Champions League: City cut loose; Haller runs riot with four goals as Ajax breeze past Sporting CP

FPJ News ServiceUpdated: Thursday, September 16, 2021, 11:41 PM IST
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Geneva: The excitement continued throughout in the ongoing UEFA Champions League with standout performances galore. While Liverpool and Manchester City both won high-scoring games, Sébastien Haller struck a remarkable four goals for Ajax on his competition debut.

Manchester City scored half a dozen while conceding half of it in their 6-3 against Leipzig, in a group A match on Wednesday.

Nathan Ake's header and Nordi Mukiele's own goal put the hosts in control, but Christopher Nkunku nodded in to give Leipzig hope. A Riyad Mahrez penalty just before half-time looked to have quickly extinguished it, yet Nkunku's second header caused City concern again until Jack Grealish, on his competition debut, added a fine fourth. Leipzig still weren't done, Nkunku completing his hat-trick, but João Cancelo and Gabriel Jesus made the game safe either side of a red card for former City player Angeliño.

Nkunku is the fourth player to score a in this league hat-trick in a losing cause, after Ronaldo (Manchester United 4-3 Real Madrid, 2002/03), Gareth Bale (Tottenham 3-4 Inter, 2010/11) and İrfan Can Kahveci (İstanbul Başakşehir 3-4 Leipzig, 2020/21).

Jordan Henderson's splendid half-volley proved the difference at Anfield, as Liverpool prevailed 3-2 against AC Milan. Liverpool began like a train, Fikayo Tomori inadvertently turning into his own net to put the Reds ahead before Mike Maignan saved Mohamed Salah's penalty. Ante Rebic and Brahim Díaz struck in quick succession to secure Milan an interval advantage, but Salah restored parity before the Liverpool captain provided the winner.

This was just the third time these two teams had met in European competition; the other two were Champions League finals (2005 and 2007).

Thanks to the 89th minute Rodrygo enabled Real Madrid to snatch points from Inter in a solitary goal win, as hosts Inter were made to pay for missed opportunities. Thibaut Courtois pulled off a string of fine stops from Edin Džeko and Lautaro Martínez before Eduardo Camavinga carved out an opening for his fellow sub at the end.

Earlier in the first match of the day, debutants Sheriff pulled off a 2-0 win over Shakhtar Donetsk.

Adama Traore volleyed in Cristiano's cross to hand the Moldovan club an early lead, and although the visitors dominated, not least winning 17 corners, there was no way through. A second counterattack then sealed the result, Cristiano centering this time for substitute Momo Yansane to head in.

In what many expected to be a run victors, the star-studded Paris Saint-Germain retured empty handed against underrated Belgian champion Club Brugge.

With the likes of Lionel Messi, Kylian Mbappé and Neymar in the line-up PSG which was termed as a near-perfect attack, still could not score or deliver a win in the Champions League

Instead, it was low-key midfielder Ander Herrera who got PSG's goal in a 1-1 draw at underrated Belgian champion Club Brugge.

Though Messi saw a first-half shot strike the crossbar, he was later shown a yellow card for a foul and Mbappé went off because of an injured left ankle.

Three-time European champion Messi was added to PSG's already stellar squad last month to drive the Qatar-owned club's quest to win soccer's most coveted club prize.

The Jan Breydel Stadium in Belgium was a modest venue for the Messi-Mbappé-Neymar forward line to be unveiled for the first time. They lasted just 50 minutes together, though Mbappé did create Herrera's opening goal from a sharp first-time shot in the 15th minute.

Club Brugge rose to the moment and captain Hans Vanaken leveled in the 27th.

Sebastien Haller's much-delayed European debut for Ajax wrote some Champions League history.

Signed from West Ham in January for 22.5 million euros ($26.7 million), Haller could not play in the Europa League because of his new club's administrative error.

Erling Haaland's prolific Champions League record continued with a goal in Borussia Dortmund's 2-1 win at Besiktas. The Norway star now has 21 goals from 17 games in the competition.

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