The 2022/23 Champions League group stages got underway on Wednesday and Thursday evening, with goals, surprises and a selection of the finest players in the world on display.

It was a good week for German, Spanish and English teams, with Bayern Munich, Wolfsburg, Barcelona, Real Madrid, Arsenal and Chelsea all winning, while French heavyweights PSG and Lyon were both beaten.

Here’s the best of the action with 90min’s weekly Champions League awards.

Frida Maanum spent the second half of the 2021/22 season playing more of a fringe role at Arsenal, and was yet to start a game for the Gunners this term prior to the small matter of the Gunners’ trip to European Champions Lyon.

But Maanum was drafted into the starting XI in place of superstar attacker Vivianne Miedema and turned in a stunning individual performance – bursting with energy, surging forward at every opportunity and covering every inch of the pitch – as Arsenal secured a remarkable 5-1 victory.

The young midfielder netted Arsenal’s second of the evening with an instinctive, first time finish, and set up B*th Mead for her side’s fifth after breaking up play straight from kick off and feeding the Gunners forward with a pinpoint pass.

“Frida is one of our strongest runners and she carries the ball very well,” said Jonas Eidevall.

“We gave her a role that requires an extreme amount of running because she basically had to defend two players. She was absolutely brilliant, on and off the ball. It was an excellent performance from her and she should be really proud.”

There were a fair few goals to sift through following Barcelona’s 9-0 demolition of Benfica – but Asisat Oshoala’s effort was the pick of the bunch.

The forward collected a loose ball 20 yards from goal, took one touch and then arrowed an effort into the top left hand corner to give her side a 3-0 lead. A stunning individual strike.

Oshoala was on target again in the second half with a slightly simpler effort, tapping in from a yard out after good work from Mariona Caldentey.

Eight-time European champions Lyon do not lose very often. Eight-time European champions Lyon do not ship goals very often. On Wednesday evening, eight-time European champions Lyon were beaten 5-1 in their own backyard by Arsenal.

Arsenal turned in an electric team performance, with a goal from Frida Maanum and braces from B*th Mead and Caitlin Foord inflicting Lyon’s heaviest ever Champions League defeat. It also marked the most goals Lyon have ever conceded in a home fixture.

Lyon were missing eight key first team players in Ada Hegerberg, Catarina Macario, Sara Dabritz, Dzsenifer Marozsan, Ellie Carpenter, Griedge Mbock, Delphine Cascarino and Amel Majri – but they still put out a world class XI and were beaten by a Gunners side who were themselves without first choice centre-back pairing Leah Williamson and Rafaelle.

“On our side and their side I prefer not to talk about the players who are not playing,” said Eidevall. “I can only speak on behalf of Arsenal and we put in a really strong performance; it’s the strongest performance I have seen from us. We more than played our part in making this result.”

Mariona Caldentey, Ana-Maria Crnogorcevic

Barcelona ran riot against Benfica / Quality Sport Images/GettyImages

Eight different players were on the scoresheet as Barcelona ran out 9-0 winners over Benfica on Wednesday evening.

The win is the biggest in the (admittedly short) history of the Women’s Champions League group stages, bettering Chelsea’s 7-0 victory over Servette during last season’s competition.

Barcelona still have some way to go if they are to record the largest ever victory in Champions League history. Cypriot outfit Apollon Limassol currently hold that record for their 21-0 win over Albanian side Ada Velipojë during qualifying in 2012/13.

PSG vs Chelsea: UEFA Women's Champions League

Millie Bright netted the decisive goal against PSG / Anadolu Agency/GettyImages

Having surprisingly missed out on the knockout stages last season, Chelsea secured a vital three points in their bid to escape from their toughest of Champions League groups with a 1-0 win over PSG – a side who will also have ambitions of again going deep in this season’s competition.

Millie Bright netted the decisive goal in the first half, before the Blues turned in a resilient defensive display in the second half to hold firm as PSG pushed hard for an equaliser. Bright and Kadeisha Buchanan were solid at the back, while the dogged Erin Cuthbert was outstanding in midfield, energetically breaking up attack after attack.

“I think it proves that we can come anywhere and perform and get a good result,” said general manager Paul Green.

“To come away from home to PSG and get a 1-0 win, that’s a fantastic result for us and will give us confidence. Maybe it starts to bury some of the demons from last year but we need to show we’re good enough across the whole group. This is a fantastic start but we’ve got to carry that through.”

Real Madrid had a frustrating time of it during the opening 45 against Champions League group stage debutants Vllaznia, dominating possession but failing to find the breakthrough.

The deadlock was finally broken nine minutes after the break thanks to Esther Gonzalez; but the goal was all about the pass from Claudia Zornoza.

The midfielder split the Vllaznia backline with a fabulous first time through ball, executed with the perfect weight and pace to send Gonzalez scurrying through on goal. It capped a marvellous performance from Zornoza, as Real secured a 2-0 victory.


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