Lionel Messi scored his first Paris Saint-Germain goal and it was a significant one, helping put Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City to the sword in a 2-0 Champions League win for the French club.
Messi’s goal was both stunning and also so typical of the Argentine, as he burst forward from the right and played a one-two with Kylian Mbappe on the edge of the box, holding off Aymeric Laporte as he sent a first-time strike high into the net.
It raised the roof at the Parc des Princes, as PSG supporters celebrated seeing the six-time Ballon d’Or winner open his account for the club he joined in August.
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Idrissa Gana Gueye, arguably PSG’s best player this season, had given the home side an early lead to leave City chasing the game.
Guardiola’s side, who beat the French club in the semi-finals last season before losing the final, dominated large spells of the match in between the two goals, but their finishing let them down.
They will especially rue the moment in the first half when Raheem Sterling and Bernardo Silva each hit the bar in quick succession, but City will still be confident of progressing to the last 16.
PSG and Club Brugge, who won 2-1 at RB Leipzig on Tuesday, are level on four points at the top of Group A, with City on three having beat the Germans 6-3 a fortnight ago.
The Premier League champions will hope to take their revenge on PSG when they meet in the reverse fixture, but this was a night for the Qatar-owned rivals of Abu Dhabi-backed City to bask in the glow of having Messi.
The former Barcelona man had missed PSG’s last two games with a knee knock but the expectation was always that he was being saved for this glamour tie.
He had completed 90 minutes for PSG only once before this game since arriving to team up with Neymar and Mbappe in a dream front line.
Naturally all eyes are drawn to him when PSG play now, yet the surprise star for the French side so far this season has been Gueye, the Senegal midfielder who has four goals to his name after opening the scoring eight minutes in.
Neymar failed to properly connect with Mbappe’s cutback from the right but the ball fell to Gueye and he fired high into the net from close range.
Having kept Chelsea at bay in a 1-0 win at Stamford Bridge at the weekend, City were chasing the game already.
Guardiola had made two changes to his line-up from the Chelsea victory, with Gabriel Jesus and Phil Foden dropping out to make way for Sterling and Riyad Mahrez.
Sterling was involved as the visitors squandered a chance to equalise in comical fashion as the half-hour mark approached.
The England forward’s header came back off the bar and on its way down brushed Gianluigi Donnarumma, who was making his first ever Champions League appearance after being preferred to Keylor Navas in the Paris goal.
Silva was left with an easy chance to convert the loose ball from barely two metres but somehow also hit the bar.
City were succeeding in cutting off PSG’s front three from the rest of their team although the hosts might have scored again on the break in the 38th minute as an Ander Herrera shot was tipped over by Ederson.
Then came a flashpoint as Kevin De Bruyne escaped with a yellow card after his studs caught Gueye high above his ankle, the referee Carlos del Cerro Grande somewhat surprisingly not reviewing the images.
Despite that moment, this heavyweight showdown between the runners-up from the last two seasons often lacked the intensity that would certainly have been there in a knockout tie.
Donnarumma saved well from De Bruyne in the second half. Messi was largely a peripheral figure until conjured his moment of brilliance to kill off City.
RUTHLESS REDS SCORE FIVE AFTER KEEPER NIGHTMARE
Liverpool paid a fitting tribute to Roger Hunt as Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino scored twice in a 5-1 demolition of Porto in the Champions League.
Jurgen Klopp’s side wore black armbands after former Liverpool striker Hunt died earlier in the day aged 83.
Hunt was part of England’s 1966 World Cup-winning side and is Liverpool’s record league goal-scorer with 244 goals.
“Roger Hunt comes second to no-one in his importance in the history of Liverpool FC, that much is clear,” Klopp said.
Liverpool honoured Hunt’s memory with a dominant display and some predatory finishing at Estadio do Dragao, aided by three mistakes from hapless Porto keeper Diogo Costa.
Three days after scoring his 100th Premier League goal for Liverpool in the 3-3 draw at Brentford, Egypt forward Salah maintained his blistering start to the season with the first half opener.
