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Champions League PIX: Barca knock Inter; Ajax ejected

December 11, 2019 09:27 IST

It was a dramatic night at the Champions League as Barcelona's Anssumane Fati -- 17 years and 40 days old – became the youngest to net a goal in the competition. Last season’s semi-finalists, Ajax were eliminated by Valencia while Napoli’s coach Ancelotti was shown the door despite the team’s progress.

Here are Images from the Champions League matches played on Tuesday

Barcelona's Anssumane Fati celebrates with teammates after scoring their second goal against Inter Milan at San Siro during their Champions League Group F match in Milan, Italy.

IMAGE: Barcelona's Anssumane Fati celebrates with teammates after scoring their second goal against Inter Milan at San Siro during their Champions League Group F match in Milan, Italy. Photograph: Daniele Mascolo/Reuters

Inter Milan crashed out of the Champions League on Tuesday after 17-year-old Ansu Fati became the youngest scorer in the competition’s history by firing in a late winner to seal Barcelona's 2-1 victory at San Siro.

Barca coach Ernesto Valverde rested Lionel Messi and several other key players for the trip to Milan, having already secured top spot in Group F, but Carles Perez put the Spaniards in front on his Champions League debut after just 23 minutes before Romelu Lukaku levelled on the stroke of halftime.

 

Inter striker Lautaro Martinez had the ball in the net twice after the break, only for both goals to be disallowed for offside, before Fati smashed in a sublime finish inside the final five minutes.

The Italian side needed to at least match Borussia Dortmund’s result against Slavia Prague to maintain second place, but the Germans won 2-1 to move into the runner-up spot and consign Inter to a Europa League place.

Barcelona top the group with 14 points ahead of Dortmund on 10, while Inter finish third on seven ahead of rock-bottom Slavia Prague on two.

Valverde left Messi, Sergi Roberto and Gerard Pique at home and the likes of Marc-Andre Ter Stegen, Luis Suarez, Sergio Busquets and Frenkie de Jong on the bench as he fielded a youthful side in an experimental 3-5-2 formation that mirrored Inter’s tactical set-up.

"There were many new things, between the players and the system. I made my choices based on the players I had available," Valverde said, while praising Fati as a "born goalscorer".

"At the start Inter put us under great pressure, but little by little that intensity reduced and we managed to get into their half," he added.

The hosts started with intent, as a last-gasp Clement Lenglet block denied Lukaku’s close-range effort before Barcelona’s debutant goalkeeper Neto was forced into a good save to deny Cristiano Biraghi’s rasping shot.

However, it was the visitors who broke the deadlock against the run of play on the 23rd minute, when Antoine Griezmann’s drilled pass was diverted into the path of Perez and the 21-year-old made no mistake from close range.

Inter’s partnership of Martinez and Lukaku looked threatening throughout the first half and they combined for the equaliser on the brink of half-time, when Martinez showed great strength to hold off a defender and tee up the Belgian, whose low strike flew into the bottom corner.

Lukaku had a great chance to put the hosts in front on the hour mark when he outmuscled a defender to go one-on-one with the goalkeeper, but Neto was out quickly to charge down his shot.

Martinez thought he had found the breakthrough when he chested down a through ball and fired home, before being denied by the offside flag, and Inter again had a goal chalked off when Lukaku was in an offside position before Martinez prodded in from close range.

“We had the chances to win the game, we created those opportunities, but lacked that clinical edge to convert them,” Inter coach Antonio Conte told Sky Sport Italia.

“I have no complaints to make, as my players gave their all. We just lacked a goal and instead conceded at the other end to go 2-1 down, which really killed us."

It was Fati -- 17 years and 40 days old -- who stole the show just a minute after coming off the bench, exchanging passes with Suarez on the edge of the area before the winger arrowed his low shot in off the post.

Valencia eliminate Ajax and progress with Rodrigo winner

Valencia's Rodrigo celebrates with teammates on netting the opening goal against Ajax Amsterdam in their Champions League Group H match at the Johan Cruijff Arena in Amsterdam, Netherlands

IMAGE: Valencia's Rodrigo celebrates with teammates on netting the opening goal against Ajax Amsterdam in their Champions League Group H match at the Johan Cruijff Arena in Amsterdam, Netherlands. Photograph: Piroschka van de Wouw/Reuters

Valencia's Rodrigo scored the game's only goal as they upset hosts Ajax Amsterdam 1-0 on Tuesday to finish top of Champions League Group H and eliminate the Dutch title winners from this season's competition.

The 24th-minute strike from the Brazil-born Spain international saw Valencia finish ahead of Chelsea, 2-1 victors over Lille, by virtue of the head-to-head result between the two teams, as both ended on 11 points to Ajax's 10.

"We put in such an effort against Chelsea and didn't get the job done, but this side doesn't get tired of working miracles and we've done another tonight," the elated Rodrigo told uefa.com.

