Matchday three in the Champions League saw a number of twists and turns as eight teams took to the field across Europe on Tuesday.
From the most entertaining of 0-0 draws to absolute goal fests and a particularly surprising upset over in Belgium, we got it all as the group stages reach the halfway mark. Liverpool and Rangers faced off in front of a fierce Anfield crowd, with plenty expecting a Champions League classic.
Here’s how it all unfolded on the night.
Liverpool 2-0 Rangers
An early free-kick from Trent Alexander-Arnold set the tone for a brilliant night at the office for Liverpool, who dispatched of Rangers with ease.
With everyone excited to see how Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s side would cope in an all-British affair, Rangers struggled to contain Liverpool despite their conservative shape. 40-year-old Allan McGregor kept them in the game with a catalogue of fine saves, keeping the Reds out from open play.
For all their dominance in possession and in winning the ball back high up, it was Mohamed Salah who doubled Liverpool’s lead from the penalty spot in the second half. Rangers remain rooted to the bottom of the group on zero points and must show more fight next time out.
Ajax 1-6 Napoli
Another goal for Mohammed Kudus just nine minutes into the game was the dream start for Ajax, whose evening surprisingly turned into a disastrous one as they were thrashed at home.
When Giacomo Raspadori levelled the contest after 18 minutes, the floodgates opened and Luciano Spalletti’s side pulled no punches, peppering the goal and punishing Ajax for stealing an early march.
Giovanni Di Lorenzo and Piotr Zielinski turned the game on its head before half-time, before Raspadori grabbed his second mere minutes into the second half. Ajax capitulated and a red card for Dusan Tadic put the seal on a terrible evening that has seen them fall to third in the group.
Club Brugge 2-0 Atletico Madrid
Group B continued to surprise as Club Brugge maintained their perfect record with a shockingly convincing victory over Atletico Madrid.
A cagey affair in the opening stages saw chances shared between both sides, which made Kamal Sowah’s opening goal after 36 minutes all the more important in tipping the scales.
Proceedings remained open after the break as Atleti pushed hard for an equaliser. It proved their undoing, though, as Brugge doubled their lead just after the hour mark through Ferran Jutgla, leaving the Spanish side scratching their heads. And when Antoine Griezmann missed a penalty with just under 15 minutes to go, the writing was on the wall.
Brugge are sitting high and mighty at the top of the group with nine points, while Atletico, Porto and Bayer Leverkusen all remain stuck on three points.
Porto 2-0 Bayer Leverkusen
Bayer Leverkusen’s poor fortunes on a domestic front spilled into their European campaign as they were beaten away at Porto.
Chelsea loanee Callum Hudson-Odoi fired Leverkusen in front in the first-half, but his goal was chalked off for a foul in the build-up. Porto then went ahead themselves, but Mehdi Taremi’s goal was also disallowed and Leverkusen were awarded a penalty thanks to VAR. Patrik Schick missed from the spot, though, as the game somehow went into half-time goalless.
Porto finally drew first blood late into the second half when Zaidu Sanusi headed in at the back post. Galeno then put the seal on things for the hosts with four minutes to play as Jeremie Frimpong was sent off for Leverkusen.
Bayern Munich 5-0 Viktoria Plzen
In the early kick-off, Bayern Munich clinched a second win in as many games in all competitions with a complete thrashing of Viktoria Plzen.
Leroy Sane had his tail up from the first whistle and opened the scoring after seven minutes, before Serge Gnabry and Sadio Mane got in on the act to make it 3-0 well inside half an hour. Sane then secured his brace after the break, which was followed up by a goal for Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting for 5-0.
Julian Nagelsmann’s side now have nine points from nine in the group stages, while Plzen sit plum last having shipped 12 goals and scored just one.
Inter 1-0 Barcelona
Despite struggling in Serie A, Inter were able to hold on for a huge victory against Barcelona thanks to Hakan Calhanoglu.
