Arsenal, Chelsea crash as Bayern cruise

Arsenal and Chelsea had a UEFA Champion League night to forget as a Robert Lewandowski hat-trick helped Bayern Munich crush Dinamo Zagreb.

Champions Barcelona, missing injured icon Lionel Messi, followed up their opening Group E draw at Roma with a stirring come-from-behind 2-1 win at home against Bayer Leverkusen. The Germans appeared to have the three points in the bag after Kyriakos Papadopoulos’s header before the break. But Luis Suarez turned the game around in the final ten minutes as Sergi Roberto tapped home the rebound after the Uruguayan’s initial effort had been saved. And the former Liverpool striker thumped home a stunning effort to hand Barça a hard-fought three points, two minutes later. With Roma sent on their way 3-2 by BATE Borisov it left Barça shading Group E.

Jose Mourinho’s return to Porto, the team who the Portuguese guided to the 2004 title, proved an unhappy affair. Andre Andre’s opener for Porto late in the first half was quickly cancelled out by a superb Willian free-kick, but Maicon’s 52nd-minute header proved to be the difference in this Group G clash played at a rip-roaring pace. Dynamo Kyiv, 2-0 winners over Maccabi Tel Aviv, top the table on goal difference with Chelsea in third.

Arguably the most stunning result of the evening emerged from the Emirates Stadium, where Greek champions Olympiacos shocked Arsenal 3-2 to leave the Gunners stone last in Group F. The Greeks, ending a 12-match losing run in England, left Arsenal and their coach Arsene Wenger ashen-faced, and the team’s fans jeering at the final whistle.

After falling behind to Felipe Pardo’s deflected opener, Arsenal equalised through Theo Walcott. But then a mistake from goalkeeper David Ospina, selected over regular first choice Petr Cech, allowed a Kostas Fortounis corner to slip through his grasp for an own goal. Alexis Sanchez dragged Arsenal back into it with a second half equaliser, but incredibly the north Londoners imploded again with more slack defending gifting Iceland striker Alfred Finnbogason the winner. Beaten in the group curtain raiser in Zagreb, Arsenal are now up against it to extricate themselves from the pool stages.

To compound their plight, free-shooting Bayern Munich await, the German giants flexing their muscles against Zagreb. Bayern top the table, Pep Guardiola’s side cruising towards the knockout stage after Lewandowski’s treble, and goals from Douglas Costa and Mario Gotze steamrollered Dinamo Zagreb 5-0.

“We played in a very concentrated fashion from the start and when you take your goal chances, the game was over after 30 minutes,” Bayern captain Philipp Lahm said. Poland hot-shot Lewandowski has now scored ten goals in his last three games after netting five in just nine spectacular minutes of Bayern’s 5-1 hammering of Wolfsburg last Tuesday before claiming two more in Saturday’s 3-0 win at Mainz. “He’s had an unbelievable week behind him,” admitted Lahm.

Elsewhere, Zenit St. Petersburg remained unbeaten with a 2-1 home win over Belgian outfit Gent to top Group H from Valencia, 1-0 winners at Lyon. Wednesday’s menu features the two Manchester clubs, United and City, against Wolfsburg and Borussia Monchengladbach, while Real Madrid are in Malmo and Paris Saint-Germain have a tricky assignment away to Shakhtar Donetsk.


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