Not a truly great performance, granted, but three points, four goals and a clean sheet is not to be sniffed at any level. Two goals from Juan Mata, a free kick from ‘The Shaggy One’ and a tap in from Rami maybe made the score a little flattering but who cares.
With 54% possession and twice as many shots nobody can dispute that the Champions of Europe deserved to win this game and, with Juve only managing a draw at home to Shakhtar, it was a good night all round. RDM resisted the opportunity to make major changes but JT, Mikel and Hazard had a bit of a rest with a busy period of fixtures looming on the horizon. In truth we didn’t have to be at our best to win this one. Petr had to pull off a fine save with the score at 1-0, and our opposition looking to score on the breakaway, as we hunted a second goal. Nando had a couple of good chances to extend our lead and generally there was a slight air of complacency in the air. RDM said ‘We expected a difficult game and that’s exactly how it turned out to be’. He continued ‘We were a bit slow out of the blocks, even if we had chances to score. We scored one and had a couple of other chances’.
The second half performance was, in truth, a lot better than the first. We looked sharper and more incisive in the latter part of the game and once the second goal went in there was only ever going to be one winner. The plusses from the night were really all round the pitch. Moses looked lively, the defence looked resilient and Petr was calm and assured. This year’s tournament looks a lot more open with some of the smaller teams getting great results against the so called big boys (Bate beating Bayern being a prime example) and if we can get a consistency about our performances there is no reason why we can’t go all the way to the final again this season.
So to summarise, a good, but not great performance, an away victory, a clean sheet and four goals, a good evening which bodes well for our dream of retaining the trophy with the big ears.