Danny Welbeck answered former coach Louis van Gaal’s criticism in style on Wednesday, scoring a hat-trick in Arsenal’s 4-1 romp over Galatasaray in their Champions League group match while both Madrid clubs also recorded wins.
Welbeck, let go by van Gaal as the Manchester United handler considered his scoring record was not what it should be, became only the sixth Englishman to score a Champions League hat-trick, celebrating Arsene Wenger’s 18th anniversary in charge of the club in style.
“That instinct of a goalscorer in Danny Welbeck was more aggressive and he finished well,” Wenger said. “He has such good pace it gives him time to finish calmly. “We had good pace in all areas and overall the performance was good.”
Borussia Dortmund, who outclassed Arsenal in their opening game, top the group as they eased to a 3-0 win away at Anderlecht, Adrian Ramos scoring a double after Italian international Ciro Immobile had given them an early lead.
Holders Real were far from impressive in eking out a 2-1 win over Bulgarian minnows Ludogorets, Cristiano Ronaldo missing a penalty and having a goal disallowed before converting another opportunity from the penalty spot to take him to within three goals of overtaking Raul as the all-time leading scorer in the competition.
Frenchman Karim Benzema grabbed a late winner against their obdurate hosts, who had served warning of their resilience in coming within minutes of drawing away at Liverpool in the opening game.
Meanwhile, the English side’s poor start to the season continued as they went down 1-0 to Basel in Switzerland. Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers was left fuming by his team’s display.
Mario Balotelli put in an underwhelming performance up front and with their next two Champions League games against Real Madrid, Rodgers will hope his side have rediscovered some semblance of the form that took them so close to the Premier League title last season.
“The goal we conceded was far too soft and it is not the first one,” said a frustrated Rodgers. “When you concede a soft goal like that it is difficult, away from home against a side who have a good record against English teams.”
Real’s neighbours Atletico enjoyed a more noteworthy victory, not only putting behind them a surprise opening defeat by Olympiakos, but also becoming the first side in 11 games to breach the Juventus defence as Arda Turan scored the only goal of the game in Madrid.
Group C could go down to the wire as Zenit St Petersburg and Monaco top it with four points after they played out a 0-0 draw in Russia but German side Bayer Leverkusen are in the mix after beating last season’s Europa League finalists Benfica 3-1 with Korean star Son Heung-min their inspiration.