How Did Premier League Teams Fare in Europe?
The Premier League had eight representatives in the three European elite competitions, locking horns with several teams across the continent in the Match Day 1 fixtures.
The Champions League had the defending champions, Manchester City, alongside Arsenal, Manchester United and Newcastle, while the Europa League hosted the likes of Liverpool, Brighton and UEFA Conference League winners, West Ham. The only Premier League contingent in the Conference League this season was Aston Villa. Following their poor outings in the last Premier League campaign, Tottenham and Chelsea failed to qualify for Europe, which was surprising to say the least.
Without further ado, here is the breakdown of Premier League clubs in the first round of European games.
Arsenal 4-0 PSV
The Gunners put up a dominating performance against PSV Eindhoven in their return to the Champions League after six-and-a-half years out of the competition. Bukayo Saka opened the scoring from a rebound after Martin Odegaard’s goal-bound was saved by Walter Benitez. Saka turned from scorer to provider when he teed up Leandro Trossard in a transition play, and the Belgian maverick side-footed the ball home from outside the box.
Trossard got involved in the third goal of the night, dinking a sumptuous cross that was controlled superbly by Gabriel Jesus before he smashed the ball in with his follow up attempt. Arsenal captain, Martin Odegaard, put the final nail in PSV’s coffin with a trademark drilled effort to the far post. With the North London Derby looming, Mikel Arteta made some wholesale changes to key players to keep them fresh.
Bayern Munich 4-3 Manchester United
It was a tumultuous time for both clubs, as the Bavarian giants didn’t have Thomas Tuchel in the dugout, following his suspension in the defeat to Manchester City last season, allowing Zsolt Low to take charge of the home side. Manchester United, on the other hand, has been plagued with issues on and off the pitch, and the players went into this game low in confidence, following successive Premier League losses to Arsenal and Brighton.
The opening goal of the match was downright embarrassing, as Leroy Sane fired a tame shot after a one-two with Harry Kane but for some inexplicable reason, the ball bundled past Andre Onana. The Cameroonian goalie probably wanted the ground to open for him to sink into, but the game had to go on. Bayern doubled their lead when the uber-talented Jamal Musiala made a mazy run and found Serge Gnabry from the byline, whose one-timed finish left Onana rooted to the spot.
Manchester United clawed one back through a scrappy goal from Rasmus Hojlund, but when Christian Eriksen handled the ball in his box from a Bayern Munich corner, and after a VAR check, a penalty was awarded. There are certain things in life – death, taxes and Harry Kane smashing in from 12 yards, which ensured Bayern’s two goal lead was restored, and the English captain scoring his first Champions League goal for the club against English opposition. This things are written in the stars, I guess.
Manchester United rallied for comeback and reduced the deficit again from Casemiro. The Brazilian midfielder showed great determination to latch onto Anthony Martial’s pass and fired the ball home while he was on the ground, but the Premier League side’s hope of an equalizer were dashed when Mathys Tel blasted in Bayern’s fourth goal of the night, thanks to a combination of Joshua Kimmich’s brilliant pass and shocking defending. Casemiro was on hand again to nod in Bruno Fernandes’ dead ball, bringing the pulsating encounter to an end.
This was Manchester United’s fourth defeat in five games, and they will need to come out of their shell when they face Burnley this weekend.
AC Milan 0-0 Newcastle
Nothing much to say about this game than the fact that it was a goalkeeping clinic from Nick Pope. The big man made eight key saves and was more than a match for everything the Italian giant posed at him. The defending was very resolute and Newcastle offered nothing from an attacking perspective.
With Paris St. Germain and Borussia Dortmund still to play, Eddie Howe would know that he has his work cut out for him if he wants to advance from this Group of Death.
Manchester City 3-1 Red Star Belgrade
Like we have come to see in recent times, Manchester City always dominate their opposition but still find a way to concede in the game. Shockingly, Red Star Belgrade ended the first half ahead of the proceedings when Omar Bukari broke free of the defense and blasted the ball past Ederson.
Manchester City was a different beast in the second half and it was no surprise seeing them hit hard at Red Star Belgrade with everything they had. The Cityzen got a well-deserved equalizer when the red-hot Julian Alvarez latched onto Erling Haaland’s past, breezed past the goalie and prodded the ball home. Alvarez continued his good form by scoring a free kick from some distance, although it was more attributed to a poor goalkeeping display from Omri Glazer. Rodri settled the contest with a well placed effort to send Manchester City home and dry.
