Commentary

Champions League winners & losers

Our review of the action from Matchday 4

Updated: November 3, 2011, 1:20 PM ET
By Ravi Ubha | ESPN.com

It's hardly a surprise that powerhouses Barcelona, Real Madrid and AC Milan became the first three teams to book their spots in the second round of the Champions League. A little more unexpected was Chelsea slipping up in Belgium and Arsenal dropping two points at home against Marseille.

We look back on Matchday 4, where two players netted hat tricks, a goal was scored within 15 seconds of kickoff, and the Yellow Submarine was sunk by an English team at home for the first time.

Top player: Lionel Messi, Barcelona

Cristiano Ronaldo still can't get one over on Messi. Ronaldo scored twice against Lyon to give him 100 Real Madrid goals in a mere 105 matches, but Messi outdid the Portuguese international by bagging a second consecutive hat-trick in a 4-0 victory against Viktoria Plzen, which was down to 10 men after the 22nd minute.

[+] EnlargeCristiano Ronaldo
Philippe Merle/AFP/Getty ImagesCristiano Ronaldo had a great week, scoring twice against Lyon to give him 100 Real Madrid goals in a mere 105 matches. But Lionel Messi once again outdid him.

Messi, who passed the 200-goal barrier for Barcelona, is sure to eclipse Cesar Rodriguez's club record of 235. The only question is whether he'll do it this season.

"It depends on how we do in the rest of the campaign, but you can't rule it out," Barcelona manager Pep Guardiola told reporters.

Messi's opener came via a penalty when he was tripped in the box. His second and third were typically Barcelona. His one-two with Adriano made it 2-0, and Messi took a back-heel from defender Gerard Pique to complete the scoring.

Perhaps lost amid Messi's genius was keeper Victor Valdes setting a club record for minutes without conceding with 877, overtaking Miguel Reina's mark of 824 set in 1972-73. Valdes made a great save with the game scoreless, denying Milan Petrzela on a one-on-one.

Easiest away win: Manchester City

Road games in the Champions League are rarely easy, but Manchester City had a comfortable, comfortable evening at Villarreal. It ended 3-0, and Villarreal barely tested City keeper Joe Hart. Such was Villarreal's display in the first half that pundit Martin O'Neill said he hadn't witnessed a Spanish team play as badly in the competition.

Come on, Martin, give 'em a break. Villarreal was devoid of more than a half-dozen regulars, including U.S.-born striker Giuseppe Rossi. That said, City's first two goals emanated from bad Villarreal mistakes. What, exactly, was Gonzalo Rodriguez -- the captain -- doing on the opening goal by Yaya Toure, turning the wrong way with Toure in a dangerous spot in the box? And there was no need for Mateo Musacchio to take down Mario Balotelli in the box at the end of the first half since Rodriguez had him closed down.

"We need to start getting players back and winning games, which would represent a big morale boost for us," Villarreal manager Juan Carlos Garrido told reporters. "Today 11 players in a squad of 18 came from the youth setup."

The lone worries for City were playmaker David Silva's slight back injury and manager Roberto Mancini bumping his head on the dugout ceiling. "It's a dangerous bench," Mancini told reporters, as his side moved into second place in the group of death behind Bayern Munich.

[+] EnlargeDiego Milito
Claudio Villa/Getty ImagesInter's Diego Milito was having a frustrating time against Lille.

Worst miss: Diego Milito, Inter

Milito hadn't netted since the end of September, and you could tell he was a striker short on confidence in Inter's 2-1 win over Lille. When it would have been easier to score than not, with much of the net to aim for, he struck the bar in the first half.

But that was nothing compared to what happened early in the second. Lille's offside trap on a Wesley Sneijder free kick was train-wreck material, leaving Dejan Stankovic and Milito all alone in front of goal. Stankovic unselfishly fed Milito, but his effort sailed over the bar. In the end, it wasn't one of those nights for the Argentine. He converted Javier Zanetti's cross in the 65th minute after the evergreen Inter captain made a powerful run into the box. Zanetti was part of the oldest team -- with an average age of 31.5 -- to ever take the field in a Champions League game.

"I am pleased that we won, and I am particularly happy for Diego Milito, because it was very important for him to score and get off the mark again," the 38-year-old told UEFA.com. Inter, languishing near the relegation zone in Serie A, comfortably leads the way in Group B.

Worst penalty: David Luiz, Chelsea

The Brazilian center back usually isn't short of swagger, the way he throws his body around and marauds like a midfielder. His penalty against Genk, though, suggested he, too, was lacking confidence. Luiz's spot kick was tame and at a good height for Genk keeper Laszlo Koteles. Of course, you could ask why manager Andre Villas-Boas didn't have one of his forward players, like Fernando Torres or Nicolas Anelka, to take the penalty.

Couple Luiz's blunder with a rare Frank Lampard miss from a yard out and Chelsea had to settle for a 1-1 draw. It was another negative following a 1-0 loss at QPR, allegations of racism aimed at captain John Terry and Saturday's 5-3 mauling by Arsenal at Stamford Bridge.

"We will get back the momentum we had before the defeat to QPR," Villas-Boas told reporters, his side still atop Group E. "At the moment it is not happening for us. It was a point away from home, but it is a game we wanted to win."

Costliest win: Bayern Munich

Bayern Munich's 3-2 win against Napoli came at a price, and we're not talking about defender Holger Badstuber's red card. Midfield dynamo Bastian Schweinsteiger suffered a suspected broken collarbone in a collision with Swiss international Gokhan Inler early in the second half in Munich and could be out for six weeks.

"The team was shocked," hat-trick hero Mario Gomez told UEFA.com. "It took us a while to find our feet again and clear our heads. Basti is our midfield motor."

Fortunately for Bayern, it remains the favorite to win Group A, and Schweinsteiger will be ready for the knockout phase in February. It's a bigger blow in the Bundesliga, with Dortmund now charging. The two go head-to-head Nov. 19.

Most surprising player: Zlatan Ibrahimovic, A.C. Milan

Ibrahimovic didn't look like a man who wanted to retire against BATE Borisov. Not known for his work rate -- "Normally he's always a little bit lazy," former Milan stalwart Ruud Gullit told Sky -- Ibra actually tracked back to get the ball rolling on Milan's goal in the 1-1 draw. He poked the ball away from defender Marko Simic and then deposited Robinho's cross to the far post seconds later.

The Swedish international will be expected to carry an even greater load in the wake of Antonio Cassano's long-term absence. Cassano, according to reports, is expected to have heart surgery Friday.

Robinho, by the way, was fortunate not to see red for a sly little elbow aimed at a BATE defender.

Worst howler: Bernd Leno, Bayer Leverkusen

This wasn't one of those mistakes in which a ball squirms through the keeper's legs or goes through his gloves. Rather, Leno's poor clearance with about 10 seconds gone against Valencia headed straight to Jonas, who coolly put the ball low and into the corner for the second-fastest goal in Champions League history. Valencia won 3-1 to keep alive its hopes of advancing in Chelsea's group. "We were as good as them, but we weren't wide awake at the decisive moments," Michael Ballack told Bayer's Web site.

Quote of the week: David Seaman

When asked whether he was surprised how quickly Cesc Fabregas has settled into the Barcelona setup, Seaman, the former Arsenal keeper who was working as an analyst on British TV, replied with a chuckle: "Who couldn't settle in that side? Even I could and I've been retired seven years."

London-based Ravi Ubha covers soccer and tennis for ESPN.com. You can follow him on Twitter here.

London-based Ravi Ubha covers soccer and tennis for ESPN.com.