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PIX: Messi stars for Barca; Oxlade-Chamberlain double

Last updated on: October 24, 2019 06:58 IST

A round of Wednesday night's Champions League group stage matches.

Lionel Messi celebrates scoring Barcelona's opening goal in the Champions League Group F match against Slavia Prague

IMAGE: Lionel Messi celebrates scoring Barcelona's opening goal in the Champions League Group F match against Slavia Prague, at Eden Arena, Prague, on Wednesday. Photograph: David W Cerny/Reuters

A quick-fire strike from Lionel Messi and a second half own goal gave Barcelona a 2-1 win over Slavia Prague in a thrilling Champions League Group F encounter on Wednesday where both sides spurned multiple chances.

 

Barcelona swarmed forward from the kick off, keeping Slavia bottled up in their own end and denying them possession.

They took the lead in the third minute when Messi forced a turnover before feeding the ball to Arthur who returned it for the Argentine to slip past the goalkeeper.

The goal made Messi the first player in Champions League history to score at least once in 15 consecutive seasons in the competition.

Slavia regrouped quickly and began pressing forward in numbers during a lively first half in which they out-shot Barcelona.

The hosts had three gilt-edge chances but were denied by Barcelona goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen whose saves included a sprawling effort where he dove one way but used his foot to clear a Jaroslav Zeleny shot to safety.

"Ter Stegen has been our key player across all three Champions League matches so far," Barca manager Ernesto Valverde said.

The home side, pushed on by a roaring crowd, kept their foot on the pedal after the break and deservedly levelled in the 50th minute when Lukas Masopust held off a defender before threading a pass to Jan Boril who made no mistake in front of goal.

Barcelona, harried all night by a hard-running Slavia side, reclaimed their advantage in the 57th minute when a Luis Suarez shot from a tight angle bounced off Peter Olayinka and into the net.

Slavia continued to push forward but despite a number of efforts inside the box could not breach a stubborn Barcelona backline that defended in numbers and blocked several last-gasp shots.

The win puts Barcelona top of Group F with seven points from three games while Slavia are bottom with one point. Elsewhere, Inter Milan beat Borussia Dortmund 2-0 and both teams are on four points in the group.

Martinez scores, misses penalty as Inter scrape win

Borussia Dortmund's Roman Burki saves a penalty from Inter Milan's Lautaro Martinez

IMAGE: Borussia Dortmund's Roman Burki saves a penalty from Inter Milan's Lautaro Martinez in the Group F match, at San Siro, Milan. Photograph: Alessandro Garofalo/Reuters

Forward Lautaro Martinez scored one goal and missed a second-half penalty as a lacklustre Inter Milan scraped their first win in their Champions League group by beating Borussia Dortmund 2-0.

The Argentine broke the deadlock in the 22nd minute and missed a chance to score a second when his penalty was saved by Roman Buerki with eight minutes left. Antonio Candreva ended up making it 2-0 for Inter in the 89th minute.

Those efforts represented three of only four Inter shots on target, although that was twice as many their equally uninspiring Bundlesliga opponents could muster.

The result left the two teams level on four points from three games in Group F, three behind leaders Barcelona, but neither looked much of a threat to the competition's top sides on this showing.

The only person who seemed genuinely excited by the game was Inter coach Antonio Conte who spent the match pacing around the technical area and ranting at his players in his usual style.

Conte was more than happy with the result, saying that his opposite number Lucien Favre had unexpectedly chosen to defend.

The game's first shot on target produced a goal in the 22nd minute as Stefan de Vrij played a long ball over the top of the Borussia defence which Martinez controlled on his chest before placing a low shot beyond the advancing Buerki.

Inter goalkeeper Samir Handanovic was called into action for the first time just before halftime as his fingertip save denied Jadon Sancho.

Handanovic also made a difficult stop from Julian Brandt's awkward shot in the 64th minute and Inter also had to scramble the ball clear from another Sancho effort shortly afterwards.

One of the few bright spots for Inter was the performance of 17-year-old Sebastiano Esposito who livened up the midfield after coming on in the 62nd minute and won a penalty when he was tripped by Mats Hummels.

Unfortunately, the spot kick was wasted by Martinez whose shot was too close to Buerki and allowed the Swiss to save.

