Nabil Fekir worked his magic as Lyon shocked English champions Manchester City with a 2-1 loss in their Champions League-opener.
The Frenchman crossed for Maxwel Cornet to open the scoring in the 26th minute, before rifling home a second two minutes before the break.
Bernardo Silva pulled one back in the 67th minute after Leroy Sane had skipped past two players to set him up. But it was only a consolation, as Mikel Arteta tasted defeat as he stepped into the managerial hot seat.
The banned Pep Guardiola cut a frustrated figure as he watched from the stands and so did Arteta as City were punished by a stronger, slicker opposition and gifted Lyon their goals.
First, Fernandinho misplaced a pass and Fekir broke on the left. His cross was delivered with power and pace and Fabian Delph missed the attempted clearance with a horrible swing and there was Cornet to steer a finish into the corner.
City thought they had levelled in the 32nd minute, but Sterling was flagged offside, a tight call, as Ilkay Gundogan stroked a shot past Anthony Lopes.
The Lyon keeper then saved well from Delph in the corner before Rafael Da Silva, the former Manchester United full-back, was relieved not to concede a penalty when he challenged Gabriel Jesus in the box.
The Brazil striker was furious and so were City when Lyon claimed a second. Fernandinho was again culpable when caught in possession by Fekir and the flamboyant frontman collected a return pass from Memphis Depay and fired into the corner.
Dutchman Depay struck the post before Bernardo sparked City with his sweeping finish. Aguero, though, was denied late by Lopes and City suffered their first defeat at Etihad Stadium in the group stage since 2015.
They might have had a difficult start to their Ligue 1-campaign, but there is a buzz about this Lyon side.
This display in Group F showed why, particularly the young talent now able to show their qualities on a bigger stage – and to a wider audience.
Tanguy Ndombele and Houssem Aouar may be familiar to Football Manager fans having been described as ‘wonderkids’, and the reality looks to be the same.
Ndombele is 21, like his midfield partner Pape Cheikh Diop, and the pair hustled and harried more experienced counterparts into mistakes. But the duo were not just enforcers and Ndombele’s ball to Depay, which he fired against the post, was sublime.
Aouar, at 19, was busy and beguiling on the left along with Maxwel Cornet, 21, on the opposite flank.
With Fekir, 25, leading this pack of young Lyons, they can only get better and serve a small reminder of Monaco’s fine side that reached the semis in 2017.
ARTETA’S TOUGH TEST
With Guardiola serving a touchline ban after his sending-off in last season’s loss to Liverpool, this was Arteta’s moment in the spotlight.
He spoke well before the game, but talk is cheap. These are the occasions where he can demonstrate his own managerial credentials and stamp his own mark on the side.
With Guardiola putting his feet up and watching from a box in the stand, Arteta was far less animated on the sideline than the Catalan usually is.
Arteta was somewhat passive, studious, but his players did not pass this tough test and nor did he. How much input he had in the team selection may not be known, but it was clear he should have started with Leroy Sane on the wing instead of having an extra midfielder in Ilkay Gundogan and wasting Bernardo Silva on the right.
The Portuguese was isolated out wide and only made an impression when moved centrally and linked with Sane to score. At two-goals down, he might also have sacrificed a defender and gambled on two up front in Jesus and Sergio Aguero.
It’s the sort of thing Pep would do – and maybe why he’s so special.
How Manchester City were made favourites by bookmakers to win the Champions League remains a surprise – and concern.
Their odds will no doubt lengthen after this loss, but they should never have been in that position in the first place.
Yes they are in a group from which they should qualify, but they are not the City of last season yet when they broke records in devastating fashion.
Nor will they be until Kevin De Bruyne returns from his knee injury. The brilliant Belgian is the catalyst for this team’s classiest performances – and the difference between them lifting trophies or coming close.
City’s midfield was often found wanting under pressure from Lyon and unable to provide Gabriel Jesus with opportunities and options in attack. This is where De Bruyne’s absence was felt.
