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Rediff.com  » Sports » Champions League PIX: City top group; Barca, Dortmund in last 16

Champions League PIX: City top group; Barca, Dortmund in last 16

November 29, 2023 09:37 IST
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IMAGES from the Champions League matches played on Tuesday.

Manchester City claim top spot after recovering to beat Leipzig 3-2

Manchester City's Julian Alvarez celebrates scoring their third goal with Erling Braut Haaland during their Group G match against RB Leipzig at Etihad Stadium, Manchester.

IMAGE: Manchester City's Julian Alvarez celebrates scoring their third goal with Erling Braut Haaland during their Group G match against RB Leipzig at Etihad Stadium, Manchester. Photograph: Molly Darlington/Reuters

Manchester City's Julian Alvarez scored in the 87th minute as the European champions clawed their way back from two goals down to beat RB Leipzig 3-2 and clinch top spot in Champions League Group G on Tuesday with one round of matches remaining.

 

Erling Haaland and Phil Foden also netted in the second period after one of City's most underwhelming recent first-half performances to give Pep Guardiola's team 15 points after five games. Leipzig, who had also reached the last 16, have nine.

"First half was the worst I've seen us," midfielder Foden told TNT. "Courage and motivation changed it around. This team has great mentality and its so nice to see."

Haaland added another record to his bulging resume, becoming the fastest player to 40 Champions League goals. The striker became the quickest to 50 Premier League goals on Saturday.

Lois Openda pounced on a pair of City defensive blunders for both Leipzig goals, sprinting onto a long ball from goalkeeper Janis Blaswich that bounced over a lackadaisical Manuel Akanji in the 13th minute. He struck again with seemingly similar ease in the 33rd, spinning around Ruben Dias en route to scoring.

"We had to be as relaxed as possible and we reacted really well," Guardiola told TNT. "We are first in the group and I am very satisfied for the reaction at the end. The team runs and fights and has spirit."

Haaland, who poured in five goals against Leipzig in a 7-0 rout in the Champions League last 16 in March, finally gave City fans something to cheer in the 54th minute when he ran onto a pass from Foden and struck a low left-foot shot into the net.

"We just needed that (first) goal to get going," Foden said. "Even the fans were a lot louder after the goal. Once the first went in the motivation was there. We've got a great record at the Etihad and it only takes one goal to change things."

City levelled with Foden's excellent first touch and finish in the 70th and Alvarez fired the hosts ahead when Foden's pass was deflected into his path for a close-range effort.

"What I told the guys was that we made (City) angry in the first half," Leipzig manager Marco Rose told reporters. "If we kept the clean sheet a little bit longer, maybe then the chance became bigger to win or to take something home."

Guardiola's side narrowly avoided their first defeat in European competition at the Etihad since a group stage loss to Olympique Lyonnais in 2018, which was also the last time City trailed by two goals the Champions League.

Three days after their 1-1 top-of-the-table Premier League draw with Liverpool, City looked like zombies through the first half, although they had a flurry of chances before the break, their best being Dias's header over the bar.

It was Guardiola's second comeback from a two-goal deficit in his Champions League managerial career after his Bayern Munich side rallied to beat Juventus in the 2016 quarter-finals.

City finish the group stage at Red Star Belgrade on December 13.

Young Boys, who are third on four points, secured a place in the Europa league knockout round playoffs with a 2-0 home win over Red Star. The Belgrade side are bottom with one point.

'Group of death' delivers as PSG, Newcastle and Milan all stay in hunt

Paris St Germain's Kylian Mbappe celebrates scoring their first goal against Newcastle United during their Group F match at Parc des Princes Stadium in Paris, France.

IMAGE: Paris St Germain's Kylian Mbappe celebrates scoring their first goal against Newcastle United during their Group F match at Parc des Princes Stadium in Paris, France. Photograph: Stephane Mahe/Reuters

When the Champions League draw was made Group F always looked like being too close to call and it will duly go right down to the wire with French aristocrats Paris St Germain still in control of their destiny, but only just.

