Fabulous finishes, heroic comebacks and rockin’ Robben

Has Spain’s triumph at Euro 2008 inspired coaches to play attacking football? Or are defenders and goalkeepers seriously rubbish?

In truth, it’s a bit of both (and yes, two of the goals looked offside) but after a night in which 36 goals were scored in eight UEFA Champions League games, who’s complaining?

Group E

Villarreal coach Manuel Pellegrini’s beautifully judged verdict on his side’s 6-3 triumph over Aalborg was “It was a dark night defensively but I enjoyed the goals we scored.” 

His opponent Bruce Rioch was more exhilarated saying: “To come here, score three and concede six is amazing.” Joseba Llorente’s second half hat-trick took 17 minutes, eight minutes longer than Mike Newell took to score his treble against Rosenborg in 1995/96.

Llorente helps himself to hat-trick in 6-3 goal-fest

If Group E keeps going by the form book, Man United will need to win or draw 1-1 at the El Madrigal on matchday five to come top. The Yellow Submarine’s home record in the Champions League is Played 8, Won 4, Drawn 4 so United will have to be at their best to earn a point against a runner-up in the knockout stages.

And remember the last four winners of this tournament have all gone out in the last 16.

Group F

Home defeats against Bayern and Lyon mean that, with head-to-head coming into play if teams are level on points, Steaua are all but out of it.

Bayern look secure after beating Fiorentina 3-0. Viola coach Cesare Prandelli philosophically noted: “Mistakes are part of football. Otherwise every game would be 0-0.” Lyon have half a brilliant team – the attacking half – and have already salvaged four points with second-half comebacks and head to Florence on matchday five for a game that could decide their fate.

Schweinsteiger celebrates getting Bayern back on track

Group G

Arsenal emphatically ended Fenerbahce’s 15-game unbeaten run in Europe. Arsene Wenger was sufficiently cheered to drop his recent Grinch who stole Christmas persona in which he seemed to suggest that clubs buying players they couldn’t afford and Sunderland trying to stop his team winning were both somehow immoral.

It’s obviously going to be heaven (Sheffield United, Fener, the second half against Everton) or hell (Fulham, Hull, the first half against Everton) this season for the Gooners and nowt in between.

In Porto, the Hulk, deployed as a second-half striker, was less incredible than the free-kick by Olexandr Aliyev, a 33-yard belter that sealed Dynamo Kyiv’s first away win in the tournament in over four years.

Porto coach Jesualdo Ferreira complained that Dynamo only came to defend, playing the match like part of a two-legged cup tie, but he now needs his side to win away in Kyiv and Istanbul if they are to progress.

Walcott pops in No.2 of five Gunners goals in Turkey

Group H

Zenit St Petersburg’s profligate finishing cost them two more points against BATE, the Belarusian champions, Dick Advocaat grumbled: “I cannot score goals myself. I did when I was younger but not now.”

BATE striker Vitali Rodionov, who hit the frame of the goal from an absurd angle, looked especially useful. The Russian champions, with a point from three games, should be out of it, but a win in Borisov could change all that.

Juventus vs Real Madrid was a truly odd game. A makeshift bianconeri team won – the opening goal from Alessandro Del Piero was a stunner – but with so many injuries, it’s hard to tell how strong Claudio Ranieri’s team will be in the knockout stages.

Del Boy curls home stunning opener for Juve against Real 

In the battle of the talismanic veteran skippers, Del Piero outshone Raul who barely featured. Although all the talk was about a crisis at Juve, it was Real who, despite a late rally, looked out of sorts.

Arjen Robben was brilliant and, once again, left the pitch so immaculate he looked like the ‘after’ shot in a Daz advert. How does he do it?