Champions League Roundup: Real Madrid advances, PSG beats Juventus

Champions League Roundup: Real Madrid advances, PSG beats Juventus

MADRID (AP) — Real Madrid converted two penalty kicks and saw goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois save another — all in the first half — as it comfortably defeated Celtic 5-1 to secure first place in its Champions League group on Wednesday.

The result left Carlo Ancelotti as the coach with most Champions League victories with 103, one more than Alex Ferguson. The Italian already was the coach with most titles in the European competition, with four.

Luka Modric converted a penalty in the sixth minute and Rodrygo another in the 21st, then Thibaut stopped one taken by Josip Juranovic in the 35th to leave Madrid in control at the Santiago Bernabéu Stadium.

Marco Asensio, with a shot from near the penalty spot after a pass by Dani Carvajal, added to the lead in the 51st. Vinícius Júnior then netted the fourth after a cross by Federico Valverde in the 61st, and Valverde himself closed the scoring for the hosts with a shot from outside the area in the 71st.

“We were focused from the start,” Ancelotti said. “We controlled the match and never slowed our pace. We were effective and scored many goals. It was all perfect.”

Jota put Celtic on the board with a well-struck free kick that curled over the Madrid wall in the 84th.

Both Madrid penalties came after handballs inside the area, while Celtic’s came after a foul by Madrid defender Ferland Mendy.

With his goal from the spot, the 37-year-old Modric became the oldest player to convert a penalty in the Champions League, surpassing Lille’s Burak Yilmaz’s mark as a 36-year-old from earlier this year. It was Modric’s ninth goal in 111th Champions League appearances.

“We took advantage of our chances and scored the goals that we had to score,” Valverde said. “It was a good effort by the entire team. We had been doing well but sometimes things don’t go your way and everything becomes negative.”

Madrid was coming off a 3-2 loss at Leipzig in the previous round — its first defeat of the season in all competitions — and needed the home victory against last-place Celtic to get the group win and a theoretically easier opponent in the next stage. The group-winners will be drawn against the second-place finishers in the round of 16.

“Finishing first gives you a small advantage,” Ancelotti said. “It’s not a lot, but it allows you to play the return match at home, and that is helpful.”

Madrid finished Group F with 13 points, one more than Leipzig, which won 4-0 at Shakhtar Donetsk in the other group match on Wednesday. Shakhtar ended third with six points, securing a spot in the Europa League playoffs.

Celtic earned its two points from 1-1 draws against Shakhtar. Madrid’s other setback in addition to the loss at Leipzig also was a draw at Shakhtar.

“We will now reflect on this campaign but the football is there,” Celtic defender Carl Starfelt said. “Maybe we need to be more ruthless in both boxes.”

The victory on Wednesday ended a two-game winless streak for Madrid, which had been held by Girona at the Bernabéu in the Spanish league on Sunday.

Ballon d’Or winner Karim Benzema, who had missed three straight games because of muscle fatigue, came in as a substitute in the 63rd.

Celtic has never won in 21 competitive European games in Spain.

Benfica routs Haifa for its best group-stage campaign

HAIFA, Israel (AP) — Benfica achieved its best group-stage campaign in the Champions League by routing Maccabi Haifa 6-1 on Wednesday.

The result gave the Portuguese side 14 points from six matches, two points more than its previous best campaign achieved 11 years ago.

It also was enough to give Benfica first place in Group H ahead of Paris Saint-Germain, which won at Juventus but finished behind the Portuguese side on the number of away goals scored.

João Mário’s long-range low shot in stoppage time turned out to be crucial as Benfica and PSG were even on points and head-to-head, and were also tied on goals scored and conceded overall.

Benfica had already secured a spot in the next round in advance.

The victory over Haifa also extended Benfica’s unbeaten run to 22 straight matches this season.

Gonçalo Ramos put the visitors ahead with a header in the 20th, and Haifa equalized with Tjaronn Chery converting a penalty kick awarded following a lengthy video review for a handball by Benfica defender Alexander Bah inside the area.

