Kylian Mbappé and Erling Haaland scored top-flight goals in Europe’s Champions League return on Tuesday, while last season’s star Karim Benzema limped off with an injury after less than 30 minutes.
Mbappé and Haaland both scored twice as their respective clubs Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester City began their European campaigns with victories, showing why these two teams are again favorites for the title.
Real Madrid’s chances of defending their crown depend largely on having a fully fit Benzema, but the France forward had to go off with an apparent knee injury in the 30th minute against Celtic. Second-half goals from Vincenzo Jr., Luka Modric and Eden Hazard still sealed a 3-0 win for the Spanish giants in Glasgow.
Benzema was in a league of his own last season, scoring 15 goals in 12 games to lead Madrid to the title. But Mbappé and Haaland look ready to challenge the Frenchman for Europe’s best striker status as they try to lead their clubs to a first Champions League title.
Mbappé, 23, who has scored seven goals in five league games so far, scored twice in the opening 22 minutes of a 2-1 home win over Juventus to take his tally to 35 goals in the competition. Became the youngest player. The mark is held by teammate Lionel Messi.
Haaland, 22, made it 25 goals in 20 Champions League games – a record – after scoring once in each half of Man City’s 4-0 win at Sevilla. The Norwegian striker, who has 10 goals in six Premier League games this season, has now made his Champions League debut for three clubs – Salzburg, Borussia Dortmund and City.
Also, Dinamo Zagreb beat Chelsea 1-0 at home while Serie A champions AC Milan were held to a 1-1 draw in Salzburg.
MBAPPÉ drowns Joe
Mbappe’s opening goal for PSG came just five minutes later after some daring link-up play by Neymar.
Mbappé made a short pass to the Brazilian before running into the area, Neymar was on the ball before chipping away at a defender and into the path of the French striker, who first timed it past the goalkeeper. Mathias Perrin led the way. .
The second came after he exchanged passes with Achar Hakimi and Perrin beat him for the first time. United midfielder Weston McKinney pulled one back for Juventus in the 53rd, setting up a tense finale in Paris.
In the other group match, Benfica beat Maccabi Haifa 2-0.
Chelsea are struggling
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang could not provide any immediate spark to Chelsea’s speedy attack as the Blues failed to impress once again after a poor start to the season.
Aubameyang started for Chelsea following his move from Barcelona, played with a face mask to protect his injured jaw, and had a goal disallowed for offside while his teammates repeatedly Goalkeeper Dominik Levakovic failed to score.
Instead it was Mislav Oršić who continued his scoring streak against English teams, turning away from Wesley Fofana – another marquee Chelsea signing – to score on the break in the 13th minute.
“It’s a poor performance from us,” said Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel, whose side have already lost twice in the Premier League. “We’re obviously not where we need to be. … Everything is missing at the moment.”
Noah Okafor put Salzburg ahead against Milan near the half-hour mark with a shot through the legs of goalkeeper Mike Magnan, but Alexis Selmaekers equalized before the break.
Rafael Luo then almost won for Milan in stoppage time when he had a shot wide of the post.
United States international Sergio Aguero made his Milan debut in the 57th minute following his transfer from Barcelona last week, one of six Americans in action on the night.
The role of the city in Spain
Haaland may be the piece that Man City have been missing as it has repeatedly come up short in Europe under Pep Guardiola.
The Norwegian once again showed his uncanny ability to be in the right place at the right time as he got a hand to meet Kevin De Bruyne’s cross in the 21st minute and then scored in the 67th minute. Tapped in the rebound for the third goal. Phil Foden and Ruben Dias scored the other goals for City in a dominant performance at the Estadio Ramón Sánchez-Pizjuan.
Also in Group G, Marco Reus took his tally to 22 in 57 Champions League matches by opening the scoring in Borussia Dortmund’s 3-0 win over Copenhagen. United States international Jio Reyna set up the other two goals for Dortmund, exchanging passes with English youngster Jude Bellingham in a swift move for the third.
Risk takes steps
If Benzema were to miss significant time for Madrid, Hazard indicated he might be willing to pick up the slack.
The Belgian playmaker – who was on the bench before replacing Benzema – scored the first two goals before netting the third himself against Celtic. It was his first Champions League goal in 651 days and his first in any competition since January.
Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti was hopeful that Benzema would return soon.
“It doesn’t seem that serious,” Anslutti said of the attacker’s injury.
Callum McGregor hit a hard shot against the post in the 21st minute after Celtic had gone close in the first half.
In another Group F match, Marian Shevd scored twice as Ukrainian club Shakhtar Donetsk beat RB Leipzig 4-1. Shakhtar’s domestic season recently started after a long hiatus due to the Russian attack, but the team got some help from Leipzig’s goalkeeper Petr Galaxi for the first goal.
The Galaxy made up for the mistake of the evening by giving the ball to Shewood as he stood well outside his own area, finishing simple into the midfielder’s empty net.
Leipzig equalized in the 57th minute by French defender Mohamed Samakan, but a minute later, Shaved managed to score.