It was a huge week in European football. Here we go.
Chelsea’s poor form in the Premier League unfortunately did not carry over into Wednesday’s clash with Maccabi Tel Aviv in their Champions League opener, as they spent the better part of the game running at will through Maccabi’s defenders in a 4:0 rout. Although the match began with an early penalty miss from Chelsea’s Eden Hazard, Maccabi wasn’t able to keep the Blues at bay for long, with Willian scoring a goal that was seriously misplayed by goalkeeper by Predrag Rajkovic, and Oscar netting a penalty well into first half stoppage time. Diego Costa’s third goal was a stunner (see below), and Cesc Fabregas’ goal in the 78th minute added insult to serious ego injury. Maccabi will look to rebound on Sunday against Hapoel Ra’anana in Ligat Ha’al and on September 29th against Dynamo Kiev in their second Champions League match in group play.
Hemed the Hammer
In Britain’s League Championship, Tomer Hemed can’t stop scoring goals for Brighton & Hove Albion, and the Seagulls can’t stop winning, sporting a gaudy 6-1-0 record and 19 points out of a possible 21. Hemed netted his fourth goal last Saturday in a 1:0 win over Hull City, and his fifth on Tuesday against Rotherham in a 2:1 victory- see that beauty below. Albion is sitting comfortably at the top of the table, five points ahead of Middlesborough and Burnley, with a match against 15th-place Wolverhampton on Saturday.
Bitton strikes in Amsterdam
Despite Celtic’s collapse against Malmo in the Champions League qualification playoffs, the silver lining of Europa League qualification meant European play would continue for the Hoops. In Thursday’s opener against Ajax, Nir Bitton’s 8th minute goal broke the ice, and the two teams battled to a 2:2 draw in Amsterdam. Celtic will host Istanbul’s Fenerbahce on October 1 at Celtic Park in their next Europa League match.
Late heroics in Dnipropetrovsk (not Israel, but still important)
Trailing Lazio 1:0 well into stoppage time, FC Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk’s Yevhen Seleznyov scored in the 94th minute to salvage a 1:1 draw in front of the home fans at Dnipro Arena. Dninpro’s inspiring run to the Europa League final last year will be hard to replicate, but the campaign certainly got off to a dramatic start. Dnipro travels to Norway on October 1 to take on Rosenborg. Here’s a reminder about why we root for Dnipro.