The pressure is on City to win the Champions League. It is the trophy craved by the Abu Dhabi-ownership and so too Guardiola.
But the players need to embrace the burden of expectation rather than be fearful of it.
Isco’s perfect free-kick just before the break put the hosts ahead after a dominant opening in which the Spain playmaker, international colleague Dani Carvajal and Wales forward Gareth Bale all spurned other presentable chances.
Bale made amends before the hour mark as he charged onto Croatia superstar Luka Modric’s divine pass and found the bottom corner. Substitute Mariano – wearing departed Portugal icon Cristiano Ronaldo’s No7 shirt – then powered in from the edge of the penalty box in injury-time to notch a stunning first goal since being bought back from Lyon last month.
Roma barely threatened in this Group G-contest at Santiago Bernabeu. Czech Republic attacker Patrik Schick blazed their best chance over during a rare second-half counter-attack.
Here are the player ratings for new head coach Julen Lopetegui’s charges:
REAL MADRID (4-3-3)
Keylor Navas – 6: Costa Rica goalkeeper had a quiet night upon his return to the XI, after losing his place to Thibaut Courtois in La Liga. Made a sharp, low save from Serbia left-back Aleksandar Kolarov just past the hour mark.
Dani Carvajal – 7: The Spain right-back provided a constant attacking presence. Really should have put hosts ahead on 18 minutes, but missed from close range.
Raphael Varane – 6: Easy as you like for the France international against the chance-starved Edin Dzeko.
Sergio Ramos – 7: Given the freedom to showcase his attacking prowess. Was one of several players to force a save from outstanding Sweden No1.
Luka Modric – 8: The UEFA Player of the Year was a delight to behold. Played Isco through in a tight spot for Madrid’s earliest chance and then conjured a pass of rare aplomb to send Bale into the clear for his goal.
Casemiro – 6: The Brazil holder was back in the starting side after missing out on the weekend’s 1-1 draw at Athletic Bilbao. Snubbed out any Roma threats at the source.
Toni Kroos – 7: Understated brilliance from the Germany centre midfielder, who has started this season far better than the last one.
Gareth Bale – 7: The Wales forward’s goal exemplified his many qualities. Anticipated Modric’s cutting pass, burned past Roma’s high defensive line to reach the ball and then punishingly found the bottom corner. That’s now five goals in six games this term for Ronaldo’s replacement.
Karim Benzema – 6: The revitalised ex-France striker was taken off in the second half, but this was no reflection on his display. Is revelling in this more-fluid Madrid of new head coach Julen Lopetegui.
Isco – 8: His free-kick just before the interval dipped delightfully into Olsen’s goal. Really should have put Madrid ahead on eight minutes, but chance was smothered by the on-rushing Olsen. Popped up on the flank and through the middle, constantly evading his Roma markers. Inheriting set-piece duties from Ronaldo is working out well.
4 - Real Madrid players with the most direct free-kick attempts and goals in 2018 (all comps):— OptaJose (@OptaJose) September 19, 2018
1 - Cristiano Ronaldo: 9/0
2 - Gareth Bale: 6/0
3 - Marco Asensio: 5/0
4 - ISCO ALARCON: 4/2
Marco Asensio – 7: Denied a world-class goal by a world-class save by Olsen. His pirouette took out two Roma defenders in the penalty box, only for his no-look shot to be blocked by the goalkeeper’s legs.
Mariano – 7: What a goal. Striker cut inside from 20 yards and rifled a curled effort into the top corner.
Dani Ceballos – N/A: New Spain midfielder was given little time to impress.
Inter Milan produced a stirring comeback to stun Tottenham in their Champions League opener on Tuesday, winning 2-1 thanks to two late goals. Spurs took the lead early in the second half and looked like they were cruising to victory, only for Inter captain Mauro Icardi to inspire a turnaround with a sumptuous equaliser.
Here’s a look at how the players rated.
Samir Handanovic 8 – Never had to pull off anything spectacular, but time and again the Inter keeper denied Spurs a goal just through his positioning and reading of the game.
