By Lori Ewing and Fernando Kallas
Erling Haaland ended his goal drought with a brace while Manuel Akanji scored on his return to his homeland as reigning champions Manchester City all but secured their spot in the knockout stage of the Champions League with a 3-1 win over Swiss side Young Boys on Wednesday (Thursday AEDT).
Pep Guardiola’s side maintained their perfect record in Group G with three victories, despite their pre-game concerns about playing on the slick artificial turf at Wankdorf Stadium in Bern.
Haaland scored for the first time in six Champions League games with a penalty in the 67th minute after Mohamed Camara’s tackle on Rodri in the box. City’s goal-scoring machine added a fabulous second goal when he moved the ball from his left foot to his right before firing it into the top corner in the 86th.
City had a string of first-half near misses before Akanji finally broke the deadlock three minutes after the break when Ruben Dias’s header was pushed off the crossbar by keeper Anthony Racioppi and the Swiss defender lunged to poke it in.
But Young Boys caught City keeper Ederson in no man’s land to level four minutes later, sending in Meschack Elia with a superb pass which he scooped high over Ederson into the net.
Young Boys are third on one point after three matches.
Meanwhile, another Kylian Mbappe moment of magic and a Randal Kolo Muani goal helped Paris-Saint Germain beat a toothless AC Milan 3-0 at the Parc des Princes to go top of Group F.
France forward Mbappe broke the deadlock with a clever low shot before the break, before Kolo Muani doubled the advantage in the second half after some fine play by their national team partner Ousmane Dembele.
Lee Kang-in added a third in the last minute for good measure.
While it was not an easy affair in the first half, Luis Enrique’s side prevailed to be on six points from three games, two ahead of Borussia Dortmund who claimed a 1-0 win at Newcastle United.
Champions League matchday 3 results
- Galatasaray 1 Bayern Munich 3
- Inter Milan 2 RB Salzburg 1
- Union Berlin 0 Napoli 1
- Sevilla 1 Arsenal 2
- Braga 1 Real Madrid 2
- Lens 1 PSV Eindhoven 1
- Benfica 0 Real Sociedad 1
- Manchester United 1 Copenhagen 0
- Barcelona 2 Shakhtar Donetsk 1
- Feyenoord 3 Lazio 1
- Newcastle 0 Borussia Dortmund 1
- RB Leipzig 3 Red Star Belgrade 1
- Young Boys 1 Manchester City 3
- PSG 3 AC Milan 0
- Celtic 2 Atletico Madrid 2
- Antwerp 1 Porto 4
AC Milan, who have now failed to score in five consecutive Champions League games and netted only once in their last four competitive matches, are bottom of the group on two points.
Earlier on Wednesday, first-half goals from Ferran Torres and Fermin Lopez helped Barcelona secure a 2-1 home win against Shakhtar Donetsk in their Group H tie.
The locals dominated from the start despite missing several key players due to injury and suspensions, and they opened the scoring in the 28th minute with a Torres volley from a rebound after 20-year-old Lopez’s strike from close range smashed into the right post.
The goal was initially ruled out for a hint of an offside in the build-up, but a VAR check confirmed that Lopez was onside when he struck from inside the box.
Without the injured Robert Lewandowski, Raphinha, Sergi Roberto, Frenkie De Jong, Jules Kounde and Pedri, and with midfielder Gavi suspended for a red card in their win over FC Porto, Barca manager Xavi Hernandez called up eight academy players including Lopez who is becoming a regular in the first team.
He caused all kinds of trouble for Shakhtar and extended Barca’s lead in the 36th, unleashing a thunderous shot that ricocheted off the left post on its way in.
Barca then missed several chances to stretch out their lead, with Lopez hitting the post twice more and having two goals ruled out by VAR for tight offsides.
Shakhtar midfielder Georgiy Sudakov stroked in a tidy finish from a counterattack in the 62nd minute to narrow the deficit, but Barcelona held on despite late pressure to secure their third win in three games.
“It was a hard-fought victory in a difficult match. It was hard for us. I’m happy for the win and for helping out with a goal,” man of the match Lopez told Movistar Plus.
“Xavi told us that winning today would be key to get closer to securing a place in the knockouts. We suffered a bit but we got the three points”.
In Wednesday’s other early kick-off, Feyenoord beat visitors Lazio 3-1 thanks to a double from Mexico’s Santiago Gimenez and a strike from Ramiz Zerrouki to move top of Group E.
The Dutch champions could have taken the lead in the 25th minute when Gimenez’s effort was disallowed after a VAR review, but he had another shot five minutes later from Mats Wieffer’s pass which flew into the top corner of Ivan Provedel’s net.
Gimenez scored on his debut in Europe’s top club competition to become the second Mexican player to do so after Edson Alvarez for Ajax against Lille in 2019.
Feyenoord, European champions in 1970, doubled their lead before half-time when midfielder Calvin Stengs cut inside and set up Algeria international Zerrouki to shoot home.
Gimenez grabbed his second from a rebound from Quinten Timber’s shot in the 74th minute but Lazio claimed a consolation when Marcos Lopez fouled Valentin Castellanos and Pedro Rodriguez converted the penalty seven minutes from time.
United pay tribute to Charlton; victories for Bayern, Arsenal
Manchester: Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag laid a wreath in the centre of the storied Old Trafford pitch on Tuesday (Wednesday AEDT) in a stirring tribute to club great Bobby Charlton before their Champions League 1-0 group-stage win over FC Copenhagen.
Ten Hag, who has called Charlton a “leader” and a “giant,” Charlton’s former teammate Alex Stepney, and under-19s team captain Dan Gore followed a lone piper playing The Red Flag on to the pitch.
Charlton, an England World Cup winner and one of Manchester United’s greatest players, died on Saturday at the age of 86.
“We love you Sir Bobby ... a hero to millions, the finest English footballer the world has ever seen. You will live on in our hearts forever,” the public address announcer said, before asking for a minute’s silence.
Supporters then broke into “There’s only one Bobby Charlton!”
The good vibes didn’t last long, however, with fans booing United off the pitch at half-time following a tight opening term, their players unable to use emotions stirred by the memory of the club great to make any headway against the group outsiders from Denmark.
The jeers turned to cheers for Harry Maguire when the oft-maligned centre-back headed home a cross from substitute Christian Eriksen.
Goalkeeper Andre Onana, another player under pressure in the early stage of this season, preserved the win by clawing away Jordan Larsson’s penalty in the seventh minute of stoppage time in a dramatic finish to an emotional evening.
United still have to work to do in the group, however, their three-point haul still one adrift of Galatasaray after three matches. The Turkish side lost 3-1 to Bayern Munich, who top the group with a perfect return of nine points.
The Bavarians unusually found themselves on the back foot with Galatasaray carving out 20 attacks to their six with the two sides locked at 1-1 after goals in the opening half-hour.
However, Bayern striker Harry Kane scored in the 73rd minute and Jamal Musiala added another six minutes later to snap their opponents’ 23-match unbeaten run across all competitions.
Gabriel Martinelli and Gabriel Jesus, meanwhile, scored goals either side of half-time as Arsenal completed a 2-1 victory at Sevilla, a hard-fought win that took them to the top of Group B at the midway point of the pool stage with six points
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