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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

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

AC Milan 0 – 2 Chelsea

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AC Milan 0 - 2 Chelsea

Chelsea enjoyed a comfortable victory at AC Milan after former Blues defender Fikayo Tomori received an early red card.

Tomori was sent off for pulling back Mason Mount in the area, with Jorginho converting the penalty.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang doubled the lead with a confident strike against his former club.

But Chelsea and England suffered a blow in the second half when right-back Reece James limped off.

The win continues Graham Potter’s unbeaten start as Chelsea manager, with four wins in his first five games.

It moves Chelsea top of Group E with seven points from four matches, but it remains extremely tight with Red Bull Salzburg on six points and both Milan and Dinamo Zagreb on four.

Tomori has not enjoyed his reunion with his boyhood club over the past couple of games – after Milan was beaten comprehensively at Stamford Bridge last week, the Chelsea youth product lasted just 18 minutes of Tuesday’s game at the San Siro.

What looked like being a tight game was blown open when Tomori put his arm on the shoulder of England team-mate Mount, putting the midfielder off balance enough to send him tumbling to the floor.

Referee Daniel Siebert, who was central to the drama throughout to the ire of the home support, deemed it enough contact to be a penalty and that Tomori had not attempted to play the ball, thus overriding the double jeopardy rule and causing him to show the red card.

The decision was debated long and hard by Tomori and Milan’s players, but eventually, he had to leave the field and after a lengthy delay Jorginho calmly slotted the penalty away.

Mount was excellent for the first 45 minutes before being substituted for Conor Gallagher at half-time, having picked up a booking for arguing with Olivier Giroud in the aftermath of the penalty.

Potter decided to remove Mount from the firing line of both the irate home fans and the card-happy Siebert – but not before the England midfielder caused Milan endless problems and showed why he is so admired by his managers for club and country.

While his form is a boost for Gareth Southgate, the sight of James hobbling off minutes after jarring his knee in the turf while making a challenge is worrying, with the World Cup less than six weeks away.

Having been so well stocked at right-back previously, Southgate is now sweating on the fitness of James as well as Kyle Walker and Trent Alexander-Arnold, who have all suffered injuries in recent weeks.

Only two players have started all five of Potter’s games in charge of Chelsea so far – goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga and Mount.

The latter was central to the second goal too. He was played the ball on the edge of the Milan area by Jorginho, and cleverly laid it off the first time. Both Raheem Sterling and Aubameyang were running on, and the former smartly moved out of the way for the latter to plant the ball beyond Ciprian Tatarusanu at his near post.

From then on it was fairly straightforward for Chelsea to earn only their second competitive win on Italian soil from 15 attempts, the last being a 4-0 victory for Claudio Ranieri’s side at Roberto Mancini’s Lazio in November 2003.

They came the closer of the two sides to scoring in the second half, with Gallagher hitting the side-netting after rounding Tatarusanu.

It is a fourth successive win for Potter, with Chelsea continuing an impressive turnaround by rising to the top of Group E after four games, having been bottom after matchday two.

source – BBC Sport

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