LONDON: Manchester City are struggling to export their Premier League success into Europe. Halfway through the group stage of the Champions League they sit bottom of the Group D table with only one point after a 3-1 defeat away to Ajax.
Not that City were the only significant losers on a happy night for German football whose Borussia Dortmund beat Real Madrid while Schalke ended Arsenal’s nine-year unbeaten home record in the competition.
Milan continued their poor form with a 1-0 loss at a Malaga outfit who have suffered similar financial constraints to the Italians but who are coping much better and top Group C with maximum points.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored again as Paris Saint-Germain won 2-0 at Dinamo Zagreb to stay second in Group A behind Porto who beat Dynamo Kiev 3-2 but fellow French side Montpellier fell 2-1 at home to Olympiakos Piraeus.
Montpellier are bottom of Group B on one point with the Greeks on three and Arsenal on six, a point behind conquerors and new leaders Schalke who host the Gunners on November 6.
Alexander Kerzhakov scored a 72nd-minute spot kick as Zenit St Petersburg edged out winless Anderlecht 1-0 to somewhat fortunately earn their first points this season and move one behind beleaguered Milan.
In Dortmund’s Westfalen Stadium, Jose Mourinho’s Real were largely outclassed as the Germans went top of Group D.
Poland striker Robert Lewandowski fired the hosts into a deserved 36th-minute lead after a poor pass from defender Pepe but Real hit back two minutes later with a cute lob by Cristiano Ronaldo from the edge of the box.
Defender Marcel Schmelzer then put Dortmund back in front with a first-time shot in the 64th minute after a weak punch by Real keeper Iker Casillas, who otherwise kept his team in the game in easily the competition’s toughest group.
Juergen Klopp’s side now have seven points from three matches, one above second-placed Real and four above Ajax with City languishing at the bottom needing a win at home to the Dutch side to begin a miracle comeback.
City, in only their second Champions League campaign, took the lead in Amsterdam through Samir Nasri on 22 minutes after a well-worked move but they let their grip on the game go as Siem de Jong fired in just before the break.
Niklas Moisander then netted with an easy header from a corner to further expose City’s defence and the zonal marking system as Ajax went 2-1 ahead earlier in the second period and Christian Eriksen’s deflected effort had home fans in dreamland.
City manager Roberto Mancini said: “I think that they played better than us, they played better football, probably it is my fault because probably I prepared badly this game. I think that it is very difficult (to qualify).”
There were few shocks in Tuesday’s group games with the likes of Barcelona and Manchester United winning despite scares.
# # # #