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Champions League

Napoli, PSG, Milan & Benfica win, Juventus beaten

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The Champions League just keeps on rolling, and thanks to Rangers’ clash with Napoli being delayed by 24 hours, we were treated to nine matches on Wednesday.

Graham Potter began his reign as Chelsea manager, Real Madrid hosted RB Leipzig and Erling Haaland faced Borussia Dortmund in a reunion at the Etihad Stadium.

Here’s a roundup of Wednesday’s action.

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Rangers 0-3 Napoli

Tanguy Ndombele was on the scoresheet for Napoli

Tanguy Ndombele was on the scoresheet for Napoli / Stu Forster/GettyImages

It was a tail of three goals and three penalties at Ibrox as 10-man Rangers were beaten 3-0 by Napoli.

The returning Alfredo Morelos came close to nodding Rangers into a second-minute lead, before Piotr Zielinski went down the other end and struck the post. But the rearranged match kicked into life at the start of the second half when James Sands was dismissed for two quick fouls, giving away a spot kick in the process.

Zielinski’s initial effort was saved by Allan McGregor, but Matteo Politano was on hand to tap in the rebound. However, VAR ruled that it had to be re-taken, and McGregor again stood tall to deny Zielinski.

The Serie A side were awarded another penalty when Borna Barisic was judged to have handled the ball, and this time Politano scored from 12 yards. Giacomo Raspadori added Napoli’s second with five minutes remaining before Tottenham loanee Tanguy Ndombele notched a third in injury time.

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Chelsea 1-1 Salzburg

Chelsea’s start to life under Graham Potter began with a frustrating 1-1 draw at home to Salzburg.

The Blues paid with a real intensity and hunger in the first half, and were rewarded for their efforts at the beginning of the second through Raheem Sterling.

However, some relaxed defending from Thiago Silva allowed Noah Okafor to equalise for a Salzburg side who had created very little all evening and the spoils were shared.

Milan 3-1 Dinamo Zagreb

Olivier Giroud opened the scoring for Milan

Olivier Giroud opened the scoring for Milan / Marco Luzzani/GettyImages

Milan chalked up their first Champions League win of the season with a 3-1 victory against Dinamo Zagreb at San Siro.

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The hosts were given the chance to take the lead on the stroke of half-time when Josip Sutalo clumsily brought down Rafael Leao in the penalty area. Olivier Giroud made no mistake from the spot.

On the other side of the break, the Rossoneri doubled their advantage when Leao’s cross was headed home by Alexis Saelemaekers.

Dinamo pulled one back when Bruno Petkovic dragged Fikayo Tomori and Pierre Kalulu away to allow Mislav Orsic the freedom to fire past Mike Maignan. But Milan made sure of victory 15 minutes from time at the end of a sweeping team move, with Tommaso Pobega firing into the roof of the net.

Shakhtar Donetsk 1-1 Celtic

Celtic will have felt they had done enough to beat Shakhtar Donetsk in Warsaw, but Ange Postecoglou’s men were held to a frustrating 1-1 draw.

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Matt O’Riley and Kyogo Furuhashi went close to breaking the deadlock in the opening exchanges, before one of Shakhtar’s own put the Hoops in front, with Artem Bondarenko deflecting the ball into his own net after 10 minutes.

However, Celtic were pegged back soon after when the electrifying Mykhaylo Mudryk peeled away from Josip Juranovic and fired past Joe Hart.

The visitors enjoyed a plethora of chances to go ahead again but squandered all of them, with Daizen Maeda notably firing wide from point-blank range in the dying embers.

Real Madrid 2-0 RB Leipzig

Federico Valverde celebrates his goal for Real Madrid

Federico Valverde celebrates his goal for Real Madrid / Eurasia Sport Images/GettyImages

Real Madrid left it late to beat RB Leipzig 2-0 and maintain their 100% European record this season.

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Thibaut Courtois had to be at his best to deny Christopher Nkunku in the opening five minutes, while the Frenchman was soon after denied a penalty after falling under a challenge from Nacho.

Timo Werner, who scored at the Santiago Bernabeu last season for Chelsea, nearly added further goals in the Spanish capital to his collection in the first half but couldn’t quite find the net.

Los Blancos were poor for long stretches but took the lead 10 minutes from time through the man of the moment Federico Valverde, who opened the scoring with a wonderful curling effort.

Marco Asensio made sure of victory with a stunner of his own in added time.

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Manchester City 2-1 Borussia Dortmund

Manchester City pulled off a remarkable late comeback to beat Borussia Dortmund 2-1 at the Etihad Stadium.

A dull first half was followed by an enthralling second in the north west, with Jude Bellingham’s flick on from Marco Reus’ deft cross giving BVB a shock lead.

However, John Stones thundered home an equaliser in the final 10 minutes, and Erling Haaland came back to bite the hand that used to feed him with a quite remarkable acrobatic strike not long after.

Kobenhavn 0-0 Sevilla

The only goalless game of the evening came in Denmark as Kobenhavn and Sevilla played out a 0-0 draw.

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Ivan Rakitic and Youssef En-Nesyri went close for the Spanish side in the first half, while Mohamed Daramy could have won it for the hosts in the second.

Both sides remain winless in this season’s competition, and the pressure remains firmly on under-fire Sevilla boss Julen Lopetegui.

Maccabi Haifa 1-3 PSG

Paris Saint-Germain eventually overcame Maccabi Haifa

Paris Saint-Germain eventually overcame Maccabi Haifa / Amir Levy/GettyImages

Paris Saint-Germain had to come from behind to beat relative minnows Maccabi Haifa 3-1 in Israel.