In the end, it did not matter as Borussia were caught on the break and Marcelo Brozovic slipped the ball to Candreva who ran on and finished confidently, slotting the ball past Buerki.

Oxlade-Chamberlain double as Liverpool trounce Genk

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain scores Liverpool's first goal in the Group E match against Genk

IMAGE: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain scores Liverpool's first goal in the Group E match against Genk, at Luminus Arena, Genk, Belgium. Photograph: Paul Childs/Reuters

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain marked his return to the Champions League stage with two superb goals as Liverpool claimed their first group stage win on the road for two years with a 4-1 triumph at Belgian club Racing Genk.

It was not as comfortable as the scoreline suggests but two sublime finishes by Oxlade-Chamberlain, playing his first game in the competition since suffering a serious knee injury in the semi-final against Roma 18 months ago, and one each from Sadio Mane and Mo Salah sealed the points.

Genk got a late consolation through Stephen Odey.

Victory lifted Liverpool to six points, one behind Group E leaders Napoli, although the evening began on a sour note when a banner depicting striker Divock Origi was removed from the away end with Liverpool condemning it as racist.

Oxlade-Chamberlain's fizzing low shot gave Liverpool the lead after two minutes but Genk were not about to roll over.

They had several golden opportunities to equalise and thought they had done so with Mbwana Samatta's bullet header after 26 minutes but his effort was ruled marginally offside.

Genk were still in the hunt but Oxlade-Chamberlain gave Liverpool breathing space in the 57th minute with a sensational improvised finish from outside the area.

Mane gave the scoreline a rather flattering look when he finished off a superb move after 77 minutes and Salah rubbed salt into the hosts' wounds with a classy fourth as Genk finally began to run out of steam.

Insigne wins it for Napoli in five-goal thriller

Napoli's Lorenzo Insigne celebrates after the Group E match against FC Salzburg

IMAGE: Napoli's Lorenzo Insigne celebrates after the Group E match against FC Salzburg at Red Bull Arena, in Salzburg, Austria. Photograph: Leonhard Foeger/Reuters

Lorenzo Insigne gave Napoli a thrilling 3-2 win away to Salzburg in the Champions League after Dries Mertens twice gave the Serie A side the lead only for Norwegian teenager Erling Haaland to equalise for the Austrian champions each time.

Mertens's brace took his tally for Napoli to 116 goals and he overtook Diego Maradona as the club's second highest scorer behind Marek Hamsik.

Napoli lead Group E with seven points from three games, one ahead of Liverpool, while Salzburg are third with three despite having scored 11 goals -- six of them from 19-year-old Haaland who once again showed his enormous potential.

Haaland had the ball in the net for Salzburg after nine minutes but it was ruled offside following a VAR consultation.

Napoli took full advantage of the let-off with a brilliant goal by Mertens in the 17th minute as he fired into the roof of the net from a narrow angle with stunning power.

But the Serie A side were then subjected to a period of sustained Salzburg pressure as goalkeeper Alex Meret pulled off three outstanding saves in quick succession.

At the other end, Meret's opposite number Cican Stankovic suffered a bizarre injury as he appeared to pull a hamstring when chasing back to cover a Mertens lob and he was substituted by Carlos Miguel Coronel.

Salzburg finally got their equaliser five minutes before halftime when Haaland converted a penalty after Hee-Chan Hwang was tripped by Kevin Malcuit.

Mertens put Napoli back in front after 64 minutes, scoring at the far post from Malcuit's low cross but, once again, Haaland replied, the Norwegian heading the equaliser eight minutes later.

But, just as it was against Liverpool when they hit back from three goals behind to equalise only to lose 4-3, Salzburg's fight back was in vain.

Almost straight from the kick-off, Napoli went straight down the other end of the pitch and Mertens found Insigne whose deflected shot looped over the stranded Coronel.

Batshuayi spurs Chelsea to victory in Amsterdam

Michy Batshuayi scores Chelsea's only goal in the Group H match against Ajax Amsterdam

IMAGE: Michy Batshuayi scores Chelsea's only goal in the Group H match against Ajax Amsterdam, at Johan Cruijff Arena, in Amsterdam. Photograph: Lee Smith/Reuters

A late goal by substitute Michy Batshuayi propelled Chelsea to a 1-0 win at Ajax Amsterdam for a second Champions League victory in Group H after a fast and furious tussle at the Johan Cruijff Arena.

