COVID-hit Bayern Munich win at Kyiv


Bayern Munich, missing half a dozen players to COVID-19 quarantine, edged past Dynamo Kyiv 2-1 on Tuesday to secure the top spot in Champions League Group E with a game to spare.

First-half goals from striker Robert Lewandowski, who struck with a spectacular 14th-minute overhead kick, and Kingsley Coman three minutes from halftime and amid heavy snowfall – put the German champions in front.

Dynamo, who are now eliminated from the competition, cut the deficit with their maiden group-stage goal through Denys Garmash in the 70th minute.

They then forced Bayern keeper Manuel Neuer to make a fine save in the 75th and hit the post in stoppage time as they looked for an equalizer with a strong finish.

The Bavarians, desperate to bounce back from Friday’s shock 2-1 loss to Augsburg in the Bundesliga, top the group on 15 points with five wins from five games. They are also unbeaten in a record-extending 21 consecutive Champions League away games.

Barcelona, who face Benfica later, are in second place on six points and the Portuguese side are third on four, with Dynamo bottom on one point.

“It was maybe not our best performance but overall we are satisfied with the Champions League so far with five wins for five games and 15 points,” Neuer said.

“It was important to focus on the task today and put all the other issues aside,” he added, “referring to an ongoing debate over the vaccination of players.”

“But that is not that easy when you have a different squad with players who would normally not start.”

Bayern coach Julian Nagelsmann’s options were extremely limited with only four outfield players on the bench but Lewandowski, who has now scored in each of his last nine Champions League appearances, struck with the first chance of the game.

A cross into the box bounced awkwardly off a Dynamo defender and the Polish striker connected with an acrobatic bicycle kick.

The hosts almost scored an equalizer when Neuer attempted to clear a ball in the box but miskicked, sending it bouncing onto the post and wide.

Instead, Coman doubled their lead three minutes before halftime, drilling in from a Corentin Tolisso cross that Lewandowski let slip through his legs.

Neuer made amends for his earlier mistake with a double save to stop Mykola Shaparenko two minutes after the restart to protect their two-goal lead, but he was beaten when Garmash slotted the ball through the keeper’s legs for 2-1.

Dynamo were the stronger side in the closing minutes and kept Neuer busy before Viktor Tsygankov struck the post with a long-range effort in stoppage time.

Cristiano Ronaldo scores, Manchester United win

Cristiano Ronaldo and Jadon Sancho sent Manchester United into the Champions League round of 16 as Michael Carrick’s interim tenure started with a 2-0 win over Villarreal at La Ceramica on Tuesday.

Portugal captain Ronaldo has scored in each of United’s five Champions League matches so far – and netted either a late winner or equaliser in the last four in Group F.

Carrick made four changes from the 4-1 humbling at Watford on Saturday, which sealed former manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s fate, with Alex Telles, Donny van de Beek, Fred and Anthony Martial starting, while Bruno Fernandes and Marcus Rashford were surprisingly left on the bench.

There was a lengthy delay to kick-off due to a communication issue for the match officials and there were audible boos from the crowd as the visiting players took a knee.

It was a fairly even first half with neither side creating clear-cut chances before United goalkeeper David de Gea produced a stunning save as he clawed Manu Trigueros’ effort over the bar on 59 minutes.

With Villarreal starting to take control in the match, Carrick sent on Fernandes and Rashford on 66 minutes and the substitutions produced a complete change in momentum as United began to grow in the game.

With the game petering out to a draw, Ronaldo capitalised on a defensive mix-up after Fred had tackled Etienne Capoue to lob the ball over Geronimo Rulli.

Having come close to scoring earlier, Sancho finally did score his first for United as he rifled in a shot after a counterattack involving Rashford and Fernandes.

“It’s not been an easy couple of days for anyone at the club and that result almost feels like it’s for Ole,” Carrick said after the match.

“We had a job to do and things needed to be taken care of. I was happy to do it and thankfully it all went to plan.”

“When you’ve suffered results-wise and aren’t in good form, individually and as a team, it’s not easy to come out and let everything click – we had to show some character and fight.”

After shipping four or more goals three times in their last seven matches, Carrick will have been delighted with how solid United’s defence looked as they claimed their first clean sheet of this Champions League campaign.

