|Mario Balotelli nets his maiden goal in Liverpool colours|
Five-time Champions League winners Liverpool made a winning return to the competition but were made to sweat by Bulgarian outfit Ludogorets in a dramatic match at Anfield. The Reds prodded the visitors from the onset but failed to get beyond their defence until the 82nd minute when Mario Balotelli found the back of the net after some powerful play saw him neatly guide the ball past Milan Borjan in Ludogorets’ goal. It was the Italian’s first goal since signing for the Merseysiders from AC Milan.
The goal relieved some pressure off the back of the majority fans at Anfield, but not for long. Ludogorets had been dangerous on the break all night troubling Liverpool on the break. With 90 minutes on the clock, the pressure cooker was back on after substitute Dani Albalo looked to have snatched a point for the Bulgarians. The Spaniard benefited from some suspect defending from Liverpool and with Simon Mignolet quick to rush off his line (quite needlessly), he rounded off the keeper before slotting home the equalizer.
With the match looking like it would end on a stalemate, Steven Gerrard dragged Liverpool right back in calmly poking the ball home with a last minute penalty after Borjan erred and fouled Javier Manquillo inside the penalty box.
In the other match in the group, Real Madrid had no problems brushing aside Swiss side Basel 5-1. The reigning champions were home and dry by half time. Basel’s Marek Suchy found the back of his own net at the quarter hour mark to put the hosts ahead before Real’s front three of Gareth Bale, Cristiano Ronaldo and James Rodriguez put their names in the scoresheet. Derlis Gonzalez drew one back for Basel with a neat finish before the breather but Karim Benzema restored the four-goal difference late in the second half. Benzema’s strike made it 1,000 goals for Los Blancos in European competition, the first club to achieve that fete.
Borussia Dortmund turned on the style as they made light work of Arsenal in a 2-0 win. Jurgen Klopp’s men were imperious with summer signing Ciro Immobile and Pierre-Emerick Aubemayang scoring either side of half time in a dominant display. Burak Yilmaz saved Galatasaray the blushes in front of the home fans after scoring in stoppage time to salvage a point against Anderlecht who had scored through Dennis Praet.
Monaco put aside their poor start to the Ligue 1 season with a 1-0 win over Bayer Leverkusen. Portuguese international Joao Moutinho smashed home the all important goal at the hour mark to take the three points and join Zenit St. Petersburg at the summit of Group C. The Russian side secured a 2-0 away success at Benfica. Powerful forward Hulk lobbed in the opener for the visitors inside five minutes with Axel Witsel punishing his former employers with the second in the 22nd minute.
Carlos Tevez struck twice for Juventus in their 2-0 win over visiting Swedish side Malmo FF. The 30-year-old opened the scoring in the 59th minute with his second coming in the 90th minute via a free kick. Last year’s runners up, Atletico Madrid ended on the losing side of a 5-goal thriller at Olympicaos Piraeus. Diego Simeone’s men fell behind to an Arthur Masuaku goal in the 13th minute and Ibrahim Afellay made it 2-0 at the half hour mark. Mario Mandzukic headed in for the visitors to halve the deficit before half time. However, Konstantinos Mitroglou restored the two-goal lead in the 73rd minute but Antoine Griezman made it 3-2 four minutes before full time at the Karaisakis stadium.
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