Champions League football returned Tuesday, and there was no shortage of storylines.
Ryan Babel’s rebirth as a star at Besiktas continued as the former Liverpoolfailure opened the scoring in a 2-0 victory over RB Leipzig, and Porto’s Cameroonian AFCON hero Vincent Aboubakar continued a volcanic-hot start to the year with a brace in a shocking 3-0 win at Ligue 1 holder Monaco.
Here’s a look at three major talking points following Tuesday’s matches:
Liverpool’s dirty laundry
Much has been made of Liverpool’s back-line this season in light of the club’s failure to secure the signing of Southampton aerial savant Virgil van Dijk.
When it comes to keeping clean sheets, the keeper and defenders share the blame, and on Tuesday at Spartak Moscow, Liverpool’s failure to keep the Russians off the board proved to be decisive in the end.
Related: Coutinho scores but Liverpool held in Moscow
Philippe Coutinho and Sadio Mane appeared lethal combining on the wing and Jurgen Klopp’s lot dominated the match, but it wasn’t enough after Fernando’s deftly deposited free-kick finish in the 23rd minute gave the host a one-goal advantage.
What in the world is Reds’ shot-stopper Loris Karius thinking here?
Liverpool has now kept just a pair of clean sheets in 11 matches in all competitions, and after being handed arguably the most straightforward group draw of any of the five Premier League sides, the Merseyside men sit tied for second with Spartak on two points, two points adrift of Sevilla.
Harry Kane: Travelling man
Who needs home form when you’ve got Harry Kane? After kicking-off the league campaign with two draws and a defeat at temporary London digs Wembley Stadium, much has been made of Spurs’ Jekyll & Hyde routine in the English capital after going unbeaten at White Hart Lane a year ago.
Mauricio Pochettino’s lot did fare better against Borussia Dortmund during Tottenham’s Champions League group stage opener courtesy of some puzzling work from the linesman, and on Tuesday, Kane sent a clear message: home cooking is overrated.
The twice-defending Premier League Golden Boot winner scored in the opening stanza at Apoel and twice after the break, giving him fourteen goals in his last six away matches across all competitions.
That gives Kane 33 tallies in his last 30 matches in all competitions for Spurs in the calendar year, and the Three Lions’ stalwart joins Liverpool legend Steven Gerrard as the only Englishmen to score in four consecutive Champions League matches. He also joins Cristiano Ronaldo and Filippo Inzaghi as the only players to score five times in the first two matches of a Champions League campaign.
Ronaldo’s Bundesliga boost
For Cristiano Ronaldo, Tuesday’s trip to Borussia Dortmund marked a milestone of sorts for the Real Madrid talisman. The stately Portuguese goal monger racked up his 400th Los Blancos appearance in all competitions and 150th Champions League outing, good enough for joint-eighth all-time.
Tuesday’s fixture also marked an opportunity for Ronaldo to overcome an uncharacteristically sluggish start to his campaign, and for the Real star, there’s no better competition to do it against than a German side.
Ronaldo’s first-half goal was followed by another one ten minutes from time to give him 25 tallies in 20 matches against Bundesliga foes, and 94 goals for the La Liga behemoth in 90 matches along with 31 assists. He now has 14 Champions League goals in the calendar year. Decent player that.