Barcelona avoids shock in Prague, Chelsea edges over Ajax

Batshuayi goal against Ajax gave Chelsea their 6th straight win Credits: Getty Images
Batshuayi goal against Ajax gave Chelsea their 6th straight win Credits: Getty Images

Tuesday we saw a goal-fest, but Wednesday evening of Champions League did not disappoint either. There were 24 goals scored between groups E, F, G, and H, making this matchday a total of 54 goals (3.3 average per match).

There were no major surprises this Wednesday, but there were some interesting results, massive bangers and a young Norwegian who keeps scoring for fun.

Group E

Genk 1 x 4 Liverpool

The Champions League holders kept their status and reputation clean as they thumped Genk in Belgium, with a brilliant exhibition. The man of the match was Oxlade-Chamberlain, as the Englishman got an opportunity as a starter in the Reds midfield and he did not disappoint.

It was just the 2nd minute in the game and Chamberlain was already opening the score. Ox pace running through the midfield surprised Genk, who were probably more focused on stopping the usual attacking trio.

In the second half, Chamberlain netted a second one and what a goal it was. One of the best you will see, as the Ox received a pass from Firmino on the edge of the area. With a single touch with the outside part of the foot, he sent the ball magically into the goal. Genk’s keeper Coucke stood still, like a spectator.

Before the end of the match, still, time for Mane and Salah to show their chemistry. First, the Egyptian serving the Senegalese winger, then Mane assisting his teammate for Salah’s 3rd goal in this year’s Champions League.

Genk scored a consolation goal by Odey, but they could not avoid the trashing. Liverpool is still second in the group though, as Napoli lead.

Salzburg 2 x 3 Napoli

After disgracing Genk and scaring Liverpool, Salzburg impressed again, this time against Napoli. The man on focus was once again the Norwegian wonder Haaland.

The game did not begin auspiciously for the prodigy, as he missed a penalty for his team in the early minutes. Mertens would then put Napoli in front, following a pass from Callejon.

Salzburg did not quit and showed why they are one of the surprising teams of this year’s Champions League. Before the break, Malcuit did a clumsy foul in the area and this time Haaland did not fail, scoring his 5th goal in the group stage.

Mertens would net his second though, with Malcuit redeeming himself with an assist. Less than 10 minutes later, though, Haaland would be back at it again, finishing a pass from Junuzovic. This is his 6th goal in 3 games in the competition and his 20th goal overall, in 13 games.

Napoli did not have time to shiver, as Insigne scored one minute later, to re-establish the advantage. The result did not suffer any change and Napoli is top of the group. Still, it’s Haaland who makes the headlines once again.

Group F

Slavia Praha 1 x 2 Barcelona

In the so-called ‘group of death’, Barcelona went to play with the outsider, as Inter and Dortmund played each other. However, Slavia Praha, just like in their games against the other two teams, proved they are tougher than they seem.

The match opened up easily for Barcelona, with Leo Messi scoring the opener after just 3 minutes. The Argentinian playmaker started and finished it, combining with Arthur, for a fine goal.

Messi cemented his place as the top scorer in the history of the Champions League group stages. He also equaled Cristiano Ronaldo and Raul, becoming the 3rd player to score against 33 different teams in the competition.

Slavia battled through and they iced the ‘Blaugrana’ fans with a goal in the second half. Jan Boril was the author of the goal and Slavia believed they could take a point from this game.

Their dream ended in an unfortunate way, as Olayinka deflected a shot into his own net. Barcelona still runs rampant at the top of the group, but they were not relieved of a scare in Prague.

Inter 2 x 0 Borussia Dortmund

The defeat at Camp Nou cost Inter the leadership of the group. They know if they want to go through they will likely have to battle against Dortmund for that spot. The ‘Yellow Wall’ arrived confident in this match after a victory in Bundesliga last weekend that put them closer to the top.

Nonetheless, Antonio Conte’s Inter appeared stronger early in the game and Lautaro Martinez underlined his peaking form as he scored once again for the ‘Nerazzurri’. The Argentinian forward has 6 goals this season in all competitions.

Lautaro could have scored a brace after Weigl committed a penalty. However, Burki defended the effort. Dortmund’s goalkeeper was unable to defend the second, minutes later, as Candreva made a run to the box, completing it with a quality finish.

