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Dublin: 4°C Tuesday 1 December 2020

No Zlatan but Barca burned in Paris, Bayern march on with minimal fuss

Plus, our Cillian Sheridan in the Champions League watch continues.


Barcelona 2

PSG OVERCAME THE absence of their injured talisman Zlatan Ibrahimovic to beat Barcelona 3-2 in a thrilling Champions League Group F encounter.

The Catalans, who had not even conceded a goal all season in seven matches before this one, fell behind inside 10 minutes when David Luiz prodded in his first PSG goal.

Soccer -  UEFA Champions League - Group F  - Paris St-Germain v Barcelona - Parc des Princes Source: Adam Davy

Barcelona needed just two minutes to draw level thanks to a marvellous Lionel Messi strike, but Marco Verratti headed the hosts back in front after 26 minutes and Blaise Matuidi added another in the 54th minute.

Neymar reduced the deficit, yet Paris held on for their first win in the group after a 1-1 draw at Ajax two weeks ago, while Barca failed to build on a narrow 1-0 win over APOEL of Cyprus in their first outing.

“We were up against a rival of the same level as us and we had the kind of difficulties that are normal in such a game,” said Barcelona coach Luis Enrique.”In the end I think we could have drawn and it would have been a fair result.”

Barcelona arrived in France in fine form but this was billed as their biggest test since the arrival of their new coach in the summer, even if their hosts were denied the services of Ezequiel Lavezzi and captain Thiago Silva as well as the prolific Ibrahimovic.

Edinson Cavani spearheaded their attack, while Barcelona again had Marc-Andre ter Stegen in goal in Europe rather than La Liga regular Claudio Bravo.

But their previously watertight defence looked fragile against a PSG side who started with all guns blazing and were soon rewarded.

Daniel Alves gave away a free-kick for stopping a Paris attack with his hand, and the home side opened the scoring from the resulting delivery, Luiz controlling Lucas’s ball in from the left before turning and poking the ball into the far corner from eight yards.

Barcelona’s defence had finally been breached for the first time this season after 640 minutes, but their response was immediate.

Trademark brilliance

Indeed, the celebrations were still ongoing when the Catalans drew level thanks to a moment of trademark brilliance, Messi exchanging lightning-quick first-time passes with Andres Iniesta and Neymar before giving Salvatore Sirigu in goal no chance with a left-foot strike into the far corner.

It was the Argentine’s 68th Champions League goal, putting him level with his great rival Cristiano Ronaldo in the all-time standings and to within three of the competition’s all-time leading scorer, Raul.

However, PSG were not deterred, and while Neymar lifted the ball just over the bar following a lofted pass into the box by Messi, the home side regained the advantage in the 26th minute.

France Soccer Champions League Source: Christophe Ena

Again the goal came from a set-piece, and this time Barcelona’s defence looked especially unsure of themselves, ter Stegen flapping at a Thiago Motta right-wing corner and Ivan Rakitic allowing Verratti, the smallest player in the PSG side, to head into the net at the far post to score his first goal for the club.

Barcelona trailed despite having almost 60 percent of the possession in the first half, with Messi curling a free-kick just over the bar a minute prior to the break.

PSG were simply the more clinical of the two teams and extended their advantage nine minutes after the restart, a Gregory van der Wiel cross from near the right corner flag flashing all the way across the penalty box for Matuidi – who scored in the last meeting of the clubs here 18 months ago – to convert.

Again Barcelona needed just two minutes to muster a response, Neymar getting his seventh of the season with a delightful control and calm side-footed finish into the net off the right-hand post.

They then camped around the penalty box as they went in search of a leveller, but Marquinhos produced a crucial flying block to prevent Jordi Alba from equalising before substitute Munir El Haddadi fizzed in a shot that grazed the outside of the right post and went wide.

- © AFP, 2014

CSKA Moscow 0

Bayern Munich 1

A first-half penalty by Thomas Mueller was sufficient for Bayern to beat Russian champions CSKA and make it two wins from two matches in their Champions League group stage campaign.

Bayern, winners in 2013 but beaten by eventual champions Real Madrid in the semi-finals last season, have six points from two games, two ahead of Roma who claimed a point against Manchester City.

Russia Soccer Champions League Source: Pavel Golovkin

CSKA have no points from two matches after receiving no boost from the home support for this game as the crowd were banned after unrest during the group game with Viktoria Plzen last season led UEFA to impose a ban.

Bayern coach Pep Guardiola, whose week had started along with his players on a disruptive note as they had to vacate their hotel room, after a fire alarm went off in the middle of the night, said that he was pleased with the result given CSKA had just come out with the ambition of defending.

“It was really difficult to penetrate the CSKA defence today as they kept 10 of their players back with only (Ahmed) Musa in attack,” said Guardiola.

“However, we allowed them to produce two dangerous counter-attacks in the first half. Luckily, they did not score.”

- © AFP, 2014


Ajax 1

Gustavo Manduca’s first-half penalty earned APOEL their first point of this season’s Champions League as they drew 1-1 with Ajax.

Cyprus Soccer Champions League Cavan's Cillian Sheridan joins in the celebrations with Manduca. Source: Petros Karadjias

The Brazilian made no mistake from 12 yards to secure a share of the spoils, but the Cypriot side had to withstand intense pressure in the closing minutes. After controlling the early exchanges Frank de Boer’s side opened the scoring two minutes before the half-hour mark as Lucas Andersen netted his first European goal.

BATE Borisov 2

Athletic Bilbao 1

Athletic Bilbao’s nightmare start to the season continued as their chances of progressing to the last 16 of the Champions League were severely dented by a 2-1 loss to BATE Borisov.

The Belarussian champions had been beaten 6-0 by Porto in their opening game, but bounced back in style as first-half goals from Denis Polyakov and Aleksandr Karnitski handed them the three points.

Aritz Aduriz’s strike just before half-time had given Athletic some hope, however, they now languish at the bottom of Group H as their winless streak in all competitions extends to six games.

- © AFP, 2014

Shaktar Donetsk 2

Porto 2

Jackson Martinez scored two late goals as Porto came back from 2-0 down to claim a draw with Shakhtar Donetsk in Lviv.

Shakhtar looked destined for victory after Luiz Adriano tapped in with five minutes to go to add to the lead given to them earlier in the second half by Alex Teixeira. However, Porto, who had a Yacine Brahimi first-half penalty saved by Andriy Pyatov, staged a stunning late fightback.

They were given a lifeline in the final minute when Yaroslav Rakitskiy was penalised for handball in the box and substitute Martinez tucked in the resulting spot-kick. And Porto claimed the unlikeliest of points when Martinez, who had been introduced in the 65th minute, stole in at the near post to finish Cristian Tello’s low cross in the 93rd minute.

The draw extends Porto’s unbeaten start to the season and gives them a point to add to the three they earned in the first round of Group H matches, courtesy of their 6-0 home win over BATE

Schalke 1

Maribor 1

Damjan Bohar was the hero as Maribor continued their fine start to their UEFA Champions League campaign by drawing 1-1 away to Schalke.

Bohar, who scored two goals in the qualifying rounds to help Maribor return to the group stage after a 15-year absence, silenced the Veltins-Arena crowd following a superb passing move before half-time. Klass-Jan Huntelaar then capitalised on a defensive error to equalise, with what was his 24th goal in 31 European appearances for Schalke.

However, despite Jens Keller’s side’s late pressure, the Slovenian champions held on to make it two points from two outings in Group G.

Barca’s brilliant team effort and the rest of the goals from their thriller with PSG

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