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.
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.”
Man City & Chelsea win, PSG held by Benfica
Matchday three of the 2022/23 Champions League group stage concluded on Wednesday night, with the likes of Real Madrid, Chelsea, Manchester City, Juventus and Paris Saint-Germain all in action.
But while Real, Chelsea, City and Juve were ultimately satisfied with their respective results, it was a night of disappointment for PSG.
Read on to see how all the action unfolded across eight games.
Red Bull Salzburg 1-0 Dinamo Zagreb
Red Bull Salzburg had 18 attempts on goal against Dinamo Zagreb but were made to wait until the final 20 minutes to break the deadlock – and it came from a Noah Okafor penalty.
It was an important win for Salzburg as it keeps them above Chelsea and puts them top of the group at the halfway stage of this round after leapfrogging AC Milan.
But this group is tight and Dinamo are still only two points off top spot themselves.
Chelsea 3-0 AC Milan
Chelsea made light work of a surprisingly poor AC Milan at Stamford Bridge, with Wesley Fofana scoring his first goal for the club in the first half shortly before going off injured.
Thiago Silva shone at the back for Graham Potter’s Blues, wreaking havoc at set-pieces and commanding things defensively. The second goal later came from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, assisted by Reece James, who then rounded things off with a goal of his own.
Milan had started the game with some promise and missed a gilt-edged chance in first half stoppage time to make it 1-1, but then looked unforgivably disinterested after the break.
RB Leipzig 3-1 Celtic
Having lost 3-0 to Real Madrid on matchday one, Celtic still only have a single point in Group F as a result of another defeat in which they conceded three goals.
Christopher Nkunku gave the German side a first half lead when he found the bottom corner with his left foot. But even though Celtic did equalise almost straight after the interval through Jota, Leipzig’s superior quality and European experience eventually prevailed.
Dominik Szoboszlai saw a goal chalked off for offside by VAR at the hour mark, moments before Andre Silva actually restored the Leipzig lead. The Portuguese front-man was also responsible for taking the game away from Celtic with just over 10 minutes to go, scoring from close range.
Real Madrid 2-1 Shakhtar Donetsk
Real Madrid bounced back from the disappointment of their first dropped points of the season in La Liga at the weekend to maintain a 100% record in the defence of their Champions League title.
Although after 3-0 and 2-0 wins over Celtic and RB Leipzig respectively so far, Shakhtar Donetsk ran Los Blancos closest in terms of the score-line.
Shakhtar goalkeeper Anatolii Trubin made 11 saves at the Bernabeu as Real peppered shots at his goal. Rodrygo and Vinicius Junior did each score inside half an hour, yet Real couldn’t extend their advantage, allowing Oleksandr Zubkov to pull one back and make it closer than it ought to have been.
Man City 5-0 Copenhagen
Manchester City made such light work of Copenhagen at the Etihad Stadium that Pep Guardiola saw fit to withdraw Erling Haaland at half-time – denying the prolific Norwegian what could have been a fourth hat-trick since joining the club in summer.
Haaland was not the only City player who impressed, with Jack Grealish and Ilkay Gundogan also producing top quality performances.
City were never not in control here, with Haaland’s first coming just seven minutes in. He doubled his team’s lead after half an hour and the hosts went further ahead through an own goal, before Riyad Mahrez and Julian Alvarez struck in a procession of a second half.
Sevilla 1-4 Borussia Dortmund
Not to be outdone by their former marksman, Borussia Dortmund got four goals in a noteworthy away win over a Sevilla side that has struggled so far in this group stage.
Raphael Guerreiro broke the deadlock early and Dortmund were three goals to the good before time thanks to further strikes from young stars Jude Bellingham and Karim Adeyemi. Youssef En-Nesyri gave Sevilla the faintest of glimmers, before Julian Brandt got Dortmund’s fourth.
At this stage, Dortmund are simply hanging onto Manchester City’s coat tails, with both clubs pulling away from the others in the group.
Juventus 3-1 Maccabi Haifa
Juventus finally put a nightmarish start to this season’s Champions League campaign behind, banishing the pain of back-to-back defeats with a welcome win over Maccabi Haifa.
