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Champions League: Cristiano Ronaldo and Paul Pogba made the headlines across Europe
Following Liverpool’s thrilling 3-2 win over Paris Saint-Germain and Inter Milan’s stunning 2-1 comeback against Tottenham on Tuesday, tonight’s matches had a lot to live up to.
But Cristiano Ronaldo, Manchester United and Manchester City certainly gave it their best shot.
While Real Madrid began the defence of their European title in the capital with a 3-0 win over Roma, all eyes were on Valencia as Ronaldo began his own quest for a fourth successive title with Juventus as the Serie A champions recorded a 2-0 victory.
But his night lasted just 29 minutes after he was given a straight red card for an off-the-ball incident involving Jeison Murillo.
Ronaldo appeared to pull the hair of the La Liga defender and consequently left the pitch in tears.
The straight red card means the 33-year-old will miss Juventus’ second group stage game at home to Young Boys, but he is also now expected to miss the reunion against United on October 23.
However, the Portuguese will likely appeal the decision to have his red card rescinded – and BT Sport pundit Rio Ferdinand has backed him to do so in order to seal a return to his former stomping ground.
“It’s hard to see,” Ferdinand said.
Champions League: Cristiano Ronaldo received a straight red card against Valencia
Champions League: Cristiano Ronaldo left the pitch in tears after his sending off
“I’m sure that Cristiano and Juventus will appeal that.
“With the emotion you can see coming out here, he’s going back to Old Trafford, he’ll miss that game.
“He wants to play football, you can see that.”
Juve boss Massimiliano Allegri condemned the decision to send his talisman off, while defender Leonardo Bonucci dismissed Ronaldo’s actions of being worthy of a red card.
Going down to 10 men in the Champions League for an incident like that is disappointing.
“I can only say that VAR would’ve helped the referee in this decision,” Allegri said.
“Going down to 10 men in the Champions League for an incident like that is disappointing.
“We risked losing tonight with this and we’ll miss him for the next games too.”
“As far as I could see, it was a pretty normal clash,” Bonucci added.
“Murillo put his hands on Ronaldo first, he reacted, but these things can happen and we must be stronger than everyone and everything.
“Ronaldo was angry, of course.
“The referee saw what he saw – not very well – and we overcame the obstacles.
“We must continue being a team and personally I’ll keep trying to give my best on the field and off it.”
Meanwhile, United’s Champions League group stage got off to a flier in Switzerland against Young Boys as a Paul Pogba brace and an Anthony Martial goal sent them on their way to a comfortable 3-0 win.
Jose Mourinho’s initial concerns about playing on an artificial pitch proved to make little difference to the Red Devils with Pogba playing a starring role.
Champions League: Paul Pogba and Anthony Martial both bagged goals for the Red Devils
Champions League: Paul Pogba scored his second goal from the penalty spot for Manchester United
And the Portuguese boss was clearly delighted to be taking the three points back home with him.
“Job done,” he said. “Not phenomenal, but good enough. A difficult start, but then after the first goal the game was under control.
“Now I can say, I don’t understand how you can play the best club competition on artificial pitch.”
Back in Manchester, Pep Guardiola’s City were handed a shock defeat to Lyon as Maxwel Cornet and Nabil Fekir grabbed the goals.
With Guardiala serving a touchline ban for his conduct in last season’s European clash with Liverpool, Mikel Arteta took charge with the former Barcelona boss watching on from the stands.
Champions League: Nabil Fekir put in a stunning display at the Etihad
Champions League: Bernardo Silva scored Manchester City’s only goal of the evening
A 2-1 defeat for the Premier League champions will come as a big wake up call to Guardiola’s men, who had been tipped as the favourites to dominate in Europe prior to kick-off.
Bernardo Silva’s second half-goal proved futile as the Ligue 1 side escaped the Etihad with maximum points.
The Portuguese goalscorer downplayed City being branded favourites after the defeat however.
“We have to focus on a poor first half when we weren’t at our best,” he said.
Champions League: Robert Lewandowski netted in a 2-0 win over Benfica
“We didn’t play with our usual intensity. We were not good enough tonight. It is what it is. We have to go after the next game.
“We are not favourites. We have a god team and will try to do better than last season.”
Elsewhere, Viktoria Plzen beat CSKA Moscow 2-1, while Robert Lewandowski and Renato Sanches both netted in Bayern Munich’s 2-0 win over Benfica.
In the earlier matches, Ajax recorded a 3-0 win over AEK Athens as Shakhtar Donetsk came from behind twice to draw with Hoffenheim.