Maccabi Haifa took a shock lead when they caught PSG cold in midfield, resulting in Dolev Haziza crossing for former QPR star Tjaronn Chery to slam home.

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However, PSG equalised just before the break when Lionel Messi scored at point-blank range having met a deflected cross from Kylian Mbappe. Pressure from Les Parisiens eventually told and the French champions took a second-half lead when Messi split for the defence for Mbappe to finish perfectly.

Neymar got in on the act in the final few minutes to make sure of the points for Christophe Galtier’s side.

Juventus 1-2 Benfica

Massimiliano Allegri’s hopes of remaining in a job are hanging by a thread after Juventus lost 2-1 at home to Benfica.

After his late header against Salernitana was controversially and wrongly disallowed at the weekend, Arkadiusz Milik’s fourth-minute header did stand here to break the deadlock.

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From there on in, Benfica had the better of the first half. Rafa Silva rattled Mattia Perin’s post before they were awarded a penalty by VAR after Goncalo Ramos was tripped by Fabio Miretti.

Former West Ham midfielder Joao Mario stepped up and converted to deservedly bring Benfica level on the verge of half time.

Benfica took a deserved lead when Rafa’s initial effort was palmed away by Perin, only for David Neres to arrive on the scene and secure all three points for the visitors.

Juventus remain without a point in Group H and have an uphill task to reach the knockout stages now.

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Champions League

Lionel Messi breaks two Champions League records against Maccabi Haifa

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Lionel Messi’s goal against Maccabi Haifa saw him set two new Champions League records.

It wasn’t an easy night in Israel for Messi and PSG by any means, with the home side taking a shock lead 24 minutes in courtesy of Tjaronn Chery.

However, they couldn’t stay in front for long with Messi getting his team an equaliser just 13 minutes later.

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He spread the ball out wide to Kylian Mbappe who got to the byline and played it back, giving the Argentinian an easy finish from well inside the box. The goal proved to be the start of PSG’s comeback, with the French side going on to win 3-1, and that wasn’t the only reason it was significant.

With his goal, Messi scored against his 39th different club in the Champions League, setting a new record in the process.

Before that, he and long-term Cristiano Ronaldo were level on 38, and with Ronaldo not playing in the Champions League this season, the record is now set to be Messi’s for quite some time.

That wasn’t the only record the 35-year-old secured on Wednesday as Messi has now scored in 18 consecutive Champions League campaigns – every year since 2005/06 – accomplishing a feat never seen before.

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Perhaps the biggest record – most Champions League goals – still eludes him, with Ronaldo scoring 14 more, and it seems unlikely he’ll be able to make up such a margin before he retires, but it would take a brave man to put it past him.



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Champions League

Borussia Dortmund couldn’t stop me

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Erling Haaland has praised Borussia Dortmund for how they defended against Manchester City, but was keen to point out that they still couldn’t find a way to stop him.

Man City struggled to break the Bundesliga side down in what was an eventual 2-1 Champions League win on Wednesday, not having a single shot on target until John Stones’ 80th minute effort.

That shot on target was also their first goal, and their second one was the winner, with Haaland volleying his team to victory.

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The Norwegian praised the way his former team played and defended but issued a reminder that it wasn’t enough to stop him.

When told by an interview on BT Sport that BVB ‘clearly know how to stop you’, Haaland replied: “They didn’t stop me, I scored!

“But yeah, they played well and they were good, and I was quite sure I was going to be followed all game because they know me very well.

“Dortmund were really good today, and in the end, the three points is what matters.”

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Haaland’s goal was one of the best he’s scored, with the striker lifting his leg extremely high to turn in a stunning cross from Joao Cancelo.

The team’s first one wasn’t bad either, with Stones firing in from outside the box, but Haaland joked that his was the better of the two.

“Yeah, two wonderful goals today. I think mine was a bit better, honestly,” he added.

The 22-year-old now has just one goal less than Luis Suarez in the Champions League and only four fewer than Wayne Rooney.

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Champions League

Pep Guardiola lauds ‘exceptional’ Jude Bellingham after stellar Champions League outing

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Pep Guardiola was full of praise for the “exceptional” Jude Bellingham after he impressed in Borussia Dortmund’s 2-1 defeat to Manchester City in the Champions League.

The 19-year-old had put Dortmund on course for a surprise win at the Etihad Stadium when he headed home Marco Reus’ centre just before the hour mark, but the Bundesliga giants were unable to hold on as late goals from John Stones and Erling Haaland turned the tide in City’s favour.

Nevertheless, Dortmund were impressive in their defensive shape throughout the 90 minutes, as well as causing problems on the counter, and Bellingham was one of the more impressive performers on the night.

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Mixing finesse on the ball with wonderful vision and instinctive reading of the game, Bellingham out-duelled the likes of Kevin De Bruyne and Ilkay Gundogan for large periods, and showed why he’s one of the most highly-rated teenagers in world football.

Liverpool are long-term admirers of Bellingham, but judging by Guardiola’s comments after the game, there’s every chance City may look to sign the England international when the time comes for him to leave Dortmund.

“I was impressed two seasons ago when he was 17. Now he’s 19… he was good at 17, imagine now at 19,” Guardiola said of Bellingham. “He’s able to follow [Ilkay] Gundogan, Kevin [De Bruyne], win the duels, transitions are fast, to have the sense in the box for the goal he scored.

“So yes, an exceptional player. I think everybody knows it, not because the manager of Manchester City says it, everybody knows it.”

Bellingham’s manager at Dortmund, Edin Terzic, was equally full of praise for his display on the night, telling the assembled media: “Jude, like all the other players, gave a great performance in offensive and defensive terms. 

“He blocked so any passes and crosses and also got forward… once again, he was very good against Manchester City.”

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