Manager Luis Enrique was breathing a massive sigh of relief on Tuesday as Kylian Mbappe struck home a penalty in the eighth minute of stoppage time to earn a 1-1 draw at home to Newcastle United who had been on the brink of a memorable double.

The visitors were desperately defending the lead given to them by Swedish striker Alexander Isak midway through the first half but suffered heartbreak when Tino Livramento was harshly-adjudged to have handled as an Ousmane Dembele pass bounced off his chest and against his elbow.

Mbappe netted from the spot to earn a point which left PSG in second spot with seven points, three behind already-qualified Borussia Dortmund who they face in their final group match.

PSG, who have reached the last-16 at least for the last 11 seasons, know that only a win in Dortmund will guarantee a last-16 place, but such is the complexity of a high-octane group they could also lose and still progress.

Newcastle must beat seven-time European champions Milan in their last game and hope PSG do not win if they are to grab second spot, while Milan could also still reach the last-16 with a victory at St James' Park.

"The most important thing is to focus on ourselves. If we win, we're going to finish first, but even if we lose, we can go through to the next phase," Luis Enrique, whose side lost 4-1 away to Newcastle, said. "It's so complicated, but I hope we can make it easier by winning against Dortmund."

His side had 31 goal attempts against Newcastle on Tuesday but contrived to miss chances galore. "I think we deserved to win, we created a lot of clear chances and, at times, it was difficult to get the ball in," the Spaniard said.

Newcastle were crestfallen as they trudged off the Parc des Princes pitch with a burning sense of injustice.

They have a long injury list and were out on their feet but had heroes all over the pitch including keeper Nick Pope and 17-year-old midfielder Lewis Miley, the third-youngest English player to start in the Champions League and the unlucky left back Livramento, another young Englishman with a bright future.

Manager Eddie Howe was admirably restrained about the penalty awarded by referee Szymon Marciniak after VAR instructed him to view a pitchside monitor, more so than former Newcastle striker Alan Shearer who described the decision as disgusting.

"I thought the referee was having a good game up until this moment. He had been strong," Howe said.

But he was not too downhearted and said Newcastle will go into the home clash against Milan with high hopes of reaching the last 16 on their long-awaited return to the competition.

"We're still in it. That's another thing we can't forget. We could easily have come here and have not been in the competition anymore," he said. "We still believe. As much as it's a huge, deflating feeling -- it could be another story in our season."

Dortmund reach Champions League last 16 with 3-1 win at Milan

Borussia Dortmund booked their spot in the Champions League last 16 by beating AC Milan 3-1 at the San Siro in a lively Group F clash on Tuesday.

Marco Reus, Jamie Bynoe-Gittens and Karim Adeyemi were all on target to help Dortmund top the group on 10 points, with Paris St Germain, who drew 1-1 against Newcastle United, second on seven.

Milan, bottom on five points from five games, can still secure a top-two finish if they win at Newcastle and Dortmund beat PSG in the final round of games next month.

"If we avoid looking at our attacks in the first half, we did well," said Dortmund defender and player of the match Mats Hummels.

"With our possession, we managed to keep the atmosphere in check. It is great to play Champions League in such a stadium. We want to deliver again at home in two weeks and secure first place in front of our fans."

Dortmund will be confirmed as group winners if they avoid a home defeat by PSG.

Milan could have taken an early lead when they were awarded a penalty for a handball but Dortmund keeper Gregor Kobel pulled off a superb save to deny Olivier Giroud from the spot in the sixth minute.

The tables turned four minutes later when Dortmund midfielder Reus put the visitors in front with a penalty kick after the referee pointed to the spot following Davide Calabria's foul on Bynoe-Gittens.

Samuel Chukwueze levelled for Milan from inside the box eight minutes before halftime, scoring his first goal for the seven-time European champions since he joined from LaLiga side Villarreal in July.

Chukwueze filled in admirably for the absent Rafael Leao in the opening 45 minutes, after the Portuguese suffered a thigh injury in a Serie A match two weeks ago.

