Ronaldo, Lewandowski shine; Barça flounder; Chelsea stumble

Sports Desk, Sep 29 (EFE).- Cristiano Ronaldo scored deep in stoppage time Wednesday to give Manchester United a 2-1 victory over Villarreal in Group F of the Champions League and Robert Lewandowski scored twice in Bayern Munich’s 5-0 rout of Dynamo Kiev.

Chelsea, meanwhile, saw their defense of the Champions League title take a hit in the form of a 1-0 loss to Juventus, yet the biggest story of Match Day 2 unfolded in Lisbon, where Benfica topped Barcelona 3-0 to leave the Catalan club bottom in Group E.

Darwin Nuñez grabbed the early lead for Benfica with a goal in the 3rd minute and Rafa Silva made it 2-0 in the 69th, connecting with the rebound after Marc-Andre ter Stegen made the initial stop against Joao Maria.

And what little hope remained for Barça disappeared when a VAR review confirmed a hand ball by Sergiño Dest and Nuñez converted from the spot with 11 minutes left in regulation.

Two rounds into the group stage, Barcelona are without a point or even a goal and the position of coach Ronald Koeman is looking increasingly untenable.

At the top of Group E sit Bayern with 6 points, 2 more than Benfica and 5 better than Dynamo.

Lewandowski, the European Golden Boot for two years running, gave the Bavarians a 2-0 lead at the break with goals in the 12th minute – from the spot – and the 27th minute.

The Pole has scored 24 times in his last 18 Champions League games and trails only Ronaldo (136) and Lionel Messi (120) for most career goals in the competition.

Serge Gnabry extended the lead in the 68th minute, six minutes before Leroy Sane made it 4-0. Eric Maxim Chuopo-Moting added a fifth goal with three minutes left.

Man United welcomed Villarreal to Old Trafford for a rematch of the 2020-2021 Europa League final, in which the Spanish side prevailed on penalties.

Unai Emery’s men took the game to United and David De Gea made a series of fine stops in the first half before conceding a goal to Paco Alcacer in the 53rd minute.

The advantage lasted only until the hour mark, when Alex Telles equalized for the hosts.

De Gea shut down a pair of chances for Villarreal in the final minutes of regulation and Ronaldo redeemed a not very impressive performance by the Red Devils with a storybook finale for the 70,000 people in the stands at the “Theater of Dreams.”

The Europa League holders drop to last in Group F on 1 point.

United are level with Young Boys on 3 points, 1 less than leaders Atalanta.

Improbably, Juventus are top of Group H with 6 points after a solid 1-0 victory against Chelsea.

The Bianconeri ceded the ball to the Blues – 74 percent possession – but held Thomas Tuchel’s squad to just one shot on target and Federico Chiesa’s goal in the opening seconds of the second half turned out to be enough.

Chelsea, with 3 points, are second in the group on a better goal difference than Zenit St. Petersburg. Malmö, who remain without a point, are last. EFE


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