Adrien Rabiot has waited for a goal since the 2020/21 season, but suddenly two came along as the Frenchman both started and finished things on the night. His first was a left-footed strike high into the net, while his second came in the form of a close-range header.
In between, Angel Di Maria assisted Dusan Vlahovic, while Dean David at one stage put Maccabi back into the game by making it 2-1 and potentially setting up a nervous finish for Juve.
Benfica 1-1 Paris Saint-Germain
Despite Lionel Messi’s stunning curling first-time finish for Paris Saint-Germain against Benfica in Lisbon, it was ultimately a disappointing night for the reigning French champions.
PSG simply didn’t make their greater share of the possession count and, even with Messi, Neymar and Kylian Mbappe on the pitch, were unable to create enough quality chances to extend their early lead to allow them to kill the game off.
It was 1-1 by half-time as a result of Danilo Pereira inadvertently finding his own net. If anything, Benfica had the better opportunities to actually win the game.
Rabiot double secures vital Champions League points
Juventus finally got their Champions League campaign off the floor with a comfortable 3-1 victory over Maccabi Haifa on Wednesday.
Going into the game, both sides were locked at the bottom of group H without any points on the board, meaning a win would likely prove pivotal for whoever could find one.
It was always going to be a tough ask for the visitors to head to the Allianz Stadium and pull off an upset. But with Juve enduring a turbulent season on all fronts thus far, anything was possible and they knew that themselves better than anyone else.
A good start was imperative, then, which Massimiliano Allegri’s side managed to carve out. Juve started brightly and a returning Angel Di Maria looked lively, but they weren’t in complete control and Maccabi were able to get forward themselves on the break.
Just as the visitors were slowly tempting their way into the contest, though, the Old Lady struck and drew first blood after 35 minutes, Adrien Rabiot popping up with a curled effort from Di Maria’s pass.
One quickly became two early on in the second half as Di Maria found Dusan Vlahovic, who smashed the ball low and beyond the goalkeeper from outside of the box after 50 minutes.
With breathing space to operate in, the Bianconeri found their stride and enjoyed a spell of dominance. That was until a flurry of changes brought Maccabi back into the game on the hour mark. They finally made good on their chances with 15 minutes to play; Dean David struck following a counter attack to make for a nervy end to the game.
Any sudden hopes of a comeback for the away side were quashed when Rabiot popped up to head in his second of the night after 83 minutes, putting the seal on the victory and ensuring Juve got off the mark.
It’s a huge three points for Allegri’s side, who came off the pitch to the news that Paris Saint-Germain and Benfica had played out to a draw elsewhere in group H.
Juve now sit four points behind both PSG and Benfica in third, but a win next week in Haifa would suddenly open the group up significantly.
Player ratings as Blues secure first Champions League win of 2022/23
Chelsea cruised to what was eventually a very comfortable 3-0 Champions League victory over AC Milan at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday night, their first European win this season.
Wesley Fofana gave Chelsea a first half lead before his night ended prematurely because of injury, with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Reece James going on to add second and third goals.
Early on, a confident Milan hardly looked like the visitors with a decent start to the game, although it was Mason Mount who enjoyed the best chance when he sent Ciprian Tatarusanu sprawling low to his left to beat away a shot bound for the bottom corner.
A flurry of Chelsea set-pieces midway through the first half presented the hosts with another good opportunity, but Tatarusanu was equal to Thiago Silva’s header.
It was clear though that it could be a way through for Chelsea and indeed it led to a goal when Silva got his head to another delivery a few moments later. Tatarusanu could this time only weakly parry the ball back into danger and Fofana gladly pounced on the rebound for a tap-in.
Mount did have the ball in the net at the half hour mark, cleverly lifting the ball over Tatarusanu, but the Chelsea player had been offside when he was put through.
However, despite coming to dominate, the fragility of a 1-0 lead showed when Rade Krunic blazed a glorious Milan chance over the crossbar in first half stoppage time. It was similar to Chelsea’s opener on the rebound after a weak parry, but Krunic didn’t have Fofana’s accuracy or composure.
Ultimately, Milan’s initial promise faded quite badly and Chelsea’s second goal early in the second half was the result of a pretty woeful attempt at defending. Fode Ballo-Toure ambled to close down a James cross from the right, while Fikayo Tomori completely misjudged things to allow Aubameyang an easy finish from close range.
