Napoli thrash Liverpool as Lewandowski nets hat-trick for Barca in Champions League

Napoli thrash Liverpool as Lewandowski nets hat-trick for Barca in Champions League

by Joseph Anthony
170 views 6 mins read

Piotr Zielinski struck twice and assisted another as Liverpool’s poor start to the season continued with a humbling 4-1 defeat at Napoli in their Champions League opener.

Jurgen Klopp’s side have underwhelmed in their first six Premier League games, winning just twice, and were behind after only five minutes in Naples following Zielinski’s penalty.

Alisson denied Victor Osimhen’s spot-kick just 13 minutes later, but Napoli were 3-0 up at half-time after strikes from Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa and Giovanni Simeone, the latter on his Champions League debut.

Zielinski finished past Alisson again after the interval before Luiz Diaz responded with a bending effort – a mere consolation goal for Liverpool in the Group A encounter.

Osimhen rounded Alisson before striking the post with just a minute played, but Napoli were soon ahead after James Milner handled Zielinski’s effort inside the area.

Zielinski found the bottom-left corner from the resulting penalty and another spot-kick arrived soon after when VAR sent referee Carlos del Cerro Grande to check a Virgil van Dijk foul on Osimhen, who was then denied by Alisson diving to his right.

Van Dijk cleared off the line with the goal gaping for Khvicha Kvaratskhelia but Napoli doubled their lead when Zielinski teed up Anguissa, who fired under the onrushing Alisson.

Alex Meret tipped away a goal-bound Van Dijk header before Simeone, on for the injured Osimhen, turned Kvaratskhelia’s driven cross into an empty net on the stroke of half-time.

Zielinski doubled his account just two minutes after the break, dinking over Alisson on the rebound following Simeone’s pass, before Diaz curled into the bottom-right corner after Andy Robertson’s offload.

Meret pushed a powerful Diaz header over from Trent Alexander-Arnold’s cross but Liverpool were unable to recover after a toothless first-half showing.

Richarlison at the double as Spurs return to Champions League in style

Richarlison scored his first two Tottenham goals as they marked their return to the Champions League for the first time since the 2019-20 season with a 2-0 win over 10-man Marseille on Wednesday.

Spurs started slowly in their first competitive clash against the Ligue 1 side, but their cause was helped significantly just after half-time when Chancel Mbemba was shown a straight red card for a professional foul.

Antonio Conte’s men took full advantage of that numerical advantage inside the closing 15 minutes as Richarlison twice headed past Pau Lopez to the delight of the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium crowd.

The result means Spurs are level on three points with Sporting CP at the Group D summit after the Portuguese side beat Eintracht Frankfurt 3-0 earlier in the day.

Spurs did most of the pressing in the first half, yet their only chance of note fell to Harry Kane five minutes before the interval, the England captain dragging wide after being played in by Son Heung-min.

Marseille’s hopes of going back to France with a positive result were dealt a blow two minutes into the second half when Mbemba received his marching orders for bringing down a clean-through Son just outside the penalty area.

Substitute Dejan Kulusevski injected some much-needed spark into Spurs’ attack following his introduction on the hour mark, and the new-look hosts went ahead in the 76th minute when Richarlison headed home Ivan Perisic’s cross.

The former Everton man put the result beyond doubt five minutes later with another header – this time from Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg’s cross – that left Lopez with no chance.

Superb Sane gets Bundesliga champions up and running

Bayern Munich defeated Inter 2-0 at San Siro in their Champions League opener thanks to a first-half strike from Leroy Sane and Danilo D’Ambrosio’s own goal.

The visitors dominated the opening stages and deservedly went ahead through Sane when he brilliantly brought down a Joshua Kimmich long ball, before rounding Andre Onana and drilling home.

Julian Nagelsmann’s side came under increasing Inter pressure in the second half, but D’Ambrosio’s awkward attempt at a block from a Sane shot killed the game off and earned Bayern all three points.

Bayern have now won their last 19 Champions League openers, as the Bundesliga titans paved the way for what they hope will be qualification from a tough Group C.

Hat-trick hero Lewandowski turns on the style in rampant win

Robert Lewandowski scored his first Barcelona hat-trick as the Blaugrana met expectations with a dominant 5-1 win over Viktoria Plzen to open their Champions League campaign.

Barca’s three first-half goals were more than they managed over the whole group stage last season (two) when they were dumped into the Europa League, though sterner challenges await.

Plzen had moments against an unconvincing Barca defence, with Jan Sykora netting just before the break, but the hosts were already ahead thanks to Franck Kessie and Lewandowski, who made it 3-1 on the stroke of half-time.

Although the tempo slowed slightly, Barca remained dominant after the break and Lewandowski ensured he became the first player to net a Champions League hat-trick with three different teams before Ferran Torres got in on the act.

Barca deservedly went in front early when Jules Kounde’s header from a corner set up Kessie to nod in on his first start for the club.

Plzen looked set to level when Andreas Christensen clumsily tripped Jhon Mosquera in the box, but a foul on the Dane was spotted following a VAR review.

That reprieve was added to soon after as Lewandowski ruthlessly found the bottom-right corner from 20 yards.

Plzen at least appeared to be going into the break within touching distance thanks to Sykora converting from close range, but the excellent Ousmane Dembele teed up a stooping Lewandowski header to swiftly restore the two-goal lead.

Ansu Fati surprisingly sliced well wide in the first minute of a second half that was significantly less intense, but his wastefulness mattered little.

Lewandowski increased the deficit and cap his hat-trick with another sumptuous 20-yard finish after a neat interchange with Torres.

The Spain winger then rounded things off with a thumping strike from Dembele’s cross.

Gers suffer heavy loss in Champions League opener

Ajax blew away Rangers with three first-half goals as the Dutch giants kicked off their Champions League campaign with a resounding 4-0 victory in Amsterdam on Wednesday.

Edson Alvarez, Steven Berghuis and Mohammed Kudus were all on target inside 33 minutes, with that Ajax’s earliest three-goal lead in the competition’s history.

Rangers, also beaten 4-0 by rivals Celtic at the weekend, made a triple substitution at the break but Ajax showed no remorse and added a late fourth through Steven Bergwijn.

Ajax were dominant from the first whistle and there was a sense of inevitably about their opener when an unmarked Alvarez headed in Dusan Tadic’s in-swinging corner.

Berghuis added a somewhat fortunate second for Ajax, the Netherlands winger’s strike taking a big deflection off James Sands on its way past Jon McLaughlin.

A quickfire third followed as Kudus was allowed to charge into the box and fire a stunning shot across McLaughlin and into the top-far corner.

Rangers had a Borna Barisic strike chalked off for offside, and Ajax only added to their opponents’ pain thanks to Bergwijn’s finish following a terrible pass from Ryan Jack.

Griezmann nets dramatic winner in 11th minute of stoppage time

Antoine Griezmann stepped off the bench to guide Atletico Madrid to a remarkable 2-1 win over 10-man Porto in the Champions League, in a match that featured three stoppage-time goals.

Atleti and Porto played out a goalless draw when they met on the opening matchday of last season’s Champions League, and a repeat looked likely for the duration of normal time on Wednesday.

But after Mehdi Taremi picked up a second yellow card for simulation, Mario Hermoso fired Atleti ahead before handling in his own area, allowing Mateus Uribe to level the scores with a 96th-minute penalty.

There was to be one final twist in the 11th minute of added time, however, as Griezmann reacted quickest from an Atleti corner to cap a remarkable contest with a dramatic winner.

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