Real Madrid Gareth Bale
Real Madrid forward Gareth Bale celebrates after scoring against Basel in the Champions LeagueReuters

Real Madrid found their attacking groove to start their title defence in style, while Borussia Dortmund thoroughly outclassed a defensively clueless Arsenal as the new Champions League season began the only way it knows to – with a bang.

Liverpool huffed and puffed for 81 minutes on their return to the Champions League after a five-year hiatus, before their £16 million man – Mario Balotelli – came to the fore to score the opener against an unlucky Ludogorets. The Bulgarian side refused to lie down and die, though, as Dani Abalo made it 1-1 in the 90th minute only for Steven Gerrard to give Liverpool all three points from the penalty spot after Javier Manquillo was brought down by goalkeeper Milan Borjan in stoppage time.

In other results, Atletico Madrid were stunned by Olympiakos, while Juventus, Zenit St. Petersburg and Monaco all began their Champions League campaign with a win, with Anderlecht and Galatasaray playing out a draw.

The match at the Bernabeu saw Real Madrid show off all of their ridiculous attacking qualities with Gareth Bale, Cristiano Ronaldo, James Rodriguez and Karim Benzema all getting in on the act.

The first goal did not come from one of that famous quartet, though, as Nacho, a surprise inclusion at right-back for Real Madrid, saw his cross deflected into his own net by Basel's Marek Suchy in the 14th minute.

If that was unlucky, it would only get worse for the Swiss side, as Real Madrid, under pressure for an authoritative performance after their issues in La Liga, turned on the style. Bale made it 2-0 on the half hour with a wonderful finish off an equally impeccable pass from his fellow former Tottenham man Luka Modric. The Welshman ran onto a peach of a through ball from Modric, before lifting the ball over the goalkeeper Thomas Vaclik, and then guiding it into an empty net.

A minute more was all it took for Real Madrid to make it 3-0, as Bale turned provider, latching onto another wonderful pass from Modric, before crossing low for Ronaldo to tap home.

Rodriguez then decided to get his name on the scoresheet for Real in the 37th minute, stabbing home a rebound after Vaclik had saved an effort from Karim Benzema off a Ronaldo pass.

Real's defending has been a problem this season, and that fragile backline was shown up again as Derlis Gonzalez burst through to finish with aplomb past the right hand of Iker Casillas to bring a semblance of respectability to the scoreline.

The second half was quite low key, as Real Madrid took their foot off the pedal, with Benzema making it 5-1 late in the game as Real Madrid fashioned a comfortable and much-needed win.

Aubameyang Borussia Dortmund
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang celebrates with his Borussia Dortmund teammates after scoring against Arsenal in their Champions League Group D gameReuters

At the Westfalenstadion, it was all Borussia Dortmund, as Arsenal struggled to cope against the heavy-metal attack of the Germans. Right from minute one there was only one team in the game, and the only surprise was that it took Jurgen Klopp's men over 44 minutes to open the scoring.

Arsenal, who pulled off an impressive smash-and-grab 1-0 win here last season, just failed to cope with the pace and verve Dortmund, unable to keep the ball, and looking leakier than a 18th century pipe at the back. Arsenal have failed to stop the goals so far this season in most games, and Dortmund made full use of the dodgy defence, with Hector Bellerin, making a start at right-back, particularly targeted by the ruthless Germans.

A couple of attacks from Bellerin's side nearly opened the scoring and had it not been for Wojciech Szczesny, the scoreline would have looked a lot worse than 1-0 at halftime.

When the goal did come, though, it just highlighted Arsenal's pathetic display at the back as Ciro Immobile was allowed to run from the halfway line before firing in a low shot across Szczesny's right hand and into the bottom corner right on the stroke of halftime.

Despite all of the Dortmund domination, and Arsenal's poor play – Alexis Sanchez and Mikel Arteta, in particular, will want to forget this game quickly – the away side did have a couple of really good chances, both of them falling to Danny Welbeck, who, yet again, showed plenty of energy without that crucial cutting edge.

Welbeck's first chance came via some wonderful work from Kieran Gibbs who raced down the left before crossing for his compatriot, only for the Arsenal forward to strike air when he should have hit a bit of the leather.

The second opportunity was much better, a lot like the one he missed against Manchester City on Saturday, with Welbeck, this time, firing wide when put through by Aaron Ramsey, who for a second straight game had a forgettable evening.

Arsene Wenger would have made his feelings known about Arsenal's inept performance in the first 45, but those words seemed to have fallen on deaf ears as Dortmund struck again a couple of minutes into the second half. Yet again, it was poor defending as Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was allowed to run through the Arsenal defence, before rounding Szczesny and firing into an empty net.

That goal ended all Arsenal hopes of at least coming away with a point, with Dortmund, sensing the soft underbelly, which just seemed to be growing and growing, looking to increase the lead as Immobile and Aubameyang came close, with the latter striking the crossbar.

The score remained 2-0, though, even if only just, as Dortmund ran-out quite impressive winners with Arsenal flying back to London licking their wounds.

The major upset of the night came in Greece as Olympiakos pulled off a stunning 3-2 win over last season's runners-up Atletico Madrid. Arthur Masuaku opened the scoring for Olympiakos in the 13th minute, before former Barcelona man Ibrahim Afellay, who assisted the opener, netted to make it 2-0.

Mario Mandzukic pulled one back for the Spanish champions, but Kostas Mitroglou put the result beyond doubt with a brilliant finish on 73 minutes, before Antoine Griezmann reduced the deficit to 3-2 late on.

Results: Group A: Olympiakos 3-2 Atletico Madrid; Juventus 2-0 Malmo.

Group B: Liverpool 2-1 Ludogorets; Real Madrid 5-1 Basel.

Group C: Monaco 1-0 Bayer Leverkusen; Benfica 0-2 Zenit St. Petersburg.

Group D: Borussia Dortmund 2-0 Arsenal; Galatasaray 1-1 Anderlecht.

Quick Links