However, the hosts lost their spark after the break and the 19-year-old Bynoe-Gittens restored the lead for Dortmund just before the hour mark with a low shot from the edge of the box from an excellent Marcel Sabitzer pass.

Substitute Adeyemi made it 3-1 in the 69th minute after Milan keeper Mike Maignan twice tried to claw his powerful shot away but the ball made it past the goal line anyway.

Dortmund forward Niclas Fuellkrug came close to increasing the scoreline two minutes from time but his shot crashed against the bar, three minutes after Milan's Luka Jovic had hit the post with a header.

European champions in 1997, Dortmund began their Champions League season with a 2-0 loss in Paris before being held to a goalless draw at home by Milan but breathed life into their campaign by beating Newcastle both away (1-0) and at home (2-0).

Barcelona beat Porto to secure Champions League last-16 spot

FC Barcelona's Lamine Yamal celebrates after their Group H  match against FC Porto at Estadi Olimpic Lluis Companys, Barcelona

IMAGE: FC Barcelona's Lamine Yamal celebrates after their Group H match against FC Porto at Estadi Olimpic Lluis Companys, Barcelona. Photograph: Albert Gea/Reuters

Joao Cancelo and Joao Felix scored in each half to earn Barcelona a 2-1 comeback win at home against Porto on Tuesday that booked their spot in the Champions League knockout rounds for the first time in three seasons.

The visitors wasted several chances before Pepe put them in front in the 30th minute with a close-range strike from a rebound, but Barca hit back quickly, with a fine curling shot into the top corner by Cancelo two minutes later.

Cancelo was excellent running down the left channel and teed up Joao Felix for a tidy first-time finish in the 57th minute to secure the win.

Barcelona are top of Group H on 12 points, three ahead Porto and Shakhtar Donetsk who will play each other on the final matchday to decide who will join Barca in the knockout stage.

Two own goals help Atletico Madrid reach Champions League knockout stage

Atletico Madrid's Mario Hermoso celebrates scoring their second goal with teammates during their Group E match against Feyenoord at De Kuip, Rotterdam, Netherlands

IMAGE: Atletico Madrid's Mario Hermoso celebrates scoring their second goal with teammates during their Group E match against Feyenoord at De Kuip, Rotterdam, Netherlands. Photograph: Piroschka Van De Wouw/Reuters

Two own goals plus a brilliant Mario Hermoso hooked volley gave Atletico Madrid a 3-1 win at Feyenoord on Tuesday and a place in the Champions League last 16 while eliminating the hosts.

Feyenoord's Lutsharel Geertruida put the ball into his own net after 14 minutes before Hermoso added a stunning second goal in the 57th, although Feyenoord pulled one back with 13 minutes left as Mats Wieffer headed home from a corner.

However, a second own goal four minutes later, this time from Santiago Gimenez, wrapped up the points for Atletico who moved top in Group E and claimed a knockout-stage berth.

They have 11 points, one more than Lazio, who also reached the last 16 on Tuesday by beating Celtic 2-0 in Rome, with their spot guaranteed by Feyenoord's defeat.

Atletico had started two points clear of Feyenoord, making it a crucial encounter for both clubs, and defeat for the Dutch left them on six points, assured of third place in the group and a place in the knockout stages of the Europa League.

Feyenoord, backed by a crowd who produced ear-popping noise at times, were always up against it after conceding early.

The ball went in off defender Geertruida after a moment of indecision as Marcos Llorente floated a speculative cross into the box and no one made an effort to attack it. The ball landed on the leg of the Feyenoord captain and into his own net.

While there an element of the bizarre about the opener, Atleti’s second was pure quality as 20-year-old substitute Pablo Barrios, who had been on for a minute, found Hermoso who hooked the ball into the opposite corner of the goal on the volley.

It will have reminded Dutch fans of the goal Marco van Basten scored from a near impossible angle against the Soviet Union in the 1988 European Championship final.

"I was looking for it," said Hermoso. "I didn’t really know where I was, but I more or less knew where the goal was and the ball went there."

