Valencia: Juventus believe they can win the Champions League with Cristiano Ronaldo, but they had to start by beating Valencia without him after he was controversially sent off on his debut in the competition for the Italian champions on Wednesday.
A tearful Ronaldo left the pitch in disbelief in the 29th minute, having aimed a petulant, but seemingly harmless, kick at Valencia defender Jeison Murillo.
The Portuguese player then made contact with Murillo's head while urging him to get up.
Ronaldo dropped to the floor like the tournament was lost after German official Felix Brych brandished the red card but Juve showed more composure, Miralem Pjanic scoring twice from the penalty spot to clinch a comfortable 2-0 win.
Valencia were even awarded a third spot-kick of the match deep into injury-time but Daniel Parejo missed.
It remains to be seen how UEFA judge Ronaldo's offence, and dissent, but he is set to miss the next European game at home to Young Boys on 2 October.
After that comes the more threatening double-header against Manchester United.
"I can only say that VAR would have helped the referee make the right decision," Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri said afterwards. UEFA are yet to approve the technology in Europe's premier club tournament.
Valencia fans celebrated Ronaldo's dismissal at the Estadio Mestalla like a goal had been scored but, in truth, their team missed a golden chance to gain a foothold in Group H.
Instead, Ronaldo's absence had little effect. The Italians won — with ease. "Come on Cristiano, give us Europe," read the headline in Italian daily Gazzetta dello Sport.
"You could say he's increased the players' desire to prove themselves," Allegri said. "He's raised the bar for everybody."
Boos and jeers
Juventus have claimed seven Serie A titles in a row but the Champions League is the one they want. They last won that in 1996 when Ronaldo was 11 and still playing youth football for Nacional.
Valencia fans lined the streets outside just to witness the buses pull in, booing the visitors and Ronaldo, in particular.
They also jeered him during the warm-up, during which Ronaldo replied by banging a ball into the open net from two yards.
Valencia's last game in the Champions League was Gary Neville's first as manager and there have been four more in charge since.
Jose Gaya and Parejo were the only players left on Wednesday from that night but change has not yet bridged the gap with Europe's elite.
"We are not prepared to compete consistently with teams at this level," Valencia head coach Marcelino said.
Ronaldo started brightly, with an ambitious shot from distance, and then had a hand in teeing up two glorious chances.
He first crossed for Federico Bernardeschi to set up Sami Khedira, before misfiring into the path of Mario Mandzukic six yards out. Each fluffed their lines.
Valencia had openings too but lacked punch. Michy Batshuayi, on his first start for the club, twisted round Giorgio Chiellini but was denied at the near post.
Then, the moment the match will be remembered for — Ronaldo let frustration get the better of him and Murillo made the most of it, falling instantly. Brych was convinced.
But instead of capitalising, Valencia twice capitulated. First, Parejo missed a high ball and kicked Joao Cancelo before Murillo took a risk by bundling down Leonardo Bonucci.
Pjanic stepped up for both spot-kicks and scored both, the first on the stroke of half-time, the next six minutes after.
Valencia probed but even when Daniele Rugani collided with Gabriel for a third penalty, Parejo's shot was saved by Wojciech Szczesny. There was never any hint of a comeback.
Manchester City stunned
Elsewhere, tournament favourites Manchester City were stunned at home by Lyon on Wednesday.
English champions City struggled, with Pep Guardiola watching from the stands after a touchline ban, and were beaten 2-1 by French side Lyon at the Etihad Stadium after an error-strewn display.
City, the bookmakers' favourites for the title this term, suffered a nightmare first half against an enterprising Lyon, with Maxwel Cornet sweeping in after a mistake by Fabian Delph, and Nabil Fekir drilling home before half-time.
The introduction of Sergio Aguero as a substitute revitalised City after the break, and Bernardo Silva turned in Leroy Sane's cutback with 23 minutes still to play.
But Lyon, who have only won two of their first five Ligue 1 matches this term, held on to clinch a famous victory and ease the pressure on coach Bruno Genesio.
"We saw two very different halves. We conceded many counter-attacks and at this level you get punished," said City assistant coach Mikel Arteta, who was filling in for Guardiola. "If you give cheap goals away it is difficult."
In the other Group F game earlier on Wednesday, Brazilian youngster Maycon came off the bench to rescue Shakhtar Donetsk a 2-2 draw in their game against group-stage debutants Hoffenheim in Kharkiv.
Real make statement
Holders Real Madrid showed that they are still serious contenders on the biggest stage despite seeing Ronaldo leave for Juventus in the close-season, as Julen Lopetegui's men saw off Roma 3-0 at the Santiago Bernabeu.
Isco curled home a sumptuous 45th-minute free-kick to give the 13-time champions the lead, before Gareth Bale made it three goals in two Champions League matches after his spectacular double in May's final triumph over Liverpool.
Mariano Diaz, making his second debut for Real after rejoining from Lyon last month, smashed home a fantastic third in added time.
"I thought the performance was very good tonight; the only disappointment was that we didn't score more," said Bale.
Real next travel to CSKA Moscow on October 2, after the Russians came back from two goals down to salvage a 2-2 draw at Viktoria Plzen, with Everton loanee Nikola Vlasic scoring an injury-time penalty.
Five-time champions Bayern Munich got their Group E campaign off to a solid start as Niko Kovac's men eased to a 2-0 triumph against Benfica in Lisbon, with Robert Lewandowski and Renato Sanches scoring the goals.
Ajax cruised to a 3-0 victory over AEK Athens in Amsterdam earlier in the day to sit atop the early standings, with Argentinian Nicolas Tagliafico scoring twice.
Paul Pogba inspires United to victory
Paul Pogba's brilliant opening goal was the catalyst as Manchester United overcame a difficult start to beat Young Boys 3-0 in Bern in their opening Champions League game on Wednesday.
Skipper Pogba struck to cut down the Swiss champions in their prime before he then doubled United's lead from a penalty just before the break.
The France star also set up the third goal for compatriot Anthony Martial in the second half, as Jose Mourinho's side safely negotiated this fixture on the synthetic surface at the Stade de Suisse.
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Updated Date: Sep 20, 2018 07:51:29 IST