GENEVA (WNN) – While Cristiano Ronaldo is maintaining his record-setting Champions League level to the end, Barcelona have become barely recognizable as a European power.
Ronaldo struck deep in stoppage time and left Manchester United behind with a 2–1 win over Villarreal – his record 136th goal in a new competition-best 178th game.
That goal moved United from the bottom of Group F as five-time European champions Barcelona finished last in Group E with another 3–0 defeat.
Barcelona finished with 10 men in a humble defeat at Benfica, two weeks after Bayern Munich were torn apart at home.
Bayern clear the group after beating Dynamo Kiev 5-0, with Robert Lewandowski scoring twice in the first half for the 2020 champions.
Title holders Chelsea suffered a 1-0 loss to Juventus after being caught in the cold with a goal nearly 12 seconds into the second half.
Atalanta won 1–0 against the Young Boys at their home in Italy, and also led their group one point ahead of United before their next meeting at Old Trafford on 20 October.
ronaldo, late and great
United were having another tough evening in this Champions League campaign where the underdogs are thriving.
Villarreal took the lead in the 53rd minute with a goal from Paco Alcácer in a rematch of the Europa League final in May, which was won by the Spanish club.
United got a fine leveler in the 60th when defender Alex Telles hit a walled shot off Bruno Fernandes.
It was a goal after five minutes of stoppage time that helped United beat the Young Boys 2–1 two weeks earlier. This time the target went its own way.
Ronaldo took the ball back from substitute Jesse Lingard in the penalty area and fired it before running off to celebrate shirtless with a frenzied crowd, including longtime fan Usain Bolt.
This was Ronaldo’s fifth goal in five matches at the club after losing to Barcelona in the 2009 final.
Barcelona has lost that aura before letting Lionel Messi go to join Paris Saint-Germain last month.
“It doesn’t make sense to compare it to Barcelona’s teams of years,” said coach Ronald Koeman, who scored the goal that led the club to its first European title in 1992. “It’s as clear as water.”
Benfica had not beaten Barcelona in six attempts since winning the 1961 final and led under three minutes through Darwin Nez. The Uruguay forward struck a shot at the post before scoring a penalty in the 79th. Rafa Silva made it 2-0 in the 69th match.
Barcelona defender Eric Garcia was sent off in the closing minutes for the second yellow card.
Italy’s race for the European Championship title in the summer was driven by key goals from Juventus’ Federico Chiesa and Atalanta’s Matteo Pessina.
Both were aiming for a 1-0 win over their table top teams on Wednesday.
Chesa broke Chelsea’s defense almost immediately after the start of the second half, and Pessina attacked in the middle of the second half to defeat the Young Boys.
Juventus’ second victory extended a three-point lead over Zenit St Petersburg, who beat Malmö 4–0 in one of the opening kickoffs.
The Russian champion was already two goals ahead in the 53rd when Malmö defender Anel Ahmedhodzik was sent off for a handball.
Group G is awarded to all penalty kicks. lots of them.
Salzburg are on top when Karim Adeyemi made both his spot kicks in a 2-1 home win against Lille.
Germany forward Ademi, 19, missed one of Salzburg’s three penalties in a 1-1 draw against Sevilla two weeks ago.
Sevilla drew 1-1 again at Wolfsburg on Wednesday, and again relied on a converted penalty by Croatian veteran Ivan Rakitic.
Rakitic scored in the 86th – after Wolfsburg midfielder Joshua Guillvogue was sent off for a foul – to level the 49th-minute opener from Renato Stefan.
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