Senegal winger Sadio Mane followed with his fourth goal this season and Salah netted again after the interval.
Porto, who drew with Atletico Madrid in their group opener, got one back through Mehdi Taremi.
Firmino punished Costa’s third howler to claim Liverpool’s fourth and the Brazilian netted again in the closing stages.
After beating AC Milan in their first game, Liverpool sit top of Group B with the maximum six points.
Such was Liverpool’s superiority that Klopp could even afford to take off Salah and Mane with over 20 minutes left.
It was the perfect preparation for the Premier League leaders’ crucial clash with champions Manchester City on Sunday.
With Trent Alexander-Arnold sidelined by a groin injury, midfielder James Milner had to deputise at right-back, but, unlike in their draw at Brentford, Liverpool were rarely troubled defensively.
Porto lost veteran defender Pepe to an injury suffered in the warm-up and they suffered another blow when Otavio limped off in tears with an apparent hamstring problem after 14 minutes.
Sergio Conceicao’s side were unable to overcome those problems and Liverpool went ahead in the 18th minute.
Curtis Jones, who was at the heart of all Liverpool’s best moments, made a buccaneering run into the Porto area and Costa weakly pushed out his stinging shot.
It bounced off Zaidu Sanusi to Salah, who prodded home from virtually on the goal-line.
That made Salah the third African player to reach 30 Champions League goals after Didier Drogba and Samuel Eto’o.
Jordan Henderson, making his 400th Liverpool appearance, tested Costa with a powerful drive that the Porto keeper tipped over.
But Costa was culpable again when Liverpool increased their advantage in the 45th minute.
Milner whipped a low cross into the six-yard box and Costa inexplicably put his arms behind his back to leave Mane with a tap-in at the far post.
Liverpool were in complete control and Salah put the result beyond doubt on the hour, taking Jones’ pass in stride and slotting past Costa from 12 yards.
Salah’s eighth goal of the campaign meant the Egyptian had netted in all but one of Liverpool’s eight games this season.
Taremi’s diving header in the 75th minute punished a brief lapse from Liverpool. Stung back into action, Liverpool bagged their fourth two minutes later when Costa rambled out of his penalty area in a failed attempt to reach Jones’ pass, allowing Firmino to steer a 40-yard strike into the empty net.
Firmino capped his cameo with his second goal in the 81st minute, this one a smart finish after Jones’ shot rebounded to the substitute.
REAL MADRID UPSET IN ALL-TIME STUNNER
Sheriff Tiraspol pulled off one of the biggest upsets in Champions League history by beating Real Madrid 2-1 at the Santiago Bernabeu, with Sebastien Thill smashing a stunning 89th-minute winner.
Madrid fell behind to Jasurbek Yakhshiboev’s header in the first half but Karim Benzema’s penalty appeared to have spared the blushes of the Spanish giants, only for Thill to snatch an incredible victory.
The result will go down as one of the most surprising in the history of the competition and delivers a significant boost to Sheriff’s chances of qualifying for the last 16.
They now have six points out of six in Group D, having already beaten Shakhtar Donetsk.
When Sheriff were founded in 1997, Madrid were about to win the seventh of their 13 European Cups.
Sheriff have since won 19 out of the last 21 Moldovan titles including the last six.
Yet upsetting the world’s most prestigious teams is less a football fairytale than a success story for a conglomerate company that controls businesses ranging from a cognac distillery to supermarkets, and a football club.
While Sheriff play in the Moldovan league, they are from Transnistria, a pro-Russian separatist state created after a civil war following the collapse of the Soviet Union.
The territory is effectively run by the Sheriff holding company, which sports a five-pointed sheriff’s star as its logo.
The question marks around the history of the club, however, could not detract from the satisfaction felt by the players, who celebrated the win at the final whistle as if they had won the entire tournament.
Thill, Sheriff’s match-winner, was last year playing on loan at Russian club FC Tambov, who in May were dissolved after declaring themselves bankrupt.
Real Madrid have time to recover but this is an unexpected setback for what has otherwise been an encouraging start under Carlo Ancelotti.
