The third Matchday of this season’s UEFA Champions League kicked off on Tuesday with the storied likes of past champions Manchester United, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, PSV, Benfica and Inter Milan all in action.
Here are the five biggest takeaways.
Harry Maguire and André Onana rescue Manchester Untied
Two of the most scrutinized players among Red Devils fans — central defender Harry Maguire and goalkeeper André Onana — came to the rescue for their team from during yet another unconvincing Champions League performance at Old Trafford.
United desperately needed all three points Tuesday against visiting FC Copenhagen after losing its first two tournament matches, including at home to Turkey’s Galatasaray earlier this month. But the Danes were more than up to the challenge, standing toe-to-to with their more decorated opponent for more than 70 minutes. But with the prospect of another unacceptable result looming, Maguire headed home what turned out to be the eventual game-winner.
But it wouldn’t have been if not for Onana, who had suffered through a dreadful start to his career in England following his almost $60 million summer transfer from Inter Milan: Onana saved a Copenhagen penalty deep into second half stoppage time to preserve victory for the hosts:
It was a colossal stop for several reasons. First, it keeps Erik ten Hag’s team’s chances of reaching the knockout stage of the competition realistic, plus gives them some badly needed momentum: The coach is surely hoping United can ride into Sunday’s derby match against crosstown rival (and defending Premier League and European champ) Manchester City. Second, it should help restore the shaken confidence of Onana, who has been beset by a series of high-profile errors this season.
This match will be looked back on as an inflection point should the Red Devils turn their season around. And their supporters will have Maguire and Onana to thank.
Real Madrid survives a scare, handles business in Braga
Of course Europe’s most successful club is still perfect after three Champions League games. Of course Jude Bellingham, the 20-year-old Englishman who could be the best player on the planet on current form, had the decisive strike in the second half:
But the wholly predicable outcome doesn’t tell the whole story of this match. The Portuguese hosts gave Real all it could handle at times as they chased the match from the 16th minute, when Brazilian attacker Rodrygo gave the visitors the lead. Bellingham’s insurance strike didn’t arrive until after the hour mark.
Almost immediately Braga pulled one back, though, making for an intriguing final half hour and a much less comfortable victory than Real’s spot atop the standings would suggest.
Arsenal looks like a legit contender in Seville
Much has been made of the Gunners’ return to soccer’s most prestigious and important club competition this year following a six season hiatus.
On Tuesday, manager Mikel Arteta’s team continued to show that it has the roster to contend for honors on both the English and European fronts this season by beating Sevilla in Spain — the first away win for Arsenal in the Champions League since 2016.
Gabriel Martinelli opened the guests’ account just before halftime. Gabriel Jesus then scored on a postage stamp of a goal after the intermission. That strike — his third in as many Champions League games this term — stood up as the difference in the Gunners’ 2-1 triumph.
Bayern Munich and Inter Milan both roll
Bayern is a perfect 3-0 after an impressive 3-1 win over Galatasaray at Istanbul’s 53,000-seat RAMS Park — one of the most intimating venues for away teams on the entire continent.
But like Real’s win in Braga, this contest was closer than it looks. The teams were knotted at 1-1 until — who else? — Harry Kane scored to make it 2-1 with less than 20 minutes left:
It was Kane’s 11th tally in 12 appearances across all competitions for Bayern Munich since joining the German champions from Tottenham Hotspur in August. Youngster Jamal Musiala provided some breathing room by adding the third goal for the visitors a short time later. This was the 16th (!) consecutive group stage win for Bayern, which is chasing its seventh continental title and first since 2020.
In the other match that kicked off early Tuesday, 2023 runner-up Inter scored on a second half penalty kick to take all the spoils in Salzburg. Veteran forward Alexis Sanchez, who spent last season at Marseille before returning to the Nerazzurri, had the opener:
Goal difference is now all that separates Inter from Spain’s Real Sociedad, which lost to Portuguese titan Benfica Tuesday, atop of Group D.
Union Berlin’s losing streak gets uglier
Nothing is going Union’s way in its maiden Champions League campaign. After hanging tough aganst record 14-time European champ Real Madrid in its debut before losing on a late Bellingham goal, the Germans blew a late lead at home to Braga in their second outing and dropped that match, too.
Tuesday was more of the same. Away to Italian Scudetto holder Napoli, Union again probably deserved better than they got. And what they again got was nothing despite badly outshooting the hosts. But home keeper Alex Meret stopped both of the visitors on-target attempts, and Giacomo Raspadori got the only goal of the game. As he did against Braga, American Brenden Aaronson — who went 70 minutes in his first Champions League start for the Berliners — missed a golden scoring chance in the second half.
Union has now lost its last nine matches in the Bundesliga and Champions League combined.
Doug McIntyre is a soccer writer for FOX Sports. Before joining FOX Sports in 2021, he was a staff writer with ESPN and Yahoo Sports and he has covered United States men’s and women’s national teams at multiple FIFA World Cups. Follow him on Twitter @ByDougMcIntyre.
CHAMPIONS LEAGUE trending
Get more from UEFA Champions League Follow your favorites to get information about games, news and more