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UEFA Champions League

Dinamo Zagreb 0 – 2 West Ham

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Dinamo Zagreb 0 - 2 West Ham

West Ham opened their Europa League Group H campaign with a comfortable win at Dinamo Zagreb.

Michail Antonio set the Hammers on their way with his fifth goal of the season, latching on to an under-hit backpass from Kevin Theophile-Catherine to round home goalkeeper Dominik Livakovic and slide the ball into an empty net.

It was no more than the visitors deserved after dominating the early stages against the Croatian champions.

Declan Rice sealed an exemplary away performance with a superb second on his 150th appearance for the club.

The England midfielder brilliantly won back possession and drove into the Dinamo area before dispatching a powerful left-foot shot through Livakovic’s legs.

Bar qualifiers, it ensured a first victory in Europe for West Ham since 1999 and vindicated manager David Moyes’ decision to introduce several players into his starting XI for the first time this season.

Kurt Zouma and Nikola Vlasic were both impressed on their full debuts for the club, while Ryan Fredericks, Manuel Lanzini and Issa Diop all appeared up to speed on their first starts of the season.

The Hammers are joined at the top of Group H by Genk, who scored a stoppage-time winner at Rapid Vienna.

A perfect night for West Ham and Moyes
As far as European away trips go few are likely to prove as straightforward as this for West Ham.

On paper, they appeared to have been handed a difficult opening assignment against last term’s quarter-finalists and conquerors of Tottenham.

However, the only disappointment was that the scoreline was not more emphatic.

Roared on by about 2,000 visiting fans inside at Stadion Maksimir, Moyes’ team pushed forward from the outset and the likes of Fredericks, Vlasic and Lanzini all failed to capitalise when presented with good opportunities to score.

Aside from the aggressive nature of West Ham’s pressing, Moyes will have also been delighted by the way his side nullified Dinamo’s threat.

Hammers goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski barely had a shot to save, with the only moment of alarm coming when a heavily deflected Luka Ivanusec effort clipped the outside of the right post before going wide.

In Other News – Real Betis 4 – 3 Celtic

Makeshift Celtic let a two-goal lead slip as they fell to defeat against Real Betis in a Europa League thriller.

Real Betis 4 - 3 Celtic

The visitors Рback in Seville 18 years on from Uefa Cup final defeat Рroared ahead with an Albian Ajeti finish and Josip Juranovic penalty, with Jota missing a golden chance for a third. learn more 

UEFA Champions League

Real Sociedad 0 – 1 Manchester United

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Real Sociedad 0 - 1 Manchester United

Teenager Alejandro Garnacho scored an outstanding goal as Manchester United ended Real Sociedad’s flawless Europa League record, but had to settle for second place in Group E.

Erik ten Hag’s side needed to win by two goals or more in Spain to win the group, and their spirits were lifted when Garnacho showed terrific pace before firing Cristiano Ronaldo’s pass into the corner of the net.

It was a wonderful moment for the 18-year-old Madrid-born winger, who was making his second start for the Red Devils.

Ronaldo missed a great chance to double the lead with a lob onto the roof of the net before David de Gea produced a fine double save to keep out Andoni Gorosabel and Pablo Marin.

United finished the group stage level on 15 points with Sociedad, who advanced to the last 16 with a superior goal difference.

The Red Devils will now play in next February’s knockout-round playoffs, where they will face one of the clubs dropping down from the Champions League.

Teams they could meet over two legs include Barcelona, Juventus, Ajax and Ukraine’s Shakhtar Donetsk.

The draw for the knockout round is on Monday.

Had United scored one more goal without conceding, they would have advanced as group winners and avoided two extra games in February.

They were in complete control in the first half but failed to manage a single shot on target in the second, and ended the match with substitute Harry Maguire up front alongside Ronaldo and Marcus Rashford.

On a wet night in the Basque Country, Garnacho became United’s youngest non-English scorer in Europe at the age of 18 years and 125 days.

Four weeks ago the Argentina youth international scored a late winner for United’s under-21 side in the EFL Trophy at Barrow.

In San Sebastian, Garnacho showed what a talent he is with a composed 17th-minute finish after receiving Ronaldo’s well-timed pass outside the penalty area before finishing inside the box.

It was the perfect start for Ten Hag’s side and the youngster was presented with another opportunity but slipped and fired over the bar.

Real Sociedad was missing several players because of injury, including four-time Premier League winner with Manchester City David Silva.

Yet they just about did enough to finish top of the group in a tetchy game that saw a flurry of yellow cards in the second half.

source – BBC Sport

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UEFA Champions League

Chelsea 2 – 1 Dinamo Zagreb

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Chelsea 2 - 1 Dinamo Zagreb

Denis Zakaria scored on his Chelsea debut as the Blues came from behind to round off their successful Champions League Group E campaign with victory against Dinamo Zagreb at Stamford Bridge.

The hosts had already wrapped up top spot with a game to spare but were looking to respond after they were stunned 4-1 in the Premier League by Brighton on Saturday.