Inter moves second in the group, while Dortmund drops to 3rd.

Group G

Benfica 2 x 1 Lyon

It has been quite a long time since Benfica has won a game in Champions League and after two consecutive defeats, the fans were not confident about a positive result. However, the opponent now was Lyon, who have struggled in Ligue 1 this season and has already changed coaches.

Lyon demonstrated their defensive weaknesses in this fixture, as the Liga NOS table champions opened the score quite early, following a chaotic scene in the box. With the ball ‘ping-ponging’ around, Rafa Silva took the chance and made it 1×0 in Lisbon for the home side.

Benfica looked stronger than Lyon in the first half but looked more debile in the second. It took the Ligue 1 table side until the 70 minutes to take advantage of the Eagles’ fragility, as Memphis Depay concluded a left post finish.

The game would probably be settled for a draw if it wasn’t for Anthony Lopes’ comical mistake. In a very unusual mistake from the goalie, he left the net open. Benfica took advantage of Lopes’ silly mistake and Pizzi scored halfway far from the box.

The Eagles are still at the bottom of the group, but now the group’s fates have become more interesting since all teams have lost at least once.

RB Leipzig 2 x 1 Zenit St. Petersburg

Zenit visited Leipzig in a favorable position, after a draw and a win over Benfica. Leipzig had lost the previous game against Lyon, so they needed a win to get back on track.

The German side showed that the home factor makes a difference as they looked stronger throughout the game, but it was Zenit who opened the score. Rakitskiy with a rocket from far away surprised Gulacsi and put the Russians in front.

Shortly after the teams had come from the halftime break, Austrian midfielder Laimer tied back the game, following a pass from Sabitzer.

Marcel Sabitzer would be in the spotlight once again as he scored the eventual winning goal. Klostermann found the attacking midfielder alone in the box and he controlled it with the chest, before shooting a first touch effort that flew to the top left angle. A shot that kinda defies the laws of physics and a goal to remember.

Zenit was unable to come back from being 2×1 down and the 3 points stayed safely at home with Leipzig.

Group H

Ajax 0 x 1 Chelsea

Frank Lampard went to Amsterdam with his young squad with a tough mission to overcome an unstoppable Ajax team. So far in this group, the Eredivisie table champions had battered both Lille and Valencia, scoring 6 goals and suffering none.

Meanwhile, Chelsea struggled to get past Lille in the last matchday and got defeated in London by Valencia. Still, the Blues showed why that they are improving match by match and were able to keep a clean sheet, with Tomori and goalkeeper Kepa making impressive exhibitions.

A game that, nevertheless, had some controversy, with Ajax asking for the video referee to be called after Alonso touched a ball inside the box with his hand. The referee denied and said to play on.

Later one the VAR was called, but it was against Ajax. Quincy Promes scored, but the assistant and the review confirmed the Dutch winger was offside.

Ajax did enough to deserve a goal, but they were eventually punished in the last minutes of the match. Substitute Michi Batshuayi arrived just in time to answer to Pulisic’s pass.

Chelsea jumps on the ship and finishes the first round of the group stages in the qualifying places. Ajax lost their first game and conceded their first goal so far, but they still are top of the group.

Lille 1 x 1 Valencia

Last season’s Ligue 1 runners-up Lille were desperate to get a point in Champions League after two consecutive defeats. Valencia was the visitor this time and the ‘Che’ team has only themselves to blame for gifting Lille that 1 point.

In a tight affair, it was Russian winger Cheryshev who broke the deadlock, following a pass from Kevin Gameiro.

However, when the La Liga table side was on their way to guarantee the 3 points, Diakhaby got two yellow cards in 2 minutes. The defender got sent off and that allowed more space to Lille, who took advantage by Jonathan Ikone.

Ikone with a swift dribble took away one Valencia defender, before a smooth finish over Cillessen. Lille might have not won a game yet, but they get a point that can boost their confidence to avoid the last place of the group.

More European football this Thursday…

Champions League returns in two weeks, but you can check here the current standings. This Thursday more European football, with clashes between Celtic and Lazio and Porto and Rangers for Europa League.

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