They were the more authoritative early on, but Sheriff scored with the first opportunity they got.
David Alaba was tempted out to press and as the ball was spread left, the sprinting defender was unable to catch up with Yakhshiboev, who headed in a perfectly weighted cross from Cristiano.
Madrid improved towards the end of the half but not before Sheriff could have made it two, Thibaut Courtois coming out to clear a ball over the top, only to sidefoot it straight to Frank Castaneda. He fed Yakhshiboev, who curled just wide.
Vinicius chipped past the post after a smart dummy by Eden Hazard, who then had a go himself from the angle but his shot was parried away.
The Madrid pressure kept coming in the second half as Vinicius appealed for two penalties in quick succession, the second given after a check from VAR.
The Brazilian had flicked the ball between Costanza and Edmond Addo, and gone down over the knee of the latter.
Benzema banged in the penalty and carried the ball back to the halfway line but it was Sheriff who had the ball in the net next, Bruno Souza diverting in at the near post, only to see it ruled out for offside.
Luka Modric’s shot hit Giorgos Athanasiadis in the face and the goalie hen recovered to deny Eder Militao. Rodrygo blazed over from Vinicius’ cutback.
Sheriff appeared to be hanging on for a draw but instead delivered a knock-out blow. A throw-in was hooked back to the edge of the area, where Thill unleashed a wonderful shot into the top corner.
$48 MILLION SIGNING COMES GOOD FOR DORTMUND
Donyell Malen made up for the absence of Erling Braut Haaland by scoring his first goal for Borussia Dortmund as the hosts beat Sporting Lisbon 1-0 to move joint top of their Champions League group and on a collision course with fellow leaders Ajax.
Dortmund were dealt a blow before kick-off at Signal Iduna Park when it was confirmed Haaland, who has scored 21 goals in just 17 Champions League games, was out with a leg injury.
With Haaland watching from the stands, Dortmund finally saw some return on the 30 million euros ($A48 million) they spent signing Malen from PSV Eindhoven in July when the 22-year-old scored his first goal in his tenth game for his new club.
It could have been more as Dortmund had three goals disallowed – two from Malen and one by club captain Marco Reus – all for offside.
The home win means Dortmund have six points, having also won at Besiktas a fortnight ago, to leave them top of Group C alongside Ajax, who they face away, then home in the next two rounds.
Three days after his first-half red card at Moenchengladbach, Dortmund again lost midfielder Mahmoud Dahoud early on, this time limping off after injuring his knee in an early challenge to be replaced by Germany’s Julian Brandt.
Dortmund took a while to settle after the disruption, but deservedly went into the break 1-0 up.
With 37 minutes gone, Malen scored at his third attempt on the night having already twice been offside – once when he headed against the post, then fired past Sporting goalkeeper Antonio Adan only to see the flag go up.
The goal was worth the wait and was one Haaland would have been proud of. Manuel Akanji found Jude Bellingham with a pin-point ball from the back and the England international released Malen with a superbly-timed pass for the Dutchman to fire his shot across the diving Adan and into the far corner.
For the second time, Dortmund had a goal disallowed when Marco Reus hit the net just after the break, only to be flagged for offside.
Malen had the ball in the net for the third time when he headed home, but his delighted celebrations were dampened by the VAR confirming yet another offside.
SUAREZ COMPLETES LATE COMEBACK AGAINST 10-MAN MILAN
Luis Suarez’s last-gasp penalty gave Atletico Madrid a 2-1 comeback win at AC Milan, who failed to hold on to their early lead after playing for an hour with 10-men.
Seven-time European champions Milan thought they were on for their first Champions League win since 2013 when Rafael Leao opened the scoring with 19 minutes gone in the Group B clash at the San Siro, but Antoine Griezmann struck with a superb volley with six minutes left to level the scores before Suarez’s stoppage-time spot-kick broke Milan hearts.
Diego Simeone’s side sit second in the group on four points, two behind Liverpool, after the win which looked unlikely util Franck Kessie was sent off in the 30th minute for a second bookable offence.