Milan’s collapse signalled Chelsea’s third. The Rossoneri were all over the place as Chelsea moved the ball quickly and Raheem Sterling fed the advancing James into right-hand side of the penalty area. His near-post finish was clinical, albeit poor from Tatarusanu.
Both managers made the maximum number of changes, which ultimately slowed and killed any chance of rhythm the game had. That probably suited Chelsea in the end because it allowed them to just sit on their lead. Milan, knowing the result was done, basically obliged.
GK: Kepa Arrizabalaga – 5/10 – Didn’t have to do that much but should have done better with a poor parry when it was only 1-0.
CB: Wesley Fofana – 6/10 – Turned poacher in the opposite penalty area for his first Chelsea goal. But his night ended in the first half due to injury.
CB: Thiago Silva – 8/10 – Commanding at the back and a real danger from attacking set-pieces. A big night against his former club.
CB: Kalidou Kouliably – 6/10 – In for his first minutes under Potter. Important that he got a chance in a comfortable setting.
RM: Reece James – 8/10 – Supremely technically gifted and comes away with a goal and assist. Leao also caused no problems.
CM: Ruben Loftus-Cheek – 7/10 – Did a good job on both sides of the ball, highlighting just hos bad Milan were. Also gets the assist for the opener.
CM: Mateo Kovacic – 6/10 – Will face much tougher challenges than this.
LM: Ben Chilwell – 6/10 – Overshadowed by James on the opposite flank but put in a commendable performance.
RF: Raheem Sterling – 7/10 – Fouled a few times but worked hard for the win. Got his reward with a measure assist for the third goal.
ST: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang – 7/10 – Scored for the second time in a matter of days, showing just what he can offer this team.
LF: Mason Mount – 7/10 – Found the net but was correctly flagged offside and generally posed a threat.
SUB: Trevoh Chalobah – (38′ for Fofana) – 6/10
SUB: Conor Gallagher (65′ for Aubameyang) – 7/10
SUB: Jorginho (66′ for Kovacic) – 6/10
SUB: Kai Havertz (74′ for Mount) – 6/10
SUB: Armando Broja (75′ for Sterling) – 6/10
Manager: Graham Potter – 7/10 – Made a few changes from the weekend, but his job was more straightforward because of how disappointing Milan were.
GK: Ciprian Tatarusanu – 3/10 – Started with a couple of decent saves but looked progressively worse as the game continued.
RB: Sergino Dest – 3/10 – Easy to forget he was even on the pitch. Struggled to cope with Mount.
CB: Pierre Kalulu – 5/10 – It wasn’t a high bar by any stretch of the imagination, but he was Milan’s best defender.
CB: Fikayo Tomori – 4/10 – Didn’t cover himself in glory when he was hoping to prove a point against his former club. At fault for the second goal.
LB: Fode Ballo-Toure – 3/10 – Very poor attempt at defending for Chelsea’s killer second goal. The third also came down his side.
CM: Ismael Bennacer (c) – 3/10 – Questions should be asked of his poor marking at multiple set-pieces. Really struggled generally.
CM: Sandro Tonali – 4/10 – Sat very deep; probably too deep.
RM: Rade Krunic – 5/10 – Booked mere minutes into the game. Should have equalised in first half stoppage time.
AM: Charles De Ketelaere – 5/10 – Saw a decent attempt saved in first half stoppage time but it was his only real involvement.
LM: Rafael Leao – 5/10 – Came into this game with major expectations on his shoulders and didn’t live up to it beyond some early flashes.
ST: Olivier Giroud – 4/10 – Completely starved of service. At least he got a nice reception from the Stamford Bridge crowd.
SUB: Ante Rebic (65′ for De Ketelaere) – 5/10
SUB: Matteo Gabbia (65′ for Krunic) – 5/10
SUB: Brahim Diaz (72′ for Leao) – 5/10
SUB: Divock Origi (73′ for Giroud) – 5/10
SUB: Tommaso Pobega (73′ for Bennacer) – 5/10
Manager: Stefano Pioli – 5/10 – His team started with some brightness but that disappeared and by the second half they appeared to have given up. He couldn’t change that and substitutions came too late.
Player of the match – Thiago Silva
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