Brendan Rodgers has impressed since taking charge at Celtic. Jeff Holmes

Brendan Rodgers has taken Celtic up a level and more Champions League talking points

Plus, Manchester United’s Romelu Lukaku already looking a wise investment.

1. Brendan Rodgers has taken Celtic up a level 

AFTER LOSING 5-0 to PSG in their opening group game, Celtic were badly in need of a big response and they duly delivered amid a 3-0 victory over Anderlecht tonight.

Anything other than a win would have left their chances of progression in jeopardy at this early stage, but the Scottish champions managed to register only their second ever away win in the Champions League group stages this evening.

It was also their first European win in 16 games, as goals from Leigh Griffiths, Patrick Roberts and Scott Sinclair earned a deserved victory for the visitors in Brussels.

And while getting through from a group that includes PSG and Bayern remains a big ask, there is no doubt that Brendan Rodgers has overseen a period of considerable progress in recent times.

Celtic had failed to reach the group stages two seasons on the bounce before the Northern Irishman arrived, but they now are looking a reasonably competitive force in Europe again, notwithstanding the aforementioned drubbing they received in their opening fixture.

What is also impressive is how Rodgers has turned the Bhoys into such a technically proficient side.

According to the latest figures provided by the CIES Football Observatory, Celtic’s ability to keep the ball is better than anyone in Europe.

And tonight, they had 64% of the ball away from home, which is almost unheard of at Champions League level for a side that have been invariably associated with direct, long-ball football in Europe in recent years.

2. Romelu Lukaku already looking a wise investment

Man United casually swept aside a poor CSKA Moscow side 4-1 in the Champions League tonight.

That result alone doesn’t say too much about the English club’s prospects for the forthcoming season, given the awful standard of the opposition.

However, as far as the overall picture is concerned, the situation is looking the healthiest it’s been since Alex Ferguson’s retirement.

The Red Devils are second in the Premier League table only on goal difference and now look virtually certain to progress from the Champions League group stages.

One man who has been integral to their fine start has been Romelu Lukaku. After a brace tonight, the 24-year-old has scored 14 goals in 11 appearances in all competitions since the start of the current campaign.

Eyebrows were raised this summer, when Jose Mourinho’s side paid a reported £75 million, plus £15 million in add-ons for the Belgian international.

However, Lukaku has since gone some way towards justifying the hype with his phenomenal start to life at Old Trafford.

The Uefa Super Cup aside, United have not lost a single game this season, while winning five of their opening six Premier League encounters.

3. No sign of PSG disharmony impacting on performances

France Soccer Champions League PSG's Neymar (10) is congratulated by teammate Edinson Cavani, background, beside PSG's Kylian Mbappe after scoring his side's third goal. Thibault Camus Thibault Camus

PSG made a statement of intent as they convincingly beat Bayern Munich 3-0 this evening in Paris.

If there were any doubts about their prowess, those have been well and truly put to bed after they were too good for one of the best sides in Europe.

Aside from arguably Real Madrid and Barcelona, it is hard to think of a team currently better placed to triumph in this year’s Champions League than the French outfit.

Perhaps most significantly though, there were few signs of the rumoured off-field problems afflicting the club on the pitch tonight.

Indeed, Dani Alves, Edinson Cavani and Neymar — three players at the centre of the alleged disagreements — were all on the scoresheet.

The result means they remain unbeaten in all competitions since the start of the season, winning eight and drawing one of their nine matches so far.

4. Big win for Chelsea

Along with Tottenham, Chelsea probably were handed the toughest group stage draw of all the English sides in this year’s Champions League.

Antonio Conte’s men were paired with Roma, Atletico Madrid and Qarabag.

They got a big win tonight, however, as a late Michy Batshuayi goal saw them secure an impressive victory away to Atletico.

This evening’s outcome leaves the London club in pole position to qualify from Group C, as they lead proceedings on six points — two ahead of Roma and five in front of Atletico.

The stats tell a story of how significant and impressive the triumph was — it is just the second time in 24 Champions League home games under Diego Simeone that Atletico have been beaten.

Moreover, if Chelsea can deservedly defeat the team currently second after an unbeaten start to the season in La Liga, they will surely fancy their chances against most clubs.

For Simeone’s men, though, the outlook is less rosy. In the past four seasons, they have reached the Champions League final twice and got to the quarter-finals at least on each occasion.

Yet with the Spaniards currently second from bottom on one point in their group, they have plenty of work to do in order to maintain that incredible record this year.

Subscribe to The42 podcasts here:

Watch: Mbappe stars as PSG impressively overcome Bayern>

UCD record memorable win as they come from behind in Uefa Youth League first leg>

Your Voice
Readers Comments
This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
Leave a Comment
    Submit a report
    Please help us understand how this comment violates our community guidelines.
    Thank you for the feedback
    Your feedback has been sent to our team for review.

    Leave a commentcancel