"I'm delighted because this side is a big family. I don't have the words to describe my team mates. These last three years we've created something special and we're so together. We've taken a great club back to where it's not been for a long time."

Ajax, the fairytale story of last season's competition with their giant-slaying run from the early preliminary rounds to the semi-final, had needed only to draw their last group game to advance to the last-16.

Yet they looked flat and listless in going down to the Spanish side, who ended with 10 men after the sending off of Gabriel Paulista in stoppage time. The Dutch champions drop down to the Europa League after finishing third.

Rodrigo enjoyed the game's key moment, burying the ball into the top right-hand corner after being teed up by a clever dummy from Ferran Torres, who first feinted to shoot before passing.

The unlikely win left Valencia coach Albert Celades thrilled. "We've had a very good group stage, and to finish top of the group is something. It's all down to the boys," he said.

"Since I came into this club, I told the boys I'm lucky to coach a group like them, with such incredible values and the way they triumph over adversity."

Ajax had begun the game looking confident but were sloppy in their execution and failed to make use of their dominance of possession with uncharacteristically slow build-ups.

It was only after 43 minutes that they threatened with Donny van de Beek trying to hook the ball in from a difficult angle but Valencia veteran Jose Gaya cleared off the goal line.

The half ended with Ajax goalkeeper Andre Onana making a key save to deny Rodrigo a second after the Valencia striker had easily sold Daley Blind a dummy to set up a chance right in front of goal.

A halftime switch for Ajax allowed Hakim Ziyech more freedom to roam as flying fullback Sergino Dest came on but the Morocco international missed a golden 66th minute chance, scuffing a pass from Van de Beek with the Valencia defence at sea.

Ajax brought on 36-year-old targetman Klaas-Jan Huntelaar to try and unlock the Valencia defence in the last 20 minutes but the closing stages were bogged down by squabbles and frequent stoppages, which worked in Valencia's favour.

Yet Valencia centre back Paulista was sent off for an attempted headbutt in a petulant melee deep in stoppage time.

Ancelotti sacked despite Napoli's progress

Napoli's Dries Mertens and KRC Genk's Joakim Maehle battle for possession during their Champions League Group E match at Stadio San Paolo in Naples, Italy

IMAGE: Napoli's Dries Mertens and KRC Genk's Joakim Maehle battle for possession during their Champions League Group E match at Stadio San Paolo in Naples, Italy . Photograph: Ciro De Luca/Reuters

Napoli coach Carlo Ancelotti was sacked shortly after watching his side end a nine-match winless run in all competitions to reach the Champions League last sixteen on Tuesday.

His side, inspired by a first-half hat-trick from Arkadiusz Milik, outclassed Genk 4-0 in Group E but the 60-year-old was shown the door just three hours after the final whistle, with Italian media naming Gennaro Gattuso as favourite to replace him.

Napoli finished second in the table with 12 points, one behind Liverpool, while their Belgian opponents finished bottom of the group with one point. Salzburg came third to qualify for the Europa League last 32.

Genk's Maarten Vandevoordt, who at 17 years and 287 days became the youngest goalkeeper to play in the UEFA Champions League, had a nightmare start as he gave the ball away under pressure and allowed Milik to score in the third minute.

The Pole fired the second in the 26th minute and converted a penalty in the 38th before Dries Mertens, on his 300th Napoli appearance, completed the scoring with another penalty a quarter of an hour from the end.

Both Gazzetta dello Sport and Corriere dello Sport had reported before the game that Ancelotti was set to be fired whatever the result.

Ancelotti claimed after the game that he was still hopeful of keeping his job and that he was due to meet club owner and president Aurelio De Laurentiis on Wednesday.

"I hope to stay but that is a decision the president will make. This team has quality which they have shown in the Champions League but not in the league.

"They haven't said anything to me, I was just preparing the match. Will I resign? I've never done that in my life."

But just before midnight, Napoli issued a statement confirming his dismissal.

There was a downbeat mood right from the start of Tuesday's game when the hosts were greeted by a lukewarm reception, with the San Paolo stadium less than one quarter full.

But Napoli responded brightly, Kalidou Koulibaly scraping the crossbar immediately with a header.

Vandevoordt then collected a pass in his penalty area but was pressured by Napoli forwards and Milik had an easy job to score as the teenager lost the ball.

After Joseph Paintsil skimmed the post for Genk, Napoli went further ahead when Allan sent Giovanni Di Lorenzo down the right and his cross was turned in at the near post by Milik.

Allan then sent Calderon through and he flicked the ball over Vandevoordt, was tripped and Milik converted from the spot.

When Casper de Norre gave away another penalty with a handball it was Mertens who converted with a Panenka-style chip down the middle of the goal to complete Nepali's first win since Oct. 23.

Former Chelsea, Real Madrid and Bayer Munich coach Ancelotti led Napoli to second place in Series A last season but his team has suffered a loss of form this term and they fell out with De Laurentiis after he ordered the players to be confined to a week-long training camp.

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