After two straight losses, against Paris SG and Real Madrid, Malmö FF finally got the victory they needed in the 2015-16 Champions League. Against visiting Shakthar Donetsk, Markus Rosenberg scored the first goal in the 17th minute. That can be an important milestone in Malmö’s European adventure: the third placed team in the group will go through to play in the Europa Lague.
Markus Rosenberg scored 1-0
Shakthar had most of the ball possession (about 2/3 the entire game). However, Malmö played with high pressure. This disarmed the Ukrainian midfield and they had to rely on long passes which made them look uncomfortable. In the 17th minute of the first half, Pa Konate reached Markus Rosenberg with a brilliant pass. Rosenberg made no mistake when he put the ball in the net behind Andrij Pyatov. After the goal, Malmö fell back in their positions for a while and Shakhtar could move their game up field. However, this gave Malmö some excellent chances for 3 against 3 rushes and similar break-outs. However, no more goals were scored in the first half.
In the other half, Malmö were close to increasing their lead. Still, Shakhtar had the possession but Malmö got the better chances to score. In the 55th minute they were awarded a penalty after 33-year old Croatian defender Darijo Srna had interfered Jo Inge Berget in the penalty area. Srna had a tough night, with a head injury in the first half, the penalty and some other referee decisions against him. However, Andreij Pyatov made a nice save on the penalty kick, keeping Malmö’s lead down to one goal.
Malmö had a good night. Many players delivered their best all over the field: Po Konate, who assisted on the first goal, was excellent. Johan Aronsson made a solid defensive match. Erdal Rakip gave the team new energy in the second half with his two-way plays and offensive runs. Three points were well deserved and the score could have been both 2- and 3-0, but the match ended 1-0.
The result means that Malmö is placed third in group A. The next match is a return against Shakhtar Donetsk. Because of the unrest in Ukraine, Shakhtar will play their home matches at Arena Lviv, which was also used in the 2012 European Championships. The game will be an important decider of the third place if we rule out that neither Shakhtar or Malmö will get any points against Real Madrid and Paris SG (who played 0-0 in Paris this round).
Standings after Champions League’s third round
PSG is at the top of group A after the tie against Real Madrid
Wolfsburg is at the top of group B before Manchester United. The Germans defeated PSV Eindhoven while Man U got a tie away against CSKA Moscow
Atlético Madrid crushed FC Astana 4-0 while Galatasaray defeated Benfica 2-1. Atlético is in the top of group C before Benfica. Galatasaray is trailing 2 points behind.
Juventus and Manchester City got one home win each and is placed one and two in group D, as expected.
Last year’s champions, Barcelona, defeated FC Bate Borisov away and is at the top of group E at 7 points. Bayer Leverkusen played a tied goal fiesta against Roma, 4-4, and is placed second in the group.
Arsenal got a heavyweight victory at home, defeating Bayern Munich 2-0. However, they are only placed third in group F where Bayern is in the lead before Olympiacos.
Chelsea only got a goalless tie against Dynamo Kiev and are now placed third in group G. They are also struggling in Premier League. Porto is in the lead after defeating Maccabi Tel-Aviv.
In group H, Valencia and Zenit got a home victory each. FC Zenit is undefeated at the top of the group before Valencia.