Milan were on top until then, snappy in the tackle and on top of Atleti every time the away side had the ball, but sit bottom with zero points following their second successive defeat.
Brahim Diaz was at the heart of Milan’s attacking play and should have had a fine assist to his name in the 19th minute when he sent Ante Rebic through on goal, only for the Croatia forward to put his finish too close to the onrushing Jan Oblak.
Diaz was involved again when the hosts took the lead a minute later through Leao, who following neat footwork in the box from his Spanish teammate arrowed a perfect low shot into the opposite corner of Oblak’s goal.
Milan looked comfortable against an underwhelming Atleti but Kessie handed their opponents a lifeline when having already been booked, arrived late into a challenge on Koke and was sent off.
Despite the man disadvantage Milan held their own and Leao came close to doubling their lead in the most spectacular of fashions, crashing a 38th-minute bicycle kick off the bar from the edge of the area before being flagged for the tightest of offsides.
However Atleti slowly began to force Milan back into their own area and Luis Suarez had two great chances to level the scores either side of the break, first volleying wide on the stroke of half-time and then heading Joao Felix’s pinpoint cross the wrong side off the upright in the 54th minute.
Milan held on resolutely and looked to be on their way to victory until Griezmann met Renan Lodi’s knock back with a beautifully-timed volley which left Mike Maignan with no chance.
The home fans carpeted the San Siro air with whistles, but with the clock ticking down Pierre Kalulu was judged to have handled in the area after a VAR check, and Suarez did the rest to earn Atletico a precious win
AJAX SITTING PRETTY AT THE TOP
Ivory Coast striker Sebastien Haller took his tally to 10 goals in as many games this season as Ajax beat Besiktas 2-0 to move top of group C in the Champions League.
Haller, who joined the Dutch league holders from West Ham in January, kneed home his effort just before the break after midfielder Steven Berghuis had opened the scoring at the Johan Cruyff Arena.
The 27-year-old’s efforts this term have helped Erik ten Hag’s side to the summit of the Eredivisie.
They are also three points clear of Borussia Dortmund in Europe, with the Germans hosting Sporting Lisbon later.
“We should have scored that third goal, it would have been much easier. Unfortunately that didn’t happen,” Ajax captain Dusan Tadic told broadcaster RTL7.
“The good thing was we kept a clean sheet,” he added.
Netherlands playmaker Berghuis opened the scoring, and claimed his second goal of the season, after 17 minutes as he made the most of some questionable Turkish marking in the box before firing home.
Haller’s contribution came two minutes before halftime as with an unorthodox finish from a swinging Berghuis cross.
INTER MILAN’S WINLESS START CONTINUES
Elsewhere, Serie A champions Inter Milan remain winless in Europe this season following the 0-0 draw at Shakhtar Donetsk.
Ukrainian Oleksandr Usyk was a spectator in Kiev days after beating Anthony Joshua on points to become just the third boxer after Evander Holyfield of the United States and Britain’s David Haye to win both the cruiserweight and heavyweight world titles.
The home team’s attacker Lassina Traore was stretchered off after 11 minutes following a collision with Netherlands winger Dumfries.
Burkina Faso international’s right leg and ankle were caught under Dumfries’ body before the 20-year-old was helped off the pitch with his hands covering his face. He was replaced by Tete.
The best of the first half chances fell to Nicolo Barella as the Inter midfielder hit the crossbar with a shot after a quarter of an hour.
Inter were inches away from the winner with three minutes left as Shakhtar goalkeeper and captain Andriy Pyatov tipped Joaquin Correa’s curling shot past the post.
“We wanted the three points, we went close to winning, we’re a bit disappointed by the result,” Inter defender Milan Skriniar told Sky Sport.
“It wasn’t easy, I am happy with how my teammates defended.”
Inter are third, with Shakhtar bottom before leaders Sheriff Tiraspol, making their maiden appearance in the tournament, play at 13-time winners Real Madrid.