This was also United’s first away win in the Champions League since they beat Paris Saint-Germain at the Parc des Princes in October 2020.

Chelsea blast Juventus

Chelsea claimed a thumping 4-0 victory over Juventus thanks to goals from home-grown trio Trevoh Chalobah, Reece James and Callum Hudson-Odoi and a fourth by Timo Werner to top Champions League Group H and cruise into the knockout stage.

European champions Chelsea took control from the outset and never relaxed as they booked their place in the last 16.

Defender Chalobah, 22, smacked the ball into the net past the flailing arms of Wojciech Szczesny in the 25th minute after centre back Toni Rudiger set him up from an Hakim Ziyech corner.

A VAR check dismissed calls for handball against Rudiger when replays showed the ball hit his hand in front of his chest.

James, 21, showed superb technique to angle a shot into the left-hand corner of the goal in the 55th and barely three minutes later 21-year-old Hudson-Odoi scored from a layoff by another Academy graduate Ruben Loftus-Cheek.

Juventus had already qualified for the knockout stage but the result dropped them to second place in the group, level with Chelsea on 12 points, with one round of fixtures to play.

Chelsea coach Thomas Tuchel was full of praise for his young scorers.

“It’s their biggest dream to perform at Stamford Bridge, to perform in blue, to be part of a strong Chelsea team,” the German said.

“I strongly believe this is a huge part of the success that we have this mix.”

Werner put the icing on the cake before the final whistle by sending the ball home from a Ziyech cross.

Chelsea, beaten 1-0 in Turin in September, made the Italians look ordinary, running them ragged with intricate passing movements and producing 20 shots on goal to Juve’s eight.

Former Chelsea striker Alvaro Morata had the visitors’ best chance when he chipped the ball over advancing Chelsea keeper Edouard Mendy in the 28th minute, but 37-year-old defender Thiago Silva raced back to superbly hook the ball off the line.

Mendy pulled off a save of his own late in the second half, tipping the ball over the bar from a Weston McKennie shot.

Szczesny saved Juventus from utter humiliation with a series of fine stops, pushing the ball round the post from efforts by Hudson-Odoi and James as well as keeping out Ziyech and Ben Chilwell.

The one downside for the hosts was an injury to wing-back Chilwell, who appeared to twist his knee and was helped off the pitch.

Jordan sinks Wolfsburg

Joan Jordan scored an early goal as Sevilla beat Wolfsburg 2-0 in their Champions League clash at the Estadio Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan on Tuesday, a result that means all four sides in Group G remain in contention for the knockout round.

Substitute Rafa Mir added a second goal deep into injury-time as Sevilla secured a first victory in the group phase this season and it was just about deserved in a match of few clear-cut chances, with Wolfsburg, in particular, offering little in attack.

Lille lead the table with one round to play having amassed eight points from their five games, ahead of RB Salzburg (seven points), Sevilla (six) and Wolfsburg (five).

Sevilla travel to Salzburg for their final game on Dec. 8, while Wolfsburg host Lille at the same time.

The home side’s bright start was rewarded with a goal as Jordan stooped to head in an inviting cross from Ivan Rakitic after 13 minutes for his first Champions League strike.

Wolfsburg went close to an equaliser midway through the first half when Lukas Nmecha’s shot was palmed onto the crossbar by home goalkeeper Yassine Bounou, but the latter barely had a save to make after that.

Mir had a simple finish from six yards to add a second for the hosts, who inflicted a first defeat on new Wolfsburg coach Florian Kohfeldt. He replaced Mark van Bommel last month and won his first three games in charge before drawing at the weekend.

Lille move top

Jonathan David netted the only goal as Lille brushed aside their dismal domestic form to beat RB Salzburg 1-0 at home on Tuesday and take control of their Champions League group.

The French champions are without a win in five Ligue 1 games but took the lead in the 31st minute when prolific Canadian striker David finished from close range after a mazy dribble from strike partner Burak Yilmaz.

David is the top scorer in Ligue 1 with 10 goals and struck for the second Champions League game in a row after bagging a penalty in a 2-1 win at Sevilla earlier this month.

