PARIS: The two Manchester clubs enjoyed victories in a happier night for England in the Champions League on Wednesday (Thursday in Manila), while the individual performance of the evening came, not for the first time, from Cristiano Ronaldo.
Manchester United and City were made to work hard for 2-1 wins against German clubs Wolfsburg and Borussia Moenchengladbach respectively, 24 hours after Chelsea and Arsenal had both crashed to defeats.
Former United star Ronaldo, meanwhile, scored his 500th career goal and then equaled Raul Gonzalez Blanco’s club record tally of 323 goals for Real Madrid as the Spaniards won 2-0 against Malmo in Sweden.
Both Manchester sides were looking to bounce back from defeats in their opening Champions League group games two weeks ago and United got their campaign back on track in Group B, although only after falling behind.
Daniel Caligiuri put Wolfsburg in front after just five minutes at Old Trafford, but Juan Mata won and converted a penalty to pull United level before the break, and the Spaniard then produced a superb flick to set up Chris Smalling, who scored the winner early in the second half.
“It was very difficult because they scored so early,” United manager Louis van Gaal told BT Sport. “Then we did very well. We created a lot of chances. But we don’t finish it and it was a lucky penalty, I think.
“Then we score and after that it was suffering. We have to keep the ball better in the second half.”
The Premier League leaders now find themselves in a four-way tie on three points in Group B after CSKA Moscow defeated PSV Eindhoven 3-2 in Russia in the night’s other game.
PSV had beaten United in the Netherlands a fortnight ago but they were taken apart in the first half at the Arena Khimki, Ahmed Musa opening the scoring before Seydou Doumbia headed in a second and then scored a penalty.
Doumbia might have had a hat-trick, only to blaze another spot-kick over the bar, and PSV were given hope when Maxime Lestienne scored a second-half brace. However, CSKA held on as the visitors finished with 10 men after Santiago Arias was sent off.
Meanwhile, City had Sergio Aguero to thank for winning and then scoring a last-gasp penalty as they beat Gladbach 2-1 at Borussia-Park in Group D, securing a precious victory after they lost at home to Juventus in their first outing.
It was a happy ending to a difficult evening, with the Bundesliga side missing the chance to open the scoring in the first half when Raffael won a penalty only to see his kick saved by Joe Hart.
They did go in front through Lars Stindl nine minutes after the restart, but City equalised when a Nicolas Otamendi shot took a decisive deflection off Andreas Christensen before Aguero’s heroics.
It is Juventus who top the section, though, after Alvaro Morata and Simone Zaza netted to clinch a merited 2-0 win over Sevilla in Turin.
In Sweden, Mateo Kovacic and Isco combined to set up Ronaldo for the opener, his 500th career goal in 753 games, in the first half of Madrid’s clash with Malmo in Group A.
The hosts had Yoshimar Yotun sent off before Ronaldo made sure of the win at the death, and equalled Raul’s tally.
“Hopefully, he has no limits. I said he was unquestionable in the past and his merit is what he has done in far less time than the rest. That adds more value to what he has achieved,” said Madrid coach Rafa Benitez.
Paris Saint-Germain are level with Madrid on six points at the top of Group A after easing to a 3-0 victory over Shakhtar Donetsk in Ukraine, Serge Aurier and David Luiz netting in the first half before a Darijo Srna own goal late on put the seal on the win.
Meanwhile, Portuguese champions Benfica took control of Group C after coming from behind to beat Atletico Madrid 2-1, Nicolas Gaitan and Goncalo Guedes with their goals after Angel Correa put Atletico ahead.
Earlier, Astana claimed a first point in the competition as they drew 2-2 with Galatasaray in Kazakhstan.
Bilal Kisa and a Nenad Eric own-goal had the visitors ahead twice, but a Hakan Balta own-goal and a Roger Canas effort that was helped in by Lionel Carole gave Astana a draw.