Juventus on Wednesday launched their UEFA Champions League campaign with a 2-0 victory at Valencia in a match overshadowed by a controversial red card for Cristiano Ronaldo, while tournament favorites Manchester City were stunned at home by Olympique Lyonnais.
Ronaldo’s Champions League debut for Juventus lasted less than half an hour, as the Portuguese star was red-carded after a collision with Valencia defender Jeison Murillo.
After tangling with Ronaldo, Colombian Murillo tumbled to the ground holding his face, and referee Felix Brych consulted with the assistant official beside the goal before giving the competition’s all-time record goalscorer his marching orders.
“The only thing I can say is that VAR [video assistant referee] could have helped the referee make the right decision,” Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri said, lamenting the lack of the video technology in UEFA tournaments. “It is very disappointing, we almost lost because of that and we will be without Ronaldo for the next [match].”
However, Juventus, who had totally dominated until Ronaldo’s dismissal, were awarded two penalties within six minutes either side of halftime, and Miralem Pjanic confidently dispatched them both.
The Italian champions defended well thereafter to keep the hosts at arm’s length, although Juve goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny did save a Daniel Parejo spot-kick in the final minute of injury-time.
Manchester United topped the early Group H table after continuing their recent upturn in form by brushing aside Young Boys 3-0 in Bern to notch a third straight win in all competitions.
Jose Mourinho’s men were inspired by Paul Pogba on the artificial pitch, as the French FIFA World Cup winner drilled home a brilliant opener before converting a penalty on the stroke of halftime and set up Anthony Martial for the third.
However, English champions Manchester City struggled, with Pep Guardiola watching from the stands after a touchline ban, and were beaten 2-1 by French side Lyon at the Etihad Stadium after an error-strewn display.
City, the bookmakers’ favorites for the title this term, suffered a nightmare first half against an enterprising Lyon, with Maxwel Cornet sweeping in after a mistake by Fabian Delph and Nabil Fekir drilling home before halftime.
The introduction of Sergio Aguero as a substitute revitalized City after the break, and Bernardo Silva turned in Leroy Sane’s cutback with 23 minutes still to play.
However, Lyon, who have won only two of their first five Ligue 1 matches this term, held on to clinch a famous victory and ease the pressure on coach Bruno Genesio.
“We saw two very different halves. We conceded many counterattacks and at this level you get punished,” said City assistant coach Mikel Arteta, who was filling in for Guardiola. “If you give cheap goals away it is difficult.”
In the other Group F game earlier on Wednesday, Brazilian youngster Maycon came off the bench to rescue Shakhtar Donetsk in a 2-2 draw against group-stage debutants TSG 1899 Hoffenheim in Kharkiv, Ukraine.
Holders Real Madrid showed that they are still serious contenders on the biggest stage, despite seeing Ronaldo leave for Juventus in the close-season, as Julen Lopetegui’s men saw off AS Roma 3-0 at the Santiago Bernabeu.
Isco curled home a sumptuous 45th-minute free-kick to give the 13-time champions the lead, before Gareth Bale made it three goals in two Champions League matches after his spectacular double in May’s final triumph over Liverpool.
Mariano Diaz, making his second debut for Real after rejoining from Lyon last month, smashed home a fantastic third in added time.
“I thought the performance was very good tonight; the only disappointment was that we didn’t score more,” Bale said.
Real next travel to CSKA Moscow on Oct. 2, after the Russians came back from two goals down to salvage a 2-2 draw at Viktoria Plzen, with Everton loanee Nikola Vlasic scoring an injury-time penalty.
Five-time champions Bayern Munich got their Group E campaign off to a solid start as Niko Kovac’s men eased to a 2-0 triumph against Benfica in Lisbon, with Robert Lewandowski and Renato Sanches scoring the goals.
Ajax cruised to a 3-0 victory over AEK Athens in Amsterdam earlier in the day to sit atop the early standings, with Argentine Nicolas Tagliafico scoring twice.
Chen Jifang hits the gym for at least two hours every day and has the physique to prove it. At nearly 70, she is being held up as a shining example as China orders its vast population to get fit and lose the bulge. The grandmother from Shanghai has become a minor celebrity in in the past few months after her newfound and unlikely love for working out made national headlines. After becoming a gym regular in December 2018, Chen lost 14kg in three months, and now sports the kind of flat stomach and toned muscles that people decades younger aspire to. She
’SO CONSISTENT’: The victory gave the world No. 1 and world No. 2 a 21-1 win-loss record and their fourth title of the season after successes in Brisbane, Dubai and Doha Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-wei and Barbora Strycova of the Czech Republic on Sunday cruised to their fourth women’s doubles title of the season at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome in their first tournament back since the suspension of the WTA Tour due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The top seeds took just 63 minutes to complete a comprehensive 6-2, 6-2 victory over unseeded German-Romanian duo Anna-Lena Friedsam and Raluca Olaru at the Foro Italico. It was the Taiwanese-Czech pairing’s first outing since they won the Qatar Open in February. “After five months, you don’t know what to expect,” Strycova told the WTA Web site.
‘GREAT EVENING‘: In the women’s singles in Rome, Simona Halep and Karolina Pliskova advanced, while Rafael Nadal swept into the quarters in the men’s singles Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-wei and Barbora Strycova of the Czech Republic on Friday had to dig deep to advance to the semi-finals of the women’s doubles at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome. The top seeds, who did not drop a game in their opening match on the clay courts at the Foro Italico, battled to a 7-6 (7/5), 6-4 victory over sixth seeds Veronika Kudermetova and Katerina Siniakova in 1 hour, 39 minutes. The reigning Wimbledon champions saved nine of 11 break points and converted three of eight, winning 56 percent of points on their second serve and sending down two aces
ANOTHER SCANDAL: Searches focused on several riders, including Dayer Quintana, a source said, while the two being held were reportedly a doctor and physiotherapist French police on Monday detained two people as part of an investigation into suspected doping in the Arkea-Samsic team at this year’s Tour de France, prosecutors announced. The probe is the first significant one in several years for the repeatedly scandal-hit tour, which on Sunday wrapped up in Paris with a victory for 21-year-old Tadej Pogacar, who became the youngest winner in more than a century. Prosecutor Dominique Laurens in Marseille said in a statement that an investigation was being carried out into a “small part” of France-based Arkea-Samsic, without specifying who had been placed in custody. Laurens added that the two