Lille top a tightly-poised Group G with eight points after five games while Salzburg are second with seven, Sevilla are third on six and Wolfsburg bottom with five.

Atalanta grab a last-gasp draw

Atalanta’s Luis Muriel came off the bench to equalise two minutes from time and snatch a 3-3 draw at Young Boys Berne in a frenetic finish to their Champions League clash on Tuesday.

The Italians had been 2-1 up with 10 minutes remaining and looking to move into second place in Group F before the Swiss rallied with two goals in a four-minute spell to go ahead.

But Muriel’s 88th-minute strike kept Atalanta in the race for a top-two finish and a knockout stage berth – effectively needing to beat Villarreal in their last group game on Dec. 8.

Manchester United lead the group with 10 points, three ahead of Villarreal with Atalanta on six and Young Boys on four.

Atalanta had taken an early lead as Duvan Zapata kept up his goalscoring form, being allowed by the home defence to turn and shoot from close range in the 10th minute.

But Young Boys, who are now out of the Champions League reckoning, fought back to equalise with a 39th-minute header from the imposing American international Jordan Pefok.

Atalanta’s defender Jose Luis Palomino then hammered home a left-footed shot from the edge of the penalty area six minutes into the second half to restore their lead only for the Italian club to implode as the game entered the final 10 minutes.

First substitute Vincent Sierro and then fullback Silvan Hefti scored as Young Boys were suddenly catapulted back into contention before being condemned back to last place in the group standings by Muriel’s late equalizer.

Zenit qualify for Europa League

A last-gasp penalty by Yaroslav Rakitskiy earned 10-man Zenit St Petersburg a 1-1 draw at Malmo FF in their Champions League Group H clash on Tuesday, ensuring that the Russians will play in the Europa League in the New Year.

Danish midfielder Soren Rieks netted Malmo’s first goal of the group stage in the 28th minute, combining well with Veljko Birmancevic before firing a shot low to the keeper’s left to give his side the lead.

Zenit missed a gilt-edged chance to equalise from the penalty spot early in the second half, and the visitors also had Dmitri Chistyakov sent off for a second yellow card in the 86th minute.

The drama was not over though and Rieks was adjudged to have fouled Artem Dzubya in the box in second-half stoppage time, with Rakitskiy making no mistake from the spot.

The result ensured Zenit, who have four points, cannot finish lower than third in the group behind Chelsea and Juventus, who both have 12 points. Malmo have one point but lost away to Zenit and have a much poorer goal difference.

Barcelona are in danger

Barcelona’s hopes of advancing from Group E of the 2021/22 Champions League are on thin ice after a 0-0 draw with Benfica on Tuesday night at the Camp Nou. While the Catalans are still second place in the group and two points ahead of the Portuguese club, Barcelona must now travel to Munich to face nemesis Bayern on the final matchday, while Benfica will take on Dynamo Kyiv.

Xavi went with a starting XI that saw Yusuf Demir start up top in attack, while Clement Lenglet was given the nod at centre-back with Gerard Pique.

Barcelona started strong and had a trio of chances in the first half-hour, including efforts from both Demir and Jordi Alba that were saved by Odisseas.

Barcelona goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen also had to be on his toes to deny Roman Yaremchuk later in the half, followed by a stinging effort from Demir that rang off the crossbar.

The rain only got heavier as play drifted into the second half, in which Memphis Depay had the first opportunity of the second stanza to break the deadlock, but was cut off by Benfica defender Nicolas Otamendi.

Ousmane Dembele was brought on for Demir to spark the attack midway through the second half and nearly crafted a goal with a cross that floated to Frenkie de Jong, who spun a header that was tipped over the crossbar by Odisseas.

Moments after a Ronald Araujo volley was annulled due to offside, Sergino Dest and Eric Garcia were brought on for Lenglet and Araujo, as Barcelona made one final push for a goal.

A Dembele effort had to be cleared off the goal line, while a stoppage-time Gerard Pique header sailed wide.

But, it was a Benfica break that should have yielded a goal, only for Haris Seferovic to fire wide with just Ter Stegen to beat.

In the end, Barcelona were left to rue their missed chances and grapple with what will be a difficult final matchday trip to Germany.


Courtesy: Reuters, ESPN, MARCA

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