Barcelona did have the ball in the back of the net for an equaliser in the second half, but VAR ruled that Ansu Fati had handled the ball in the build-up to Pedri’s goal and chalked it off as a result. Simone Inzaghi’s side did everything they could to hold onto such a slender lead which infuriated Xavi and Barcelona, who continued to knock but somehow couldn’t find a way through.
It wasn’t pretty and they certainly rode their luck by escaping strong penalty shouts, but Inter got the job done and ensured they sit above Barça in second place ahead of next week’s meeting at Camp Nou.
Eintracht Frankfurt 0-0 Tottenham
Spurs leave Germany frustrated, but can be content with their efforts as they played out to a goalless draw with last season’s Europa League winners.
A lack of goals wasn’t for the want of trying as both sides desperately tried to break the deadlock. Harry Kane and Son Heung-min began to breathe life into the game before half-time, but couldn’t put the gloss on their finishing. That continued after the break as neither side could find their range, with half-chances galore being spurned.
Level on the night means it’s level in the group table, too, with Spurs and Eintracht Frankfurt both sitting on four points after three games.
Marseille 4-1 Sporting CP
It took Sporting just 51 seconds to take the lead in France thanks to Francisco Trincao’s curled effort. So how, then, did they end up shipping four goals?
A combination of Marseille responding very well to falling behind early and the Portuguese outfit capitulating is the answer. Two quickfire goals had Marseille in front after 16 minutes, which was closely followed by Sporting goalkeeper Antonio Adan being shown a straight red card for a severe lapse in judgement.
Things went from bad to worse for Sporting as Leonardo Balerdi capitalised on a mistake from the substitute stopper. Chancel Mbemba added a misery-compiling fourth in the closing stages to give Marseille their first Champions League win of the season.
How can I watch the 2022/23 Champions League last 16 draw?
So, the excitement of the group stage is over. Having witnessed some European powers breeze through their groups and others progress by the skin of their teeth, we can now look forward to the thrill and the ‘there’s nothing quite like it’-feeling of Champions League knockout football.
Here’s all you need to know about the Champions League round of 16.
The draw for the first round of this campaign’s Champions League knockout phase will take place on Monday 7 November at 11:00 (GMT).
How to watch the 2022/23 Champions League last 16 draw in the UK
How to watch the 2022/23 Champions League last 16 draw in the United States and Canada
The eight group winners and the eight second-placed sides will feature in the Champions League round of 16 stage.
All four English teams that entered the competition have made it through to the knockout phase, with Tottenham, Chelsea and Manchester City joining Napoli, Porto, Bayern Munich, Benfica and reigning champions Real Madrid as the eight seeded sides.
Meanwhile, Liverpool are joined by Club Brugge, Inter, Eintracht Frankfurt, Milan, RB Leipzig, Borussia Dortmund and Paris Saint-Germain as the unseeded sides.
The table-toppers and runners-up will be drawn against each other – apart from those that competed in the same group and those from the same Associations.
We’ll be able to see these European heavyweights lock horns after the turn of the year, with the first legs set to be played over the 14 and 15 February, and the second legs over the 21 and 22.
We’ve got to get through a World Cup first, though.
Who could Tottenham face in the 2022.23 Champions League knockout stages?
Khvicha Kvaratskhelia: ‘My dream is to win the Champions League with Real Madrid’
Napoli winger Khvicha Kvaratskhelia, who we rank among the strong competitors for Ballon d’Or next year, has stood up on his greatest dream.
In a meeting with Corriere dello Sport, Kvaratskhelia: “My biggest dream? To win the Champions League. With who? With Real Madrid.
“Since I was a kid, I was a Real Madrid fan. Always watched their games,” the winger added in the interview just before joining Napoli for just €10m from Dinamo Batumi.
The Georgian technician has registered as many as 8 goals and 10 assists in just 17 games for the Neapolitans this season.
It’s why many top clubs seem to have their sights set on the Georgian international. But the man of the moment only dreams of Real Madrid.
Source: Corriere dello Sport (h/t Total Cristiano @ Twitter)
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