Manchester United vs Crystal Palace, Cristiano Ronaldo pressing, Ralf Rangnick, reaction, Tottenham
Ralf Rangnick’s reign at Manchester United got off to a winning start thanks to a stunning strike from the much-maligned Fred to beat Crystal Palace 1-0 at Old Trafford on Monday.
A bright start from the Red Devils fizzled out without reward and the German looked like he might have to settle for a disappointing draw in his first match since taking charge until the end of the season.
But Fred, who had been a target for much of the criticism towards the end of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s time as manager, produced a moment of magic with a curling effort on his weaker right foot 13 minutes from time to snatch a crucial victory.
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“Overall I’m more than happy,” said Rangnick.
“I was positively surprised by the physical state and the intensity of the first half hour. The only thing that was missing was scoring one, two or even three goals.
“It was clear you cannot play the whole game in this kind of intensity level. In the end we deserved to win, I’m more than happy with the clean sheet and a beautiful goal.”
United move back to within three points of the top four and up to sixth in the Premier League table.
There were no immediate changes from Rangnick in the line-up as he named an unchanged side from Friday’s 3-2 win over Arsenal.
But there was an instant change in approach as United pressed Palace into coughing up possession deep inside their own half twice in the first five minutes.
Questions have been asked over how Cristiano Ronaldo will fit into Rangnick’s desire for an intense pressing game.
But the 36-year-old was paired with Marcus Rashford up front to bring extra dynamism to United’s forward line.
“It seemed illogical to change too many positions after the win against Arsenal,” added Rangnick.
“For me the question is how do we get pressure on the ball and how do we get control. I played 4-2-2 with two strikers, not just Cristiano (Ronaldo) on his own up front.”
Ronaldo benefited from the extra support and won praise from his new manager for his work off the ball.
“By the way, Cristiano Ronaldo’s work off the ball, chapeau,” Rangnick said.
However, there was a lack of precision to match United’s intensity.
The home side’s best chance of the first 45 minutes fell to Fred, but his goalbound effort was diverted behind by James Tomkins.
Fernandes finally tested Vicente Guaita from Ronaldo’s knockdown before Diogo Dalot fired wastefully over on his weaker left foot with the last kick of the first half.
United’s early enthusiasm to impress their new boss drained away as the second half performance more closely resembled the final days of Solskjaer’s reign.
Palace should have gone in front 15 minutes from time when Jordan Ayew somehow turned Tomkins’ header back across goal and beyond the far post.
Rangnick comes with a reputation of putting his faith in young players and showed that as he sacrificed Jadon Sancho and Marcus Rashford for Mason Greenwood and Anthony Elanga in search of a winner.
SPURS STORM TO CRUISING WIN
Spurs are one point ahead of United with a game in hand after cruising to a win against bottom side Norwich — their third straight victory in the Premier League.
Lucas Moura opened the scoring in the 10th minute.
After a nice piece of skill to round a Norwich defender, he played a one-two with Son Heung-min, turned his marker and thundered an unstoppable drive into the top corner from 20 yards.
Tottenham doubled their lead midway through the second half when Davinson Sanchez smashed home a loose ball from a corner and Son made it 3-0 in the 77th minute.
Conte took over from the sacked Nuno Espirito Santo early last month with Spurs languishing in mid-table after a poor run of results and is starting to make an impact.
“I know for Tottenham it will be a season of work, hard work,” said the former Chelsea boss.
“Only through the work can we improve and to have ambition to improve our position.
“I have just started. We have to build a solid base and a good foundation if we want to try to be competitive in the future and fight for something important.”
New Aston Villa boss Steven Gerrard got the better of his former manager at Liverpool, Brendan Rodgers, in a 2-1 win at home, his third victory in his first four matches.
Harvey Barnes gave Leicester an early lead but Ezri Konsa struck twice, once in each half, to secure the three points for Villa, who moved into 10th in the table, ahead of Leicester on goal difference.
Brentford were denied a win at Elland Road as Patrick Bamford scored deep into stoppage time to rescue a point for his side in a 2-2 draw.
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