Borussia Dortmund have lost 2-1 to Napoli in their first Champions League game of the season, finishing a goal, a goalie and a coach down against the Italians. Rivals Schalke had more joy at home to Steaua Bucharest.
Borussia Dortmund lost a tricky fixture on the road while Schalke won an easy one at home 3-0 on Wednesday in the Champions League.
A fantasy fiction novelist would have struggled to think up a worse first half for Borussia Dortmund against Napoli. By the half-time break, Dortmund trailed by a goal and a player, with fiery coach Jürgen Klopp also consigned to the stands for furiously appealing to the fourth official.
Goalie Roman Weidenfeller was sent off for handball outside his area, Mats Hummels limped off injured and his partner in central defense, Neven Subotic, played on despite a gaping cut above his eye. With reserve center-back Sokratis injured in training on Tuesday, midfielder Sven Bender had to fill in after Hummels' injury.
Dortmund conceded the first Napoli goal, a Gonzalo Higuain header, just after Subotic had been receiving treatment in the 29th minute. Subotic rejoined the action moments before the move, raced back into position in the box, but was beaten to the ball. Jürgen Klopp, who felt the corner should have been delayed to let Subotic rejoin the game, made his opinion on the matter all too clear to the officials, earning himself a ticket to the stands. Hummel's injury and Weidenfeller's red card completed Dortmund's disarray in defense.
Lorenzo Insigne stretched the Napoli lead in the second half with a precision free kick off the underside of the crossbar, leaving reserve goalie Mitch Langerak no chance. Klopp's understaffed side fought well in a difficult second half, and were ultimately gifted a consolation goal. Juan Camilo Zuniga tried, in a moment of madness, to back-heel a cross out of the danger zone - he miscued and put it in his own net instead.
Last year's runners-up in an all-German final with Bayern Munich, Dortmund have again drawn arguably the toughest group in the Champions League. Arsenal, bolstered with new signing Mesut Özil, won the other Group F game 2-1 on the road in Marseille on Wednesday.
Schalke find feet late against Steaua
Schalke secured their fourth win in a row across all competitions, despite a rather unimpressive first hour on home turf against underdogs Steaua Bucharest.
Full back Atsuto Uchida broke the deadlock in the 67th minute with a goal he will never forget, albeit not because of its quality. The Japanese international lofted a speculative cross in from the right that just cleared Kevin-Prince Boateng's head. The ball drifted past an unsighted keeper and into the far corner, untouched by any other player.
Once in the lead, Schalke's play improved. Boateng added a second courtesy of a Julian Draxler assist and shortly before the final whistle Draxler got on the scoresheet himself to cap Schalke's best move of the night.
"I'm happy that the game's over and that we won 3-0," Kevin-Prince Boateng said after the game. "This was an important game for me and of course for the team."
If Schalke's result was somewhat flattering, Swiss champions FC Basel pulled off the improbable in London. Basel beat Chelsea 2-1, handing the 2012 Champions League winners an early shock defeat. Chelsea crashed out of Europe's premier competition in the group stages last season and have not started any better under new coach Jose Mourinho. As a result, Schalke and Basel - the teams expected to battle it out for second place - lead Group E at this early stage.
Jens Keller's Schalke travel to Basel on October 1 for their next Champions League game, but more immediately the Royal Blues have a weekend Bundesliga match against visitors Bayern Munich to worry about.