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Saturday 27 February 2021

Chelsea march on, Barca seal nervy win and PSG fall to Leipzig on another eventful Champions League night

Juventus and Dortmund also won their group stage clashes.

LIONEL MESSI SCORED another penalty but Barcelona had Marc-Andre ter Stegen to thank for a nervy Champions League 2-1 win over Dynamo Kiev on Wednesday, which will do little to ease the pressure on coach Ronald Koeman. 

laliga-santander-fc-barcelona-v-real-sociedad-marc-7th Lionel Messi celebrates scoring. Source: Eric Alonso

Goalkeeper Ter Stegen had to make a string of excellent stops at Camp Nou to save Barca from slipping up against a depleted Dynamo side, who were without nine first team players after they tested positive for coronavirus.

Viktor Tsygankov gave Dynamo hope with 15 minutes left after Messi scored a penalty and Gerard Pique headed in but Ter Stegen’s heroics ensured Barcelona held on for their third victory out of three in Group G.

Their 100% record so far in the Champions League, which included an impressive performance away at Juventus last week, has come in stark contrast to a stumbling start to the season in La Liga. 

A 1-1 draw away at Alaves on Saturday made it four league games without a win and leaves Barcelona sitting 12th in the table, eight points behind Real Madrid. 

Victory against Dynamo was therefore all-important for morale and for Koeman, whose future is uncertain given a new president will take over in the next three months after the resignation of Josep Maria Bartomeu.

Yet there were no celebrations from the players at full-time and Koeman’s face throughout was one of angst and frustration as Ter Stegen was repeatedly called upon.

Elswehere, Timo Werner scored two penalties as Chelsea powered to a 3-0 win against 10-man Rennes. Werner netted twice before half-time at Stamford Bridge after Rennes defender Dalbert conceded both penalties.

Dalbert was sent off after the second penalty and Chelsea made the most of their numerical advantage to score again through Tammy Abraham early in the second half.

Frank Lampard’s side are top of Group E with seven points after three games and look well set to qualify for the last 16.

The Blues have started a Champions League campaign with three consecutive clean-sheets in the group stage for the first time since 2009-10.

As well as keeping five successive clean-sheets in all competitions for the first time in 10 years, banishing the defensive problems that ailed them earlier this season, they’ve scored 10 goals in their last three games.

The combination of a well-drilled defence and a potent attack is a welcome sight for Lampard, who has been working overtime to find the right formula after spending over £200 million on new signings in the close-season. Chelsea are now unbeaten in seven games in all competitions.

Meanwhile, Emil Forsberg’s penalty proved decisive as RB Leipzig came from behind to beat a weakened Paris Saint-Germain 2-1, dealing a major blow to the Champions League aspirations of last season’s runners-up.

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rb-leipzig-paris-saint-germain PSG were beaten. Source: DPA/PA Images

Angel di Maria had given PSG an early lead in Germany but he then crucially missed a penalty for the French champions, who were missing both Neymar and Kylian Mbappe due to injury and ended this game with nine men.

Christopher Nkunku equalised before half-time for Leipzig and Forsberg converted from the spot in the 57th minute before the visitors had both Idrissa Gana Gueye and Presnel Kimpembe sent off.

For Leipzig the result is a measure of revenge following their 3-0 defeat to PSG in the semi-finals of last season’s competition in Lisbon in August.

It also further blows open Group H after Istanbul Basaksehir stunned Manchester United earlier, winning their clash 2-1 in Turkey.

Another double strike from Alvaro Morata propelled Juventus to a 4-1 win against Hungarian minnows Ferencvaros as Cristiano Ronaldo returned from coronavirus for his first Champions League game this season.

The Spaniard struck in each half, repeating his double haul against Dynamo Kiev in the Group G opener, with a late Paulo Dybala tap-in and an own-goal by Lasha Dvali easing Juventus past their hosts in Budapest.

And Erling Braut Haaland scored twice as Borussia Dortmund claimed a 3-0 group stage win over Club Brugge.

Norwegian striker Haaland took his Champions League season tally to four goals as Belgian internationals Thorgan Hazard, Axel Witsel and Thomas Meunier helped him blast away Brugge in a dominant first half display from Dortmund. 

The win brings Dortmund back on course to qualify from Group F after suffering an early setback with a 3-1 defeat to Lazio in the opening game. 

The Bundesliga side now lead the group ahead of Lazio, who were held to a 1-1 draw away to Zenit St Petersburg earlier.

© – AFP, 2020

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