It wasn’t exactly a brilliant week in the Champions League for English clubs now, was it. In fact, it’s probably fair enough to call it a disastrous week on the continent for the best the Premier League have to offer.
Chelsea are on the verge of becoming the first defending champions to exit at the group stages in the Champions League-era following their 3-0 defeat against Juventus – a result which pre-empted Roberto di Matteo’s departure form the hot seat at Stamford Bridge.
If that wasn’t bad enough Manchester City’s failure to reach the knockout stages was confirmed with a draw against Real Madrid, while Manchester United lost to Galatasaray in Turkey, although they had already qualified for the next round.
In fact, if it wasn’t for Arsenal’s win over Montpellier, the cream of the English crop would have been a laughing stock, thank god they dodged that bullet…..
But of course another engrossing week in European club football’s premier competition wouldn’t be complete without a round-up of the best net stretchers from around the continent. So check out the five best goals from the Champions League below, and pray for Philippe Mexes’ life after he dared scored a goal that could have bettered Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s effort against England. Nobody shows up the Zlatan….
Philippe Mexes, Anderlecht 1-3 AC Milan
Here is the crime, I mean goal in question – and to be fair it certainly gives Ibra’s goal a run for its money.
While Ibrahimovic had the benefit of Joe Hart going walkies, Mexes not only had to contend with a goalkeeper actually on his line (a novel idea, I know) but a packed penalty area waiting for a free-kick to be swung in by Riccardo Montolivo.
The Frenchman controls the ball with his chest, before looping his overhead kick right into the top corner from tight angle. A truly unbelievable strike.
Lukas Podolski, Arsenal 2-0 Montpellier
Are you Robin van Persie in disguise? The Dutchman made something of a habit of banging in volleys from a tight angle last season for the Gunners, and while he has since departed, it would appear as though Lukas Podolski is ready to step into his place.
Podolski lit up Arsenal’s otherwise drab 2-0 win over Montpellier as he played a one-two with Olivier Giroud before slamming the Frenchman’s looping return pass into the roof of the net.
Joao Moutinho, Porto 3-0 Dinamo Zagreb
Tottenham fans look away now. Joao Moutinho, the man who Spurs came within a whisker of landing on deadline day for a club record fee played an absolute blinder last night as Porto put Dinamo Zagreb to the sword.
In between his two pretty special assists that helped his side record a comfortable victory, the Portuguese international curled a delightful long-range free-kick into the top corner. Fear not Spurs, there’s always the January window.
Willian, Nordsjaelland 2-5 Shakhtar Donetsk
Another target for Tottenham as well as Chelsea, Willian demonstatred the skills that have attracted the big boys from the Premier League with a brilliant goal on Tuesday evening.
With Nordsjaelland surprising Donetsk with their early spirit (and Donetsk trying to spoil the game with their mean spirit – Luiz Adriano, I’m looking at you) Willian nudged his side ahead in the second half with a fine curling strike from range.
Lionel Messi, Spartak Moscow 0-3 Barcelona
Is there anything more than needs to be said about Lionel Messi? The Barcelona forward has the record for most goals in a single year in his sights, but he couldn’t help equaling a record along the way as he hunts down Gerd Muller’s tally of 85 goals.
Messi became the joint second highest scorer in Champions League history alongside Ruud van Nistelrooy with a fittingly fine goal, courtesy of some nice interplay from his team mates. That’s 56 in Europe now for Messi, and Raul’s record total of 71 is well and truly in his sights.