They made the worst possible start as they fell behind in the sixth minute when the Blues defence reacted poorly to a cross and Bruno Petkovic was able to head in from close range.

Chelsea initially struggled to create much in response but a well-worked move brought them their equaliser as Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang backheeled the ball to Raheem Sterling inside the box and he kept his cool to slot in.

On-loan Juventus midfielder Zakaria then marked a dream debut as he drove in a low shot midway through the first half that squeezed over the line despite a defender’s attempt to clear.

Dinamo needed to win to finish third and go into the Europa League and Edouard Mendy made a good save to deny Bosko Sutalo’s point-blank header early in the second half.

Aubameyang came close to adding a third for Chelsea when he powered a shot against the crossbar and Conor Gallagher was denied late on, but ultimately Zakaria’s goal was enough to seal the win for the Blues.

With the World Cup in Qatar around the corner, this is a nervous time for many players hoping to feature at the tournament as they look to avoid any late injuries.

This came close to being the perfect night for Chelsea but there was late concern as, deep in stoppage time, full-back Ben Chilwell fell to the floor after clutching his hamstring.

Chilwell looked understandably frustrated once he was able to get to his feet, but he continued to hold the back of his leg before needing assistance from Chelsea’s medical staff to get off the pitch.

England’s World Cup opener is against Iran on 21 November and Chelsea and England will both be hopeful the issue is ultimately not as serious as it looked.

There was more positive news for Chelsea in the performance of Zakaria, who has had a strange start to his career at Stamford Bridge.

The defensive midfielder was signed on a season-long loan on transfer deadline day from Juventus by previous boss Thomas Tuchel, but he was overlooked for game time by the German and then his replacement Graham Potter.

However, the Switzerland international was a surprise inclusion in the starting line-up on Wednesday and he made the most of his chance.

On top of his goal, Zakaria was clearly determined to impress. He produced a busy performance and in the second half he made an excellent tackle to halt a Dinamo attack and immediately send Aubameyang away.

His display should ensure he will not have to endure another long wait to pull on a Chelsea shirt again.

source – BBC

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UEFA Champions League

Real Madrid 5 – 1 Celtic

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Real Madrid 5 - 1 Celtic

Celtic ended a frustrating Champions League campaign in grim fashion as Real Madrid handed out a rough lesson to claim victory and top Group F.

The Scottish champions were 2-0 down after 21 minutes as Luka Modric and Rodrygo converted penalties awarded for handball in a brutal opening.

Josip Juranovic then missed a spot-kick for Celtic, and that seemed a distant memory when Marco Asensio, Vinicius Junior, and Federico Valverde made it a rout for the defending champions, even though Jota netted a late free-kick.

Carlo Ancelotti’s side turned on the style in the second half against an increasingly tired and open Celtic, who finish bottom of the section with two points and no wins in their six matches.

Real, though, march on in their quest for a 15th European title having earned the win that guarantees top spot in the group.

With two points from five matches, Celtic knew not even a famous win would extend their stay in Europe, but their fans still travelled in hope, with far more than the official 1,848 allocations seemingly inside the Bernabeu.

The wind was taken out of their sails with just four minutes on the clock. In attempting to block Valverde’s tame shot, Moritz Jenz got himself in an awful twist and handled the ball. Modric showed his customary coolness to slot home.

The visitors responded well, fashioning decent openings for Kyogo Furuhashi and Reo Hatate, but neither could trouble Thibaut Courtois in the Real goal.

In fact, the trouble was about to deepen for the Celtic. Rodrygo’s strike struck the arm of Matt O’Riley and, although not quite as clear as the Jenz incident, the outcome was the same. This time Rodrygo converted the penalty.

Vinicius missed an absolute sitter just a minute later as Real threatened to run away with it in the opening half-hour.

Celtic had to get up the pitch and did so to great effect as Hatate robbed the ball to allow Daizan Maeda to put Kyogo through. However, Courtois stood tall and was also equal to Hatate’s piledriver from the edge of the box moments later.

Then a huge chance for Celtic. Liel Abada’s surge to the bye-line was checked by a foul by Ferland Mendy. It was the third penalty in a crazy first half, but Courtois foiled the Scottish champions again, diving to his right to push away Juranovic’s spot-kick.

Six minutes after the break, Real put the game beyond whatever little doubt still existed with their third goal. Dani Carvajal ghosted to the bye-line and his sliding cross teed-up Asensio to fire past Joe Hart.

Vinicius added another after stealing ahead of Carl Starfelt to flash in a teasing Valverde cross before Real summoned Ballon D’or winner Karim Benzema from the bench on his return from injury.

The Madridistas were enjoying themselves and Valverde added to that – and piled further pain on the visitors – when he curled a gorgeous effort beyond Hart and into the net.

The Celtic fans could be forgiven for begging for the final whistle, but Jota gave them something to cheer when he curled a wonderful free-kick past, Courtois.

It was a lovely moment for the Portuguese winger and gave the visiting supporters something to cheer, but it was no more than a consolation on a night when the gulf between the champions of Scotland and the champions of Europe was laid bare.

source – BBC

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