewandowski. The Blaugranas struggled during the game but managed to escape with the victory thanks to a big performance from Jules Kounde on his defensive line. In the second half, Barcelona played with 10 players on the field for 10 minutes, not because of a red card, but because 16-year-old player Lamine Yamal had to use the restroom, and coach Xavi Hernandez didn’t sub a new player in. The whole game felt like a fever dream for the Barcelona fans who are still wondering how the team managed to win with three points, putting them first in their group. Even with the win, the list of injured players at FC Barcelona grew even longer with seven players injured, raising questions about the quality of medical services within their club.
The Champions League once again did not disappoint and offered us a real show during the second Matchday. The players are now leaving for an international break in which they will join their national teams for two games. After this break, the Champions League will be back on October 24th and 25th.
Current group standing after the second Matchday:
Sophomore Agathe Vanmassenhove is a Sports Reporter. Her email is firstname.lastname@example.org.