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PIX: Ronaldo saves United; Bayern, Chelsea cruise

October 21, 2021 09:55 IST
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Images from the UEFA Champions League matches played on Wednesday.

Relentless Bayern crush Benfica

IMAGE: Leroy Sane, left, celebrates with team-mates after scoring Bayern Munich's fourth goal against Benfica at Estadio da Luz in Benfica, on Wednesday. Photograph: Pedro Nunes/Reuters

Bayern Munich struck four times in a frantic 15-minute spell late in the second half to cruise past Benfica Lisbon 4-0 on Wednesday and make it three wins out of three Champions League Group E matches.

Leroy Sane whipped in a fierce free kick in the 70th minute and drilled in his second in the 85th after Benfica substitute Everton headed in an own goal in the 80th and Robert Lewandowski bagged their third goal two minutes later.

The Bavarians, with coach Julian Nagelsmann missing with a flu and being replaced by his assistants, had earlier hit the woodwork and also had two efforts disallowed.

But Benfica had their share of golden opportunities in an entertaining game before eventually running out of gas after the 70th minute.

Bayern, who have now scored 12 goals in their three games and have conceded none, are top of Group E on nine points, with Benfica in second place on four.

They are also unbeaten in a record-extending 20 consecutive Champions League away games.

"We played a very good game, even in the first half but we could have been a bit better in our finish," double scorer Sane said.

"We knew Befica would be aggressive and go to one-on-ones so we just had to be patient and play our game. I have been training these free kicks quite a bit and am happy this one went in.

"We are always hungry and that is our strength."

IMAGE: Bayern Munich's Leroy Sane scores their first goal from a free kick in the 70th minute. Photograph: Pedro Nunes/Reuters

Some 14 months after winning the Champions League title there, Bayern, with assistant Dino Topmoeller in charge, returned to Lisbon's Da Luz stadium and went in search of an early goal with chances missed by Sane and Lewandowski.

Benfica gradually balanced things out and forced Bayern keeper Manuel Neuer, making his 100th appearance in the competition, to a fine save before Lewandowski put the ball in the net just before the break only to have his effort cancelled for hand ball.

Benfica keeper Odysseas Vlachodimos then denied them two minutes after the restart, deflecting Benjamin Pavard's powerful shot onto the post.

Minutes later Bayern thought they had finally scored when Thomas Mueller tapped in on the rebound after a solo effort down the wing from man-of-the-match Kingsley Coman. But a VAR review ruled out the strike as Coman was deemed to be offside.

It was by no means one-way traffic with Neuer again making a superb stop in the 55th, palming a curled Diogo Goncalves shot wide with his left glove. Roman Yaremchuk also came agonisingly close, with his shot a little later sailing just wide of the far post.

But it was Sane who broke the deadlock, whipping his 70th minute free kick in before they scored three more times in a rampant finale to remain on course of a spot in the knockout stages.

Ronaldo header seals United comeback win over Atalanta

IMAGE: Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates scoring Manchester United's third goal against Atalanta at Old Trafford in Manchester. Photograph: Phil Noble/Reuters

Cristiano Ronaldo headed in an 81st-minute winner as Manchester United came from two goals down to beat Atalanta 3-2 in a pulsating Champions League Group F match at Old Trafford on Wednesday.

After a poor first-half display, with Atalanta taking a 2-0 lead in at the break, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's team turned the game -- and possibly their season -- around with a thunderous performance.

The pressure was on Solskjaer after Saturday's 4-2 Premier League defeat at Leicester City and he opted to drop Paul Pogba to the bench but there was little sign of improvement from that switch.

United were disjointed and dispirited in the opening 45 minutes but raised their tempo and the volume from the Stretford End with a relentless push to victory that culminated in the Champions League's record scorer demonstrating his brilliance in front of goal yet again.

Mario Pasalic put Atalanta ahead in the 15th minute, turning in Davide Zappacosta's low ball from close range and United, with just one win in their last five games in all competitions, looked drained of belief.

It was no great surprise when the Italian side doubled their lead in the 29th minute with Merih Demiral rising at the near post to glance in an angled header from a Teun Koopmeiners corner.

Fred and Marcus Rashford missed good chances for United before the break but the home side got themselves back into the game in the 53rd minute.

A clever ball from Bruno Fernandes allowed Rashford to cut in from the left and he picked his spot with a shot into the far corner.

IMAGE: Mario Pasalic, right, celebrates with teammate Davide Zappacosta after scoring Atalanta's first goal against Manchester United. Photograph: Naomi Baker/Getty Images

Scott McTominay struck the post after connecting with Ronaldo's cross but although United were pushing for a leveller, the Italians were still a threat and the hosts were thankful to keeper David De Gea for a superb double save to keep out a drive from Duvan Zapata and follow-up from Ruslan Malinovskyi.