West Ham 3-1 TSC Backa Topola
Featuring in the Europa League against such unknown opposition from Serbia afforded David Moyes the chance to rest his big guns with the likes of Lukasz Fabianski, Thilo Kehrer, Angelo Ogbonna, Aaron Cresswell, Pablo Fornals and Danny Ings. There were full debuts for new signings, Muhammed Kudus and Konstatinos Mavropanos.
The first goal arrived in comedic fashion as Ogbonna was robbed off the ball close to the center circle by Petar Stanic. The Serb used his pace to bear down on goal before placing it past Fabianski to put the visitors ahead in the London Stadium. The Hammers got an equalizer after some brilliant work from Said Benrahma on the left. His cross was aimed for Kudus but Nemanja Petrovic got ahead of the Ghanaian and scored an unfortunate own goal.
There was no denying Kudus his first West Ham goal when he got ahead of a defender to head James Ward-Prowse’s corner kick from point blank range. James Ward-Prowse was back on the assists again when his second was headed home by Tomas Soucek. Ward-Prowse has been a phenomenal signing for West Ham, scoring two goals and five assists in his first five games with the club.
LASK 1-3 Liverpool
Just like West Ham, Liverpool used the Europa League to rest a host of key players, handing out starts to Caoimhin Kelleher, Kostas Tsimikas, Stefan Bajcetic, Ben Doak, Harvey Elliot, Watara Endo, Darwin Nunez and new signing, Ryan Gravenberch.
The opening goal was a scorcher with Florian Flecker latching onto Sascha Horvath’s corner and blasting the ball home. Liverpool got their equalizer from the penalty spot, with Nunez converting from 12 yards when Luis Diaz was scythed down by a LASK defender. The Reds, in Purple, got ahead when Gravenberch sent a carefully threaded pass to Diaz, whose one-time finish put the ball past Tobias Lawal in the LASK goal.
The final goal of the night was scored by the Pharoah himself, Mo Salah, who came on as a sub to get some minutes under his belt. He received Nunez pass, darted into the six yard box and poked the ball through the goalies legs in typical Salah fashion.
Brighton 2-3 AEK Athens
Brighton received a rude awakening in their first ever Europa League outing, as Greek side, AEK Athens came to their home turf to repeat the feat West Ham did a few weeks ago.
The match opener arrived when Djibril Sidibe was completely unmarked at the edge of the box and headed home a well lofted corner from Ehsan Haji Safi. Brighton earned a penalty in an awkward fashion, when Joao Pedro was tackled in the box by Safi and was given a yellow card for simulation, but after a VAR check, the referee reversed his initial decision and made the correct call. Pedro stepped up and converted the spot kick.
AEK Athens got ahead again after Levi Garcia’s free kick was sent home by Mijat Gacinovic. The Brighton defending was really poor and they got punished. Joao Pedro won yet another penalty when he used his pace to rob the ball off Damian Szymanski that brought him down as he attempted a clearance. He stepped up and sent the goalie the wrong way to level the scoring.
Brighton received a sucker punch late on, when Ezequiel Ponce took Niclas Eliasson’s pass on his stride and placed it past Jason Steele.
Legia Warsaw 3-2 Aston Villa
The last English team that featured in the UEFA Conference League won the whole damn thing, and in Unai Emery, Aston Villa has a manager with European winning pedigree, but they started their Conference League campaign on the wrong foot, losing to Legia Warsaw. With half an eye on the all-important clash against Chelsea, Emery made some wholesale changes with new loan signing from Barcelona, Clement Lenglet, coming into the fray alongside Calum Chambers, Youri Tielemans, Leon Bailey, Nicolo Zaniolo and Jhon Duran.
Legia Warsaw grabbed the lead when Pawel Wszlolek blasted in a cross from Patryk Kun in the center of the box. Aston Villa got their equalizer in swift fashion, just three minutes after Legia Warsaw scored from Duran. The hosts went ahead though star player, Ernest Muci, but Aston Villa clawed them back through a very good goal from Lucas Digne. With Moreno returning from injury, Digne’s place is under threat.
Muci scored his brace and what proved to be the match winner, sending Villa fans to agony.
It was an eventful set of European games and it was nice to see Premier League clubs slug it out against the rest of the continent.
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Posted on September 22, 2023, in Arsenal, Champions League, Europa League, Football, Premier League and tagged Arsenal, Champions League, Football, Premier League. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.