Champions League Round-Up GW3
Game-week #3 of the UEFA Champions League provided even more special moments from Europe’s elite.
The third set of fixtures kicked off with two five-goal thrillers that set the scene for the prestigious tournament. Bayern Munich breezed past Viktoria Plzen at the Allianz, completing a 5-0 clean sweep of the Czech side to continue their 100% record in Group C. Elsewhere in the early kick-offs, Marseille defeated Sporting Lisbon 4-1 despite the Portuguese side going ahead in the first minute through Francisco Trincao. The result means the French outfit claimed their first points of the campaign, but are still sat rock bottom of Group D, with Sporting topping the group.
It was an all-British affair at Anfield, as Liverpool beat Rangers 2-0 to move to second in Group A. The Glaswegians were easily defeated yet again, giving them slim hopes of qualifying for the knock-out stages. Trent Alexander-Arnold hit back at his critics with a stunning free-kick that sailed into the top left corner in the 7th minute. Mohamed Salah doubled the hosts’ advantage after the interval after converting successfully from the spot. It was another lacklustre performance from Rangers, who despite their successes in Europe last season, are failing this year.
The other tie in Group A was a vintage Champions League fixture as two giants that bask in rich history faced off at the Johan Cruyff Arena. It did not disappoint. Napoli thrashed Ajax 6-1 away in a stellar performance that highlighted the individual brilliance of promising youngster: Khvicha Kvaratskhelia. It was the hosts that broke the deadlock as Kenneth Taylor’s close-range strike rebounded off Mohammed Kudus and into the net with nine minutes on the clock. The home crowd erupted, but had no idea of the storm that was brewing. Nine minutes later, Giacomo Raspadori equalised with a sublime header back across the face of goal. The floodgates were open, and Napoli took the lead in the 33rd minute when Giovanni Di Lorenzo headed home a delicious cross from the right-wing. Ajax could not nullify the threat of the Napoli attack, and conceded a third on the stroke of half-time when Piotr Zielinski made no mistake from a one-on-one situation after a driving run through the middle of the park. Raspadori then completed a brace two minutes after play resumed after captivating on a poor pass from ‘keeper, Remko Pasveer. Kvaratskhelia added to Ajax’s woes with a fifth goal as he played a one-two with Raspadori and calmly slotted the ball into the far corner to score his first goal in the competition. It was an embarrassing performance from the Amsterdam outfit, who were reduced to ten men in the 73rd minute when Dusan Tadic was dismissed after accumulating two yellow cards. Giovanni Simeone capped off a ruthless display in the 81st minute with a powerful strike into the roof of the net.
The world-famous San Siro hosted another clash between two European heavyweights as Inter Milan edged past Barcelona by a single goal to climb into second in Group C. Hakan Çalhanoğlu scored the only goal of the game in the first minute of added time in the first-half with a pinpoint strike from outside the area that arrowed into the bottom left corner, past the outstretched arms of the diving Ter Stegen. On the hour mark, Ousmane Dembele rattled the post after attempting to equalise by catching the Inter ‘keeper out with a near-post finish. Pedri thought he had levelled the scores in the 67 th minute after tapping in an unclaimed cross, however the goal was ruled out due to VAR deeming Ansu Fati to have handled the ball.
Tottenham played out a goalless draw in Frankfurt, but remain in second place in Group D. Club Brugge continued their surprise run of form as the Belgian side defeated Atletico Madrid 2-0. The blue and black stripes have won all three of their games despite being seen as the underdogs prior to the tournament commencing. Behind them in Group B is Porto, who moved to second after triumphing over the ten men of Bayer Leverkusen in Portugal.
