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Dublin: 5°C Monday 1 March 2021

Bayern's struggles continue as they're held by Ajax, Roma fire five while Lyon salvage draw

Elsewhere, Benfica beat AEK Athens 3-2.

Image: Imago/PA Images

BAYERN MUNICH’S RECENT struggles continued as Ajax held them to a 1-1 draw in their Champions League Group E clash.

After winning their opening seven games of the season under new coach Niko Kovac, the Bundesliga champions had picked up just one point in their last two games against Augsburg and Hertha Berlin before the Dutch side’s visit to the Allianz Arena.

They looked like they would get back on track when Mats Hummels’ fourth-minute header put them ahead, but Erik ten Hag’s youthful side bounced back in style, levelling midway through the half thanks to Noussair Mazraoui’s fine strike.

Substitute James Rodriguez came closest to finding an undeserved winner for Bayern in the second period, while Donny van de Beek will be left to rue a golden opportunity 20 minutes from time for Ajax when he fired wide with only Manuel Neuer to beat.

Elsewhere, Edin Dzeko took his goal tally against Viktoria Plzen to eight in five games with a second consecutive hat-trick against the Czech champions as Roma got their Champions League campaign back on track with a 5-0 win.

Italy: AS Roma v Viktoria Plzen - UEFA Champions League Group G Source: SIPA USA/PA Images

After slipping to a 3-0 reverse against Real Madrid in their Group G opener, Eusebio Di Francesco’s side took charge against Plzen who gave Dzeko the kind of space he has been craving all season as he netted two first-half goals.

The Bosnian striker scored a hat-trick against Plzen in the Europa League in 2016-17 and history repeated itself, but not before he provided a key contribution towards Roma’s third, which was scored by Cengiz Under.

Justin Kluivert scored his first goal for the club, stroking the ball home after Under’s effort was saved, before Dzeko rose to head home a corner in the dying moments of an excellent night for Di Francesco’s men.

Meanwhile, Lyon scored twice inside two second-half minutes to salvage a late 2-2 home draw with Shakhtar Donetsk and stay top of Group F.

Imago 20181002 Source: Imago/PA Images

Memphis Depay’s second-half introduction sparked a remarkable fightback that saw Moussa Dembele and Leo Dubois net 119 seconds apart at an empty Groupama Stadium.

Lyon, shock 2-1 winners at Manchester City a fortnight ago, were forced to play this match beyond closed doors as punishment for crowd disturbances during last season’s Europa League, and the eerie atmosphere initially played into Shakhtar’s hands.

Junior Moraes struck a double either side of half-time to put the visitors within reach of a second Champions League away victory in 10 attempts but, despite their earlier dominance, Dembele and Dubois’ rescue act ultimately left them clinging onto a second consecutive draw.

And, Benfica ended their Champions League hoodoo as Alfa Semedo scored a stunning goal to secure a 3-2 victory at AEK Athens in Group E.

Greece Soccer Champions League Source: AP/PA Images

Viktor Klonaridis’ second-half double looked to have clinched a share of the spoils for AEK, who had taken full advantage of Ruben Dias’ red card late in the first half.

Yet Benfica, who were 2-0 up by the 15th minute thanks to Haris Seferovic and Alex Grimaldo, rallied through substitute Semedo’s solo effort on his debut in the Champions League proper.

The victory ends Benfica’s eight-match losing streak in the competition, getting them off the mark in a tightly-contested Group E.#

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