Petar Musa put Benfica ahead with another header in the 59th, Alejandro Grimaldo added to the lead by converting a free kick 10 minutes later, Rafa Silva netted the fourth from inside the area in the 73rd, and Henrique Araújo added a fifth in the 88th.

Benfica had already beaten Haifa at home, and it also defeated Juventus twice while drawing both matches against PSG home and away.

Last-place Haifa, whose only group-stage win this season had come against Juventus at home, was coming off a 7-2 loss at PSG in the previous round.

Benfica’s last defeat on the road was exactly one year ago when it lost 5-2 to Bayern Munich. Its undefeated run on the road was its longest of any of this season’s 32 teams.

Benfica reached the quarterfinals of the Champions League last season, being eliminated by Liverpool.

Mbappé scores memorable goal as PSG wins at Juventus

TURIN, Italy (AP) — If Kylian Mbappé keeps this up, he might be unstoppable at the upcoming World Cup in Qatar.

Mbappé’s power and strength were on full display when he shook off a defender tugging desperately on his shirt to score a memorable goal in the Champions League on Wednesday.

Mbappé also set up another goal as Paris Saint-Germain won 2-1 at already eliminated Juventus, which claimed a Europa League spot.

But PSG had to settle for second place in Group H since Benfica moved ahead on away goals with a 6-1 rout at Maccabi Haifa.

Benfica and PSG each finished with 14 points while Juventus and Maccabi trailed with three each — with Juventus ahead on goal difference.

Early in the first half, inexperienced Juventus defender Federico Gatti did all he could to hold Mbappé back but the France forward seemed unperturbed and quickly cut inside past Manuel Locatelli before unleashing a powerful shot past three more defenders that ricocheted in off the post.

It was Mbappé’s seventh goal in the six-game group stage and 40th in 59 career Champions League matches. At age 23, he eclipsed teammate Lionel Messi to become the youngest to score 40 goals in Europe’s top club competition.

Mbappé already scored four goals when he helped France win the last World Cup in 2018. If France makes another run in this year’s tournament, which starts Nov. 20, he could score even more.

Juventus captain Leonardo Bonucci equalized before the break from close range by redirecting in a header from Juan Cuadrado for his first Champions League goal in six years.

Midway through the second half, Mbappé slotted a perfectly placed pass to set up substitute Nuno Mendes for the winner on a counterattack.

With the club missing 11 players due to injury, Juventus fans cheered loudly when key winger Federico Chiesa came on in the second half to mark his return from a long-term injury layoff.

Juventus then had a potential goal from Locatelli waved off for offside.

It was a forgettable campaign for Juventus, which lost five of its six matches and missed out on the knockout phase for the first time since 2013-14.

Sterling ends goal drought, Chelsea beats Dinamo Zagreb

LONDON (AP) — Raheem Sterling ended his goal drought that was approaching two months to help Chelsea wrap up its group-stage campaign in the Champions League with a 2-1 win over Dinamo Zagreb, whose involvement in European competition ended Wednesday.

The England forward has played in a number of positions — even at wing back — under recently hired manager Graham Potter, but was restored to his favored wing role against Dinamo and equalized in the 18th minute with a well-taken finish.

That canceled out Bruno Petkovic’s seventh-minute opener for the visitors from Croatia, and Chelsea completed its recovery when Denis Zakaria — making his debut two months after joining on loan from Juventus — scored what proved to be the winning goal in the 30th after good work by Mason Mount.

Chelsea was already sure of advancing as Group E winner and finished three points ahead of AC Milan, which joined the English club in the last 16 thanks to a 4-0 victory over Salzburg on Wednesday.

Dinamo needed to win to stand a chance of a third-place finish to drop into a qualifying playoff for the Europa League. Instead, the team ended in last place on four points from its six games — its only victory in the group stage coming against Chelsea at home on the opening matchday.

Sterling hadn’t scored in any competition since Sept. 14, against Salzburg in