Erling Haaland grabbed the headlines on Wednesday after scoring another two goals to add to his ridiculous goalscoring record since switching from Dortmund to Manchester City. The Norwegian broke the deadlock in the seventh minute by sweeping the ball into the back of the net following a low cross from Joao Cancelo. The Blue moon was beaming down on the green of the Etihad, and City almost doubled their advantage only four minutes later, but Bernardo Silva saw his strike rebound off the woodwork. City’s constant pressure paid off in the 32nd minute when that man Haaland was there to tap in to an empty net after a strong save was made. You cannot deny the inevitable, and these Danes were not great Danes. The ball was in the back of the net again six minutes before half-time, as Sergio Gomes’ shot was deflected and slowly rolled into the net. In the 55 th minute, the Sky Blues were awarded a penalty after Gomez was bundled to the ground from a corner. Riyad Mahrez stepped up and sent the Copenhagen ‘keeper the wrong way to make it 4-0. With 15 minutes remaining, Julian Alvarez netted his first Champions League goal after Mahrez squared it to him inside the six-yard box. A five-star performance from Manchester City saw them extend their reign over Group G.
AC Milan were the only Italian side in the competition to drop points this game-week, as they fell to defeat at Stamford Bridge. Wesley Fofana scored his first goal for the Blues after a corner caused chaos in the Milan danger area. The Frenchman kept composed and slotted the ball into the bottom corner to give Chelsea the advantage. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang notched his second in as many games after finishing on the volley after being found by Reece James. The provider then turned goalscorer six minutes later as James blasted the ball into the back of the net to secure the three points for Graham Potter’s men.
Both Scottish teams lost as Celtic experienced a range of emotions during their 3-1 defeat to RB Leipzig. Christopher Nkunku thought he had scored the opener with the cheekiest of chips in the 16 th minute, but was denied by VAR who judged the promising talent to be offside. Ten minutes later, Nkunku had the ball in the back of the net again, this time it counted. The Frenchman rounded Joe Hart to squeeze the ball in. It was an impressive counter from Leipzig, who were rewarded for their offensive threat. In the 48th minute, Jota equalised for Celtic after Kyogo Furuhashi squared it to him, sending the Celtic faithful into pandemonium. The joy was short-lived though, as Dominik Szoboszlai elegantly curled the ball into the far-right bottom corner to put his side 2-1 ahead. At least he thought he did. After a lengthy review, the referee disallowed the goal as he believed Andre Silva obstructed the line of sight of Hart. However, the drama did not end there as Joe Hart took the resulting free-kick and passed it straight to Szoboszlai, who played in Silva, who beat Hart to silence the celebrating Celtic fans. The Portuguese striker completed a brace in the 77th minute as he finished off a superb Leipzig attack to collect all three points.
Borussia Dortmund breezed past Sevilla 4-1 at the Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán Stadium to go second in Group G. Raphael Guerreiro opened the scoring with only six minutes gone with a rocket that flew into the net. The Dortmund dominance continued, and skipper, Jude Bellingham bagged a classy goal in the 41 st minute to give the yellow and black an insurance goal. The youngster’s silky skills put the Spanish defenders in a trance, leaving the Englishman an opening to poke the ball home. Two minutes later, Karim Adeyemi added a third when faced with an open goal following a save from the Sevilla shot-stopper. After the interval, Youssef En Nesyri got one back for the hosts using his head excellently to get on the end of a corner whipped in by Alex Telles. It ended up being a consolation goal, as playmaker, Julian Brandt, scored Dortmund’s fourth to conclude a professional and dominant performance by the German side.
Elsewhere around Europe: PSG were locked in a stalemate against Benfica, as Lionel Messi’s goal was not enough to secure three points for the Parisians. Current holders, Real Madrid, edged Shakhtar Donetsk 2-1 at the Bernabeu courtesy of goals from Vinicius Junior and Rodrygo. Noah Okafor’s spot-kick was enough for RB Salzburg who climbed to pole position in Group E after beating Dinamo Zagreb. Juventus saw off Maccabi Haifa in Turin thanks to Adrien Rabiot’s double and Dusan Vlahovic’s 50 th minute effort.