Bad news for Manchester United as Champions League rivals finally find form

Champions League Pitch

We continue our weekly reports looking at United's Champions League opponents' results and form.

Every week we will take a look at how the club’s in United’s Champions League group have fared in their domestic competitions, giving fans a hint of what to expect in the build-up to the matches that will take place in the coming months.

Real Sociedad:

It was bad news for United as the Spaniards won their first league match since the opening weekend of the season.

The draw specialists ended Valencia’s 5-match unbeaten run with a 2-1 victory at the Mestalla.

Antoine Griezmann scored for the visitors four minutes before the break. And when Ruben Pardo doubled Sociedad’s lead shortly before the hour mark the victory looked secure.

An injury-time effort from Valencia’s Dorlan Pabon halved the arrears, but United’s next Champions League opponents held on for a much-needed win.

The victory propelled them to ninth in the La Liga table, while Valencia are one place above them.

Shakhtar Donetsk:

The Ukrainian champions climbed back to the top of their domestic league following a 3-1 away win against Illichivets Mariupol on Saturday, despite being 1-0 down with just 24 minutes to play.

An own-goal from Taras Stepanenko seven minutes before half-time gave the hosts the lead. And that was how the match remained until the 66th minute, when substitute Darijo Srna converted the first of two penalties. The Croatian put Shakhtar 2-1 up seven minutes later, again from the spot, and an 85th-minute strike from Luiz Adriano put the game to bed.

The result means Shakhtar are now ahead of Metalist Kharkiv on goal-difference, although the second-placed team has two games in hand.

Bayer Leverkusen:

The German side temporarily found themselves at the top of the Bundesliga after a controversial goal sealed a 2-1 victory away to Hoffenheim.

Sidney Sam put Sami Hyypia’s side ahead in the 26th minute, but it was Stefan Kießling’s ‘goal’ that generated considerable debate after the match.

The German striker headed wide, only for the ball to inexplicably drop through a hole in the net and nestle between the posts.

With both players and officials unsure exactly what had happened, the goal was given, and when the hosts scored a late goal of their own courtesy of Sven Shipplock, Kießling’s ghost goal took on added importance.

The result sent Leverkusen top on Friday evening, although Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund have both since climbed above them.

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image: © El Ronzo

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