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2021/22 UEFA Champions League Matchday 1 Review: Unlikely Haller & Nkunku takes centre-stage as CR7, Messi fail to shine

New Ajax striker, Sebastien Haller scored 4 goals against Sporting Lisbon while Christopher Nkunku scored 3 against Manchester City. Lionel Messi failed to score against Club Brugge while Cristiano Ronaldo's Manchester United lost to Young Boys despite scoring 1 goal. A full review of Matchday 1 of the 2021/22 UEFA Champions League season.

2021/22 UEFA Champions League Matchday 1 Review: Unlikely Haller & Nkunku takes centre-stage as CR7, Messi fail to shine

Matchday 1 of the 2021/22 UEFA Champions League season came with a bang and lived up to expectations as it was exciting and full of goals. Only that the excitement was not always in the matches we expected. There was an unlikely outstanding player of the round, Ivorian Sebastien Haller of Ajax, who scored 4 goals in the obliteration of Sporting Lisbon. While customary culprits, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo were not guilty of lighting up the UEFA Champions League this week. The German duo of Robert Lewandowski and Erling Haaland also had respectable outings scoring 2 and 1 goals respectively while defending champions, Chelsea, took a slim 1-0 victory to edge Zenit Saint Petersburg at Stamford Bridge. 

The UEFA Champions League is back and this time with fully-packed stadiums as fans made their way to the stands after two seasons of largely watching the competition from home. Perhaps it might be Liverpool's year again as the Anfield crowd egged them on to a pulsating 3-2 victory over AC Milan. Thomas Tuchel's Chelsea also got off their title defence with a 1-0 victory over Zenit Saint Petersburg courtesy of a Romelu Lukaku header. Last season's beaten finalists, Manchester City, came out tops in a 9-goal thriller against RB Leipzig. Christopher Nkunku finding the net 3 times against a centre-back pairing of Ruben Dias and Nathan Ake. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's Manchester United threw away a 1-0 lead to lose 2-1 away at Young Boys after Aaron Wan-Bissaka was red-carded in the 35th minute. 

Cristiano Ronaldo would not go on to enjoy his return to the Champions League with Manchester United despite opening the scoring. The record 5-time winner of the competition got on the end of a Bruno Fernandes weighted cross to finish past the Swiss champions goalkeeper in just the 13th minute of the match. The Portuguese forward's outing was cut short in the 72nd minute as he was substituted along with his goal provider, Bruno Fernandes. 

Lionel Messi also made his UEFA Champions League debut for Paris Saint-Germain but was largely ineffective and uncharacteristically wasteful in front of goal. The 6-time Ballon d'Or winner teamed up with Neymar and Kylian Mbappe for the first time but the sparks failed to go off in a muted performance by the deadly front 3. Former Manchester United midfielder, Ander Herrera was the saviour of the Parisians, netting his 3rd goal in 2 matches to put Mauricio Pochettino's side ahead. They would be pegged back by a Hans Vanaken goal that saw the match end in a 1-1 draw. 

In the best individual performance of Matchday 1 action, Sebastien Haller showed his ruthlessness in front of goal as he put 4 past Antonio Adan in the Sporting Lisbon goalpost. His quick-fire first-half brace (2nd and 9th minute) put Ajax ahead in the match while another brace in the second half (51st and 63rd minute) killed off the game at 5-1. Haller automatically jumps to No 1 on the top-scorer list for this season, followed by RB Leipzig's Christopher Nkunku on 3 goals. Robert Lewandowski takes 3rd place with his 2-goal haul against FC Barcelona. Matchday 2 of the UEFA Champions League comes along on September 28th and 29th, 2021.

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