The pressure paid off for United, though, when they drew level with Harry Maguire drilling the ball home at the back post after the static Atalanta defence failed to intercept a Fernandes ball across the box.

Then came the winner as Luke Shaw whipped in a superb cross from the left and Ronaldo rose superbly, timing his jump and his header perfectly to power the ball past Musso.

"I was right behind him. His leap, his timing, it was perfect right in the corner," Maguire said.

"We see it day in, day out in training and in the goals he has scored throughout his career. He has come up with a massive goal for us again in the Champions League," he added.

"We got the goals we needed and deserved and I think we deserved the win in the end. Yes, we made it difficult but it is a tremendous victory in the end."

United top the group after three games on six points with Atalanta and Villarreal two points behind.

Chelsea hammer Malmo 4-0 but lose strikers to injury

IMAGE: Jorginho scores Chelsea's fourth goal from the penalty spot during the UEFA Champions League Group H match against Malmo FF at Stamford Bridge in London. Photograph: Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

Chelsea cruised to a 4-0 win over Sweden's Malmo in Group H of the Champions League on Wednesday in a one-sided contest settled by goals from Andreas Christensen and Kai Havertz and two penalties converted by Jorginho.

But the win came at a price for the European champions - who were seeking to bounce back from a 1-0 defeat by Juventus in their previous group game - as strikers Romelu Lukaku and Timo Werner both hobbled off in the first half.

Christensen, playing his 137th game for Chelsea, scored his first goal for the club in the ninth minute when he volleyed home a cross from Thiago Silva.

Nine minutes later, Lukaku was felled in the box by Malmo's Lasse Nielsen - a challenge which led to the Belgian's substitution - and Jorginho made no mistake from the spot.

Werner limped off shortly before halftime but there was no respite for the visitors as the second half got under way under pouring rain.

IMAGE: Chelsea striker Romelu Lukaku was felled in the box by Malmo's Lasse Nielsen - a challenge which led to the Belgian's substitution. Photograph: Clive Rose/Getty Images

Callum Hudson-Odoi raced half the length of the pitch to set up fellow substitute Havertz to score with an angled shot that went in off the far post in the 48th minute.

Eight minutes later, Chelsea won another penalty when Eric Larsson barged into Antonio Rudiger as he was about to shoot and Jorginho scored again from 12 yards.

Chelsea coach Thomas Tuchel took no chances with his selection, fielding a full-strength side with Antonio Rudiger and Thiago Silva back in defence, Jorginho restored to midfield and Mason Mount starting for the first time in over a month.

The win left Chelsea on six points, three points behind Group H leaders Juventus who scored late to win 1-0 away at Zenit St Petersburg.

Malmo, who failed to register a shot on target against the Londoners, have yet to earn a point and have conceded 11 goals in three games so far, scoring none.

Pique strike secures crucial win for Barcelona



Gerard Pique scored the vital goal to earn Barcelona a nervy 1-0 win over Dynamo Kyiv in Champions League Group E on Wednesday and keep alive the Spanish side's hopes of reaching the knockout rounds.

Pique volleyed home Jordi Alba's cross in the 36th minute to register Barca's first goal of this season's competition and secure their first victory after 3-0 defeats by Bayern Munich and Benfica.

Ronald Koeman's team moved to third in the standings with three points, one behind Benfica and three adrift of the Germans ahead of their clash later on Wednesday.

Barcelona received another boost when striker Sergio Aguero came on as a substitute late in the second half and looked to have recovered from the calf injury he suffered in pre-season after signing from Manchester City.

The Argentina international should be in contention to play in Sunday's Clasico against Real Madrid.

It was not a convincing win for Barcelona against a Dynamo Kyiv team who offered little attacking threat and did not muster a single shot on goal.

Barca coach Ronald Koeman left Ansu Fati, Philippe Coutinho and Aguero on the bench ahead of the Clasico and Sergino Dest, who usually plays left back, was moved up to play alongside Luuk de Jong and Memphis Depay in attack.

After a couple of missed chances by Dest and De Jong, the crowd started booing the home team and Koeman showed his frustration on the sidelines by asking Fati and Coutinho to warm up after only 31 minutes.

Just before the Dutch coach was about to make the substitutions, however, defender Pique eased the tension with a cool close-range finish from Alba's cross.

Fati and Coutinho came on after halftime and Barca improved with 18-year-old Fati showing his quality and almost scoring a brilliant goal with a backheel.

Barcelona were unable to turn their possession into goals but they hung on to seal a vital victory.

Kulusevski strikes late to earn Juventus win over Zenit

IMAGE: Dejan Kulusevski scores the first goal for Juventus against Zenit St Petersburg. Photograph: Anton Vaganov/Reuters

Dejan Kulusevski scored a late goal to earn Juventus a hardfought 1-0 victory away to Zenit St Petersburg on Wednesday and maintain their perfect record in Champions League Group H.

