Five awesome things that happened in the Champions League (9/18)

Five awesome things that happened in the Champions League (9/18)

Today marked the beginning of the greatest professional sports tournament in the world, the UEFA Champions League, and did it ever deliver.

There were eight matches, and by and large, they were all entertaining to watch. And while you won’t be seeing stories on each and every single contest from today, I wanted to take the opportunity to tell you all about five awesome things that happened over the course of the first day of this competition.

A legend dished out a marvelous hat-trick, a team staged a brilliant comeback at home, an American secured victory for his side, a late-game substitute brought the fans at Anfield to their feet, and a former giant in the sport returned to the competition it once dominated. Let’s get right into it.

Leo Messi bags a hat-trick against PSV.


Unsurprisingly, we begin this countdown of sorts with the greatest player on planet Earth, Leo Messi. He has been blisteringly good this season, having already scored four goals for Barca in four matches. But the little Argentine turned on the jets today, bagging a triple against PSV, a team that looked completely baffled by the tiki-taka masters.

Messi opened up scoring with one of his go-to strikes, a free kick. His first goal of the day was significant in that PSV became the thirtieth team to give one up against the Barca captain.

It took number 10 around 45 minutes in game time to score again, however thanks to a marvelous flick pass from Ivan Rakitić, Messi was able to easily get another one passed PSV keeper Jeroen Zoet.

Then just 10 minutes later, Messi scored one more time to complete the hat-trick, his eighth in his Champions League career and first since October 2016. It’s always special to see a maestro compose a wonderful melody, and Messi is a conductor in the highest regard.

Inter steals a victory from Tottenham after being down 1-0.


Internazionale opened up their stadium for Champions League soccer for the first time since the 2011-12 season, however, it didn’t get off on the right foot. Tottenham’s Christian Eriksen bagged himself perhaps the strangest goal of the day early in the second half, and it appeared the Italian club was going to fall once again.

Mauro Icardi’s club has struggled terribly in Serie A to this point. As a matter of fact, Inter is sitting in 15th place, and hovering close to the relegation zone. Now, of course, it is way too early for them to start panicking, however, a loss to Tottenham would’ve not helped things.

But the Nerazzurri summoned everything that they had left, and like a phoenix rising from the ashes, were able to bag not just one goal in the last ten minutes, but two, and give them an improbable 2-1 victory.

Icardi and Matías Vecino both scored to send their team to the highest stages of nirvana while Mauricio Pochettino’s was left shaking his head as he witnessed his team fall apart once again.

Dele Alli and Hugo Lloris can’t come back soon enough.

American superstar Christian Pulisic scores game-winner for Borussia Dortmund.


Now let’s get patriotic, shall we? American wunderkind Christian Pulisic returned to active duty for Borussia Dortmund today, and not a day too soon. This is particularly true because he was celebrating his birthday, his 20th birthday to be exact, and what would a budding superstar want on his special day? Well, how about a goal to give your side a 1-0 victory and three crucial away day points?

Pulisic was able to do just that, and do it in style. Captain America didn’t really shoot the ball, but actually deflected a defensive clearance that hovered over the goalkeeper and fell into the back of the net. But a goal is a goal no matter how you slice it, I suppose.

Happy Birthday, Christian!

Roberto Firmino wins the game for Liverpool just days after sustaining an eye injury.


If I was to select the game of the day for today, this clash between European juggernauts Liverpool and Paris Saint-Germain would win in a landslide. Both teams controlled the pace of the match for long periods of time. Both teams scored clutch goals. And both team’s star player failed to do much of anything.

The only thing Mo Salah did was score a goal that was taken away after referees called a foul on striker Daniel Sturridge. Apart from that, he was unable to create or finish any big chances and was guilty of trying a terrible pass that ended up a goal for PSG wunderkind Kylian Mbappe.