Manager Frank Lampard's late replacements paid dividends as Batshuayi was set up by fellow substitute Christian Pulisic for the 86th minute winner as Chelsea finished strongly.

Chelsea and Ajax now both have six points at the halfway point of the six-game group campaign.

The two youthful line-ups produced a high tempo encounter but there were few clear cut chances in a match where the defenders generally got the better of the strikers.

Lyon keeper's blunder hands Benfica victory

Olympique Lyonnais goalkeeper Anthony Lopes is consoled by teammate Thiago Mendes after the Group G match against Benfica

IMAGE: Olympique Lyonnais goalkeeper Anthony Lopes is consoled by teammate Thiago Mendes after the Group G match against Benfica at Estadio da Luz, Lisbon. Photograph: Rafael Marchante/Reuters

An 86th minute blunder by Olympique Lyon keeper Anthony Lopes handed Benfica Lisbon a late goal for a 2-1 victory on Wednesday that threw the Champions League Group G wide open.

Pizzi scored the winner after Lopes inexplicably threw the ball straight into the player’s path who had no problem firing in from 25 metres for their first win in this season’s competition.

Rafa Silva had grabbed a fourth minute lead for the hosts but his injury a little later deprived Benfica of their main attacking threat.

There was little in terms of attacks from the visitors, under new coach Rudi Garcia, until Memphis Depay volleyed in the equaliser at the far post in the 70th. Benfica hit the post in the 85th but were gifted the winner by Lopes a little later.

Benfica climb to three points, one behind Lyon and Zenit St Petersburg. RB Leipzig, who beat Zenit 2-1 earlier on Wednesday, are top on six points.

Ikone's late goal helps Lille hold Valencia

Denis Cheryshev celebrates scoring for Valencia in the Group H match against Lille

IMAGE: Denis Cheryshev celebrates scoring for Valencia in the Group H match against Lille, at Stade Pierre-Mauroy, Lille, France. Photograph: Pascal Rossignol/Reuters

Substitute Jonathan Ikone blasted home an equaliser deep into stoppage time to give Lille a 1-1 draw against 10-man Valencia to secure the French side’s first point in their Champions League Group H campaign.

The home side dominated throughout and created more than enough opportunities to win the game, but their defence was superbly sliced open midway through the second half as Denis Cheryshev put the visitors ahead.

Valencia had Mouctar Diakhaby sent off five minutes from time after being shown two yellow cards in quick succession, and Lille made the most of that advantage when Ikone struck in the fifth minute of stoppage time to snatch a point.

Ajax Amsterdam top the group with six points, ahead of second-placed Chelsea on goal difference despite losing to the Londoners at home earlier on Wednesday.

Valencia are third on four points and Lille bottom on one point.

Leipzig stage second half comeback to beat Zenit

Marcel Sabitzer, centre, celebrates scoring Leipzig's second goal

IMAGE: Marcel Sabitzer, centre, celebrates scoring Leipzig's second goal with teammates in the Group G match against Zenit Saint Petersburg, at Red Bull Arena, Leipzig, Germany. Photograph: Annegret Hilse/Reuters

RB Leipzig came from a goal down to beat visitors Zenit St Petersburg 2-1 and take back control of Champions League Group G.

The hosts, who had lost to Olympique Lyonnais in the previous match day, almost scored after one minute when Konrad Laimer’s shot was tipped on to the crossbar by the Zenit keeper.

But it was the visitors who struck first and against the run of play when Yaroslav Rakitskyy chested down a lose ball and released from 25 metres to beat Leipzig’s goalkeeper Peter Gulacsi in the 25th minute.

The hosts, who came from a four-game winless run in all competitions, shot out of the blocks after the break and within 15 minutes had turned the match around.

Laimer made amends for his earlier miss scoring from a Marcel Sabitzer assist in the 49th. Sabitzer then turned scorer, rifling in an unstoppable shot into the top corner for what could well be the goal of the matchday in the 59th minute.

The Russians came close to an equaliser but substitute Yordan Osorio sent his shot over the bar from ten metres out.

Matheus Cunha was even more wasteful for Leipzig when he twice had only keeper Mikhail Kerzhakov to beat and both times missed the target.

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