The Swede was left unmarked in the box to guide a header in off the post on the 86th minute and decide a game of few opportunities at the Gazprom Arena.

Juve midfielder Weston McKennie’s shot was well saved and Claudinho curled an effort narrowly wide for the hosts early in the second half, but the goalkeepers were largely untroubled as the two teams mustered a combined three shots on target before Kulusevski struck.

"The result is excellent especially considering that we are at full points and are yet to concede after three games in this group," said Juve coach Massimiliano Allegri.

"To be honest, the performance was not great, Zenit were closing down spaces and we did not move the ball quickly enough."

The result stretched Juve's unbeaten run to eight matches in all competitions, including six consecutive wins, and it was the resilient Italians' fourth 1-0 victory in a row.

Massimiliano Allegri’s side top the group with nine points, six clear of Zenit in third and three ahead of second-placed Chelsea, who beat pointless Malmo 4-0 in London.

"Certainly we still have to improve. We have to play better in the final third, between the lines and make better decisions," Allegri added.

"We missed (injured) Paulo Dybala, who is certainly a player who can help us with his creativity, but all players must improve in this sense."

Juve travelled to Russia full of confidence following back-to-back wins over Malmo and European champions Chelsea, but they struggled to find a way through a resolute home defence.

Claudinho’s powerful shot from range forced Wojciech Szczesny into a save and Federico Chiesa flashed a shot wide of the far post during a dull first half.

There was a flurry of activity after the break when McKennie latched on to a clever Alvaro Morata through ball and had a shot blocked by Stanislav Kritsyuk, before Claudinho fired wide.

Allegri switched things up just before the hour mark with a triple change, introducing Kulusevski, Arthur and Juan Cuadrado.

He was almost immediately rewarded when the Brazilian midfielder’s clever pass behind the defence to Cuadrado was squared towards Morata at the back post, but the striker was denied a tap-in by a Dmitrii Chistiakov intervention.

Zenit were dealt a warning of what was to come on the 74th minute when Mattia De Sciglio’s cross from the left wing found McKennie, who glanced a header wide of the far post.

With four minutes remaining, De Sciglio again found space to cross and his delivery was headed in by substitute Kulusevski.

Lille continue winless Champions League run with Sevilla draw

IMAGE: Lille's Renato Sanches, left, battles for possession with Marcos Acuna of Sevilla. Photograph: Julian Finney/Getty Images

Lille were held to a 0-0 home draw by Sevilla on Wednesday to continue their miserable winless Champions League run.

The French champions have not tasted victory in Europe's elite club competition since 2012 and have won only six of 41 Champions League games. They sit in third place in Group G with two points from three games this season.

Sevilla are second on three points after three consecutive stalemates but the Spanish side have not lost away from home in the Champions League in their last nine matches.

RB Salzburg top the table on seven points after beating Wolfsburg 3-1 earlier on Wednesday.

At the Pierre Mauroy stadium, Sevilla dominated in the first half but lacked sharpness in the box before the tide seemed to turn.

The hosts had a couple of chances in the second half but failed to make their dominance count as they were held to a goalless draw for the second time in two home games in the competition.

Birthday boy Pino helps Villarreal thump Young Boys

IMAGE: Villarreal's players celebrate after Alberto Moreno scored the third goal during the UEFA Champions League Group F match against BSC Young Boys at Stadion Wankdorf on October 20, 2021 in Bern. Photograph: Christian Kaspar-Bartke/Getty Images

Yeremi Pino and Gerard Moreno scored early goals for Villarreal as they claimed a first Champions League group stage win in 13 years with a 4-1 triumph over Young Boys in a thrilling game at the Wankdorf Stadium on Wednesday.

The Group F victory moved the Spanish side into third in the standings on four points from three games, behind leaders Manchester United (six ) and Atalanta (four). Bottom side Young Boys (three) remain in contention at the halfway stage.

Pino received a gift on his 19th birthday when he was left completely unmarked at the back post from Alfonso Pedraza's cross to head into the net for his first Champions League goal as Villarreal opened the scoring after six minutes.

They doubled that advantage 10 minutes later after more static defending allowed Morena to head in the second as he found acres of space between two defenders from Dani Parejo's free kick.

Both teams wasted numerous chances to score in the second period of a hugely entertaining game that will be repeated in Spain when the teams meet again on Nov. 2, but Meschack Elia finally got reward for the home side with 13 minutes to go.

That set up an grandstand finish, but as Young Boys pushed forward in search of an equaliser, they were always going to be vulnerable at the back, and Alberto Moreno and Samuel Chukwueze made the points safe for the visitors with two late strikes.

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