PARIS — Juventus kicked off its Champions League campaign with a 2-0 victory over Valencia in a match overshadowed by a controversial red card for Cristiano Ronaldo while Lyon stunned tournament favorite Manchester City on Wednesday.
Ronaldo’s Champions League debut for Juventus lasted less than half an hour as the Portuguese star was red-carded after a collision with Valencia defender Jeison Murillo.
After tangling with Ronaldo, Colombian Murillo tumbled to the ground holding his face, and referee Felix Brych consulted with the assistant official beside the goal before giving the competition’s all-time record goalscorer his marching orders.
“The only thing I can say is that VAR could have helped the referee make the right decision,” said Juve coach Massimiliano Allegri, lamenting the lack of video technology in UEFA tournaments.
“It is very disappointing, we almost lost because of that and we will be without Ronaldo for the next (game).”
But Juventus, which had totally dominated until Ronaldo’s dismissal, was awarded two penalties within six minutes either side of halftime, and Miralem Pjanic confidently dispatched them both.
The Italian champion defended well thereafter to keep the hosts at arm’s length, although Juve goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny saved a Daniel Parejo spot-kick in the final minute of injury-time.
Manchester United top the early Group H table, though, after continuing its recent upturn in form by brushing aside Young Boys 3-0 in Bern to notch a third straight win in all competitions.
Jose Mourinho’s men were inspired by Paul Pogba on the artificial pitch, as the French World Cup winner drilled home a brilliant opener before converting a penalty on the stroke of half-time, and setting up Anthony Martial for the third.
But English champion Manchester City struggled, with Pep Guardiola watching from the stands after a touchline ban, and was beaten 2-1 by French side Lyon at the Etihad Stadium after an error-strewn display.
City, the bookmakers’ favorite 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 halftime.