Milan Skriniar 6 – Playing out of position at right-back, Skriniar acquitted himself decently, though there were times he looked exactly like a man playing in a new position would.
Stefan de Vrij 7 – Was a tower at the back, handling most of Spurs’ attacks, and played a vital part in Inter’s winner, showing his aerial prowess again as he won the initial header from a corner.
Miranda 6 – A solid performance from the Brazilian, who looked his usual combative but classy self. Dealt with the threat of Kane well.
Kwadwo Asamoah 6 – Delivered the cross for Icardi’s stunning equaliser, one of his few telling contributions in attack. Enjoyed a good battle with Spurs right-back Serge Aurier.
Matias Vecino 7 – How vital was that goal? Not only did it steal a win, it may have kick-started a season that has begun disappointingly for Inter. Vecino had struggled to have an impact all game long, but he had the most decisive one.
Marcelo Brozovic 6 – An up and down game from the Croat, who at times looked dominant in midfield and at others, struggles. His more ambitious passes didn’t come off, but he acquitted himself well otherwise.
Matteo Politano 6 – For a large part of the game, he looked like Inter’s most threatening player in attack, though his final ball was lacking at times.
Radja Nainggolan 4 – A shocking game from the Belgian. Nainggolan was one of the headline recruits of the summer, brought in for games like this, yet he had virtually no influence on proceedings.
Ivan Perisic 5 – Not one of the Croatian’s better days. Most of what he tried didn’t quite come off, though as always, his work rate was faultless.
Mauro Icardi 7 – For the longest time, Icardi didn’t have a sniff of goal. Then he did, finally, and scored an absolute cracker to spark a famous comeback.
Antonio Candreva 5 – Brought on to spark Inter’s attack into life, but often ended up achieving the exact opposite – his side’s attacks were often killed once Candreva got on the ball.
Keita Balde 5 – Failed to add anything to Inter’s attack after coming on.
Borja Valero N/A – Brought on as a late substitute for the disappointing Nainggolan.
Michel Vorm 7 – Pulled off a couple of excellent saves, and despite a shaky moment or two he looked much more solid than he had at the weekend against Liverpool.
Serge Aurier 7 – Combative in defence and had one of his better days as an attacker, an area of his game that blows hot and cold.
Jan Vertonghen 7 – Not at his most elegant, but still effective in defence for Spurs. He’ll be disappointed with the way he and his defence let a lead slip.
Davinson Sanchez 6 – Had a solid game ruined by the ending, when he was beaten by De Vrij for Inter’s winning goal.
Ben Davies 6 – Wasn’t as effective in attack as he would have liked to be, though he caused the out-of-position Skriniar a few scares.
Mousa Dembele 7 – Dominant in midfield and as always, retained possession with some excellent control and dribbling ability. Helped Spurs control the game for a good period of the game, which makes the result more galling.
Eric Dier 6 – Was a big factor in how Tottenham controlled the game for a good part of the first 85 minutes, though his attacking contribution was lacking.
Erik Lamela 6 – Missed a couple of chances to make it 2-0 and kill the game, but he couldn’t beat Handanovic in goal or find the right pass when it counted.
Christian Eriksen 7 – Not a vintage goal but still an example of what Eriksen brings with his shooting ability. His inventiveness and control was much better than it was against Liverpool on Saturday.
Son Heung-min 6 – Offered his usual pace and work rate in attack, though not with as much incisiveness as he would have liked. It wasn’t a surprise that he was the first attacker taken off.
Harry Kane 5 – It’s officially time to worry about Kane. His confidence seems low, as shown when he passed up the best chance of the game by trying to go around Handanovic rather than shooting earlier.
Lucas Moura 6 – Looked lively after coming on, although he probably could have used the ball better in attack, missing a couple of chances to find a teammate when in a dangerous position.
Harry Winks 6 – Beaten by Vecino for the goal, though it’s hard to fault him – he was always going to be second-favourite against the much taller Uruguayan.
Danny Rose N/A – Came on with barely any time left to have an impact.