Neymar was also particularly bad. He looked sluggish and even uninterested throughout the match. Even as he undoubtedly heard the PSG fans sing and cheer all game, he couldn’t muster the effort that his team desperately needed, especially in the second half.

The biggest moment of the match came after striker Roberto Firmino came in to replace Sturridge. Fans weren’t sure whether or not the Brazilian striker was going to play after he was poked in the eye on Saturday, but Klopp put his faith in Mr. No Look. That faith paid off in spades in the waning moments of the game that was knotted at two.

Firmino danced around two PSG defenders like a ballet dancer and smashes the ball past goalkeeper Areola and into the back of the net. He then sprinted to the corner flag and flashed his hand over his eye. Liverpool’s cyclops had finished off yet another team and salvaged three huge points for the Reds. What a guy!

Red Star Belgrade plays their first Champions League Group Stage match since 1991-92


Red Star Belgrade was once an absolute giant in European soccer. They were a constant presence in the top competition and even won the Champions League way back in 1991. This may seem hard to believe, but they have won as many CLs as Chelsea and Borussia Dortmund and more than Manchester City, Roma, and Atletico Madrid.

However, the Zvezda had failed to reach the Group Stage since 1991-92, the year after they won it all. To put that into perspective, Red Star Belgrade was representing the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia at the time. Serbia didn’t exist yet, and heck, Serbia and Montenegro wasn’t even a country at that point.

So it’s been a long time since the insane ultras from Belgrade were able to be unleashed on the biggest stage. And it’s really nice to see them back, mostly because their fans perfectly straddle the line between being unbelievably passionate with being an actual mob. They’ve been guilty of the latter recently, but they were on their best behavior when Napoli came into town.

That’s probably in part because their team held the Italian side to zero goals while also failing to score themselves. To put it nicely, this wasn’t the most exciting contest to watch, especially for someone like me who watches almost nothing but Liverpool games. But that’s okay because I could see that this game meant the world to Red Star fans, and what’s wrong with that?

Be sure to come back tomorrow, because we are just getting this party started. There are eight more matches to watch, enjoy, and analyze, and you bet that we here at the Game Changer Sports Network will be here every step of the way.

But in the meantime, here is what the Champions League table looks like right now. See you all tomorrow!

And for more LIVE updates, follow me on Twitter @IFoundAndrew.

Group A

  1. Atletico Madrid (1-0-0, 1 goal difference)
  2. Borussia Dortmund (1-0-0, 1 goal difference)
  3. AS Monaco (0-0-1, -1 goal difference)
  4. Club Brugge (0-0-1, -1 goal difference)

Group B

  1. FC Barcelona (1-0-0, 4 goal difference)
  2. Internazionale (1-0-0, 1 goal difference)
  3. Tottenham (0-0-1, -1 goal difference)
  4. PSV (0-0-1, -4 goal difference)

Group C

  1. Liverpool (1-0-0, 1 goal difference)
  2. Red Star Belgrade (0-1-0, 0 goal difference)
  3. Napoli (0-1-0, 0 goal difference)
  4. Paris Saint-Germain (0-0-1, -1 goal difference)

Group D

  1. Galatasaray (1-0-0, 3 goal difference)
  2. FC Porto (0-1-0, 0 goal difference)
  3. Schalke (0-1-0, 0 goal difference)
  4. Lokomotiv Moscow (0-0-1, -3 goal difference)

And here are tomorrow’s matches (All times EST)

  1. Ajax vs. AEK (12:55 PM)
  2. Shakhtar Donetsk vs. Hoffenheim (12:55 PM)
  3. Benfica vs. Bayern Munich (3:00 PM)
  4. Manchester City vs. Lyon (3:00 PM)
  5. Viktoria Plzen vs. CSKA Moscow (3:00 PM)
  6. Real Madrid vs. Roma (3:00 PM)
  7. Valencia vs. Juventus (3:00 PM)
  8. Young Boys vs. Manchester United (3:00 PM)

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