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Dublin: 13 °C Wednesday 23 October, 2019

Boost for Man United and Juve as Valencia held by Young Boys

In tonight’s other early Champions League clash, meanwhile, Bayern Munich won 2-0 away against AEK Athens.

Michy Batshuayi pictured competing against Young Boys.
Michy Batshuayi pictured competing against Young Boys.
Image: Imago/PA Images

GUILLAUME HOARAU’S second-half penalty earned Young Boys their first Champions League point on Tuesday after a 1-1 draw with Valencia in Bern.

Michy Batshuayi gave Valencia the lead on 26 minutes in the Group H clash, but former France striker Hoarau converted from the spot as Young Boys also scored their first goal in the competition.

The Swiss champions nearly snatched victory late on at the Stade de Suisse but Valencia goalkeeper Neto pulled off a superb save to divert Sekou Sanogo’s header onto the post.

Young Boys remain at the bottom of the group, while Valencia’s bid to qualify for the last 16 ahead of Manchester United or Juventus suffered a blow with the Spanish club on two points after three games.

Valencia, now with just eight goals in 12 matches this term, were unable to fully exploit a Young Boys defence featuring 36-year-old Champions League debutant Marco Wolfli in goal and missing the suspended Mohamed Ali Camara.

Marcelino’s side moved in front when Chelsea loanee Batshuayi gathered a pass from Carlos Soler and rounded Wolfli to slot home his second goal for Valencia.

Young Boys right-back Kevin Mbabu dragged an effort narrowly wide of the right upright minutes into the second half, with Christian Fassnacht then unable to generate enough power in his header to beat Neto.

The Swiss side’s sustained pressure paid off though as they were awarded a penalty on 55 minutes when Valencia captain Dani Parejo brought down Djibril Sow in the area.

It was the second spot-kick conceded by Parejo in three games in Europe, and after Hoarau fired the hosts level only the brilliance of Neto allowed a struggling Valencia to hold on for a draw.

The Brazilian turned behind a low strike from Fassnacht shortly after the Young Boys equaliser, but saved his best for last with a marvellous fingertip stop to deny Sanogo before he smothered the rebound at the feet of Roger Assale.

AEK Athens vs Bayern Munich Bayern Munich players celebrate a goal. Source: DPA/PA Images

Meanwhile, quick-fire goals by Javi Martinez and Robert Lewandowski on Tuesday moved Bayern Munich top of their Champions League group with a 2-0 win at AEK Athens, as they made it back-to-back victories after a difficult start to the season.

Dogged defending by the reigning Greek champions left Bayern facing a frustrating draw until Martinez finally broke through with an hour gone at AEK, who travel to the Allianz Arena in a fortnight’s time.

“It was very difficult, the pitch was not good, we played well in the first half, but the final pass was missing,” said Arjen Robben.

“We started using our chances and once Javi got the first goal, you could feel the relief.

“This was an important win for us.”

The result leaves Bayern top of Group E and puts pressure on nearest rivals Ajax, who earned a 1-1 draw in Munich three weeks ago, to beat Benfica in Amsterdam later on Tuesday and join the Germans on seven points, while AEK remain bottom after three straight defeats.

Bayern have never lost a European game in Greece, but despite breaking a four-match winless streak with a 3-1 victory at Wolfsburg on Saturday in the Bundesliga, the German champions laboured until Martinez scored with an athletic half-volley.

The hosts’ best chance of the match came on 20 minutes when Argentinian striker Ezequiel Ponce held off Bayern defender Mats Hummels, but fired wide.

At the other end, Thiago Alcantara’s pass rolled agonisingly away from Bayern striker Lewandowski.

Just as it was looking like AEK might earn their first point in the group stage, Bayern turned the game.

Hummels picked out Robben, whose effort was blocked, but the ball flew towards Martinez, who slammed his shot home.

Any frustrations in the Bayern ranks disappeared and just two minutes later they struck again.

Serge Gnabry, a constant threat on the right wing, played in Rafinha inside the box with a clever backheel, and the Brazilian’s low cross found Lewandowski unmarked to tap home and delight the travelling fans.

It was Lewandowski’s third goal in two games after also netting twice at Wolfsburg.

Thiago tried an acrobatic volley of his own with 15 minutes left which flew wide as Bayern kept on the pressure to safeguard the three points.

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