The strike came after Feyenoord had squandered an excellent chance to equalise when Quilindschy Hartman dispossessed Axel Witsel and squared for Mexican striker Santiago Gimenez, who was tackled right in front of goal by fullback Jose Maria Gimenez.

But the Dutch were suddenly back in the contest when Wieffer rose unchallenged to head home from a corner, setting up the prospect of an exciting final quarter hour.

Home hopes were short lived, however, as Nahuel Molina’s free kick was whipped in with pace and came off the top of the head of Santiago Gimenez into the net.

"Both own goals were unnecessary. We'll have to learn from this," added Wieffer.

Atletico can now make sure of top spot with a home draw in their last group game against second-placed Lazio on Dec. 13.

Immobile double earns Lazio 2-0 win over Celtic

Lazio's Ciro Immobile scores their second goal against Celtic in their Group E match at  Stadio Olimpico, Rome, Italy

IMAGE: Lazio's Ciro Immobile scores their second goal against Celtic in their Group E match at Stadio Olimpico, Rome, Italy. Photograph: Alberto Lingria/Reuters

Two late goals by captain Ciro Immobile earned Lazio a 2-0 home win over bottom side Celtic in Champions League Group E on Tuesday, putting the Italians in a strong position to reach the last 16 and ending the visitors' qualification hopes.

Second-half substitute Immobile opened the scoring for the hosts in the 82nd minute with a shot into the roof of the net from close range before doubling the advantage three minutes later with a low strike after cutting inside on to his left foot.

Lazio provisionally moved top of the group with 10 points from five games and will seal their last-16 spot if third-placed Feyenoord lose at home to Atletico Madrid, in second, later on Tuesday.

Celtic, who were awarded a penalty in stoppage time before the referee reversed his decision following a VAR review, have one point and are unable to finish in the top two.

Lazio created more chances in the first half and could have taken an early lead through Felipe Anderson, who had their best opportunity in the opening 45 minutes, but the Brazilian sent his close-range header over the crossbar.

Celtic, thrashed 6-0 in their previous outing in Madrid and needing a win to stay in the hunt for a top-two finish, ramped up their efforts in the second half but were unable to find a way past Lazio keeper Ivan Provedel.

Lazio coach Maurizio Sarri turned to Immobile and Pedro for the second half, introducing the strikers after the hour mark.

The captain, who became the first player to score 100 away Serie A goals on Saturday against Salernitana, showed his quality with two excellent finishes to help the Italians to get a third win out of their five group fixtures.

"If you can dream it, you can do it," Immobile told Sky Sport. "I didn't think much about the exclusion (from the starting line-up) because we are going through a difficult team moment and putting personal things in front doesn't do any good.

"I think the only explanation is that the enthusiasm of playing this competition puts us in a position to give our best."

Lazio's winless Serie A run stretched to three games on Saturday when they were stunned 2-1 by bottom side Salernitana in their sixth league defeat this season.

Celtic's miserable night was completed in stoppage time when the referee initially awarded them a penalty for a push on Oh Hyeon-gyu, but he changed his mind after being asked by the VAR to review his decision on the pitchside monitor.

Shakhtar beat Antwerp 1-0 to keep Champions League hopes alive

Shakhtar Donetsk defender Mykola Matviyenko's glancing header secured a 1-0 win over Royal Antwerp on Tuesday to keep alive their hopes of a last-16 Champions League spot.

The Ukrainians, who play in Hamburg, dominated the first half in the Group H clash, scoring in the 12th minute after Oleksandr Zubkov's cross headed was headed in by Matviyenko.

The Belgians had chances but Shakhtar goalkeeper Dmytro Riznyk made brilliant saves to deny Antwerp from picking up their first point in their Champions League debut season.

Shakhtar are third but level on nine points with leaders Barcelona and second-placed Porto, who meet later on Tuesday in Spain, with the Catalans needing a win to secure top spot after losing 1-0 to the Ukrainians earlier this month.

Antwerp host Barca on Dec. 13 in the final round of group fixtures, while Shakhtar visit Porto.

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