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Champions League

Real Madrid, Man City & PSG win, Chelsea fall to shock loss

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The Champions League is back and the first night of group stage action didn’t disappoint.

There was a huge shock in the early kick-offs, some dominant wins for the favourites, and the first use of semi-automated offside calls.

Here’s a roundup of Tuesday’s action.

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Dinamo Zagreb 1-0 Chelsea

Chelsea’s bid to win a third Champions League title got off to the worst possible start with a surprise 1-0 defeat at Dinamo Zagreb.

Thomas Tuchel’s men started brightly in the Croatian capital, with debutant Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang initially linking up well with his new teammates.

But the Blues were beaten by a swift Dinamo counter attack, with Bruno Petkovic’s deft flick on for the lighting quick Mislav Orsic leaving Wesley Fofana and Kalidou Koulibaly in the dust, with the forward dinking over Kepa Arrizabalaga.

Chelsea improved after the break but failed to create a chance of note as Dinamo held on for a hard-fought victory.

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Salzburg 1-1 AC Milan

AC Milan will have been disappointed to have only drawn 1-1 away at Austrian champions Salzburg.

Stefano Pioli’s men finished bottom of their Champions League group last season and missed a real chance to put some distance between themselves and Chelsea early on this campaign.

A moment of magic from Noah Okafor gave the hosts a first-half lead. Fernando robbed Ismael Bennacer of possession and slipped through his Swiss strike partner, who nutmegged Pierre Kalulu and slotted past the onrushing Mike Maignan.

The Rossoneri were back on level terms shortly before the interval when Rafael Leao led a quick breakaway, with Olivier Giroud leaving his cross for Alexis Saelemaekers to slam home.

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Fernando and Divock Origi twice went close in the second half while Leao’s deflected effort smacked the upright deep into stoppage time as the spoils were shared.

Celtic 0-3 Real Madrid

Celtic were made to rue several missed chances as Real Madrid punished them at Parkhead.

Ange Postecoglou’s side created several big opportunities to break the deadlock and were handed an advantage when Karim Benzema had to be withdrawn with injury.

But Los Blancos took the lead just after half-time when Federico Valverde’s driven cross was steered in by Vinicius Junior.

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Luka Modric grabbed Real’s second minutes later, before the impressive Eden Hazard rounded off the scoring.

RB Leipzig 1-4 Shakhtar Donetsk

Shakhtar Donetsk stunned RB Leipzig at the Red Bull Arena to take top spot in Group F at the end of matchday one.

Goalkeeper Peter Gulasci gifted Shakhtar an early lead when he was caught in possession by Maryan Shved, who was able to put the ball into an empty net.

Leipzig grabbed an equaliser when Mohamed Simakan beat Anatolii Trubin at his near post, before Shved secured his brace immediately from the resulting kick-off to restore the Ukrainians’ lead.

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Arsenal and Brentford transfer target Mykhaylo Mudryk netted Shakhtar’s third at the end of swift breakaway, before Lassina Traore compounded Leipzig’s misery with a late tap in.

Borussia Dortmund 3-0 FC Kobenhavn

Borussia Dortmund have now won three matches in a row since their infamous late defeat to Werder Bremen last month, beating Danish champions Kobenhavn 3-0 at Signal Iduna Park.

Marco Reus was first on the scoresheet at the end of a well-worked team move involving Niklas Sule and Julian Brandt, sweeping past goalkeeper Mat Ryan.

Reus was involved for Dortmund’s second soon after, setting up Raphael Guerreiro to slip away from Kobenhavn’s backline and play a neat one-two with Gio Reyna around Ryan to double the lead.

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Jude Bellingham added’s Dortmund’s third with seven minutes remaining, before a Rasmun Falk goal for the visitors was ruled out by VAR’s new semi-automated offside system.

Sevilla 0-4 Manchester City

Erling Haaland’s red-hot form continued in Manchester City’s 4-0 win at Sevilla.

The Norwegian’s first goal of the evening came after tapping in a wicked Kevin De Bruyne cross after just 20 minutes.

City had to wait until just before the hour mark to grab their second. Phil Foden managed to weave his way past Nemanja Gudelj and find the bottom corner.

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Foden then had a shot saved from Bono, who parried the effort straight into the path of a grateful Haaland to secure his brace.

Sevilla’s night went from bad to worse as Ruben Dias was quickest to a low Joao Cancelo cross to notch City’s fourth.

PSG 2-1 Juventus

Paris Saint-Germain came out on top in the glamour tie of the evening, beating Juventus 2-1 at Parc des Princes.

Kylian Mbappe found the back of the net after just five minutes when Neymar flicked the ball right over the top of a stunned Juve backline, with his French forward partner smashing into the far corner.

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The 23-year-old secured his brace soon after with a similarly ferocious effort, with Achraf Hakimi this time playing provider.

Massimiliano Allegri’s men threatened to make a game of it after the break when Weston McKennie nodded in a Filip Kostic cross, but the Bianconeri failed to create much more and fell to defeat.

Benfica 2-0 Maccabi Haifa

Benfica have now won all ten of their matches so far this season, with their latest coming against Maccabi Haifa.

After a tough and turgid first half, Rafa Silva broke the deadlock just after the break, volleying home at the front post from a clever Alex Grimaldo cross.

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Grimaldo then added Benfica’s second minutes later with one of the goals of the season, curling past Josh Cohen from 30 yards to give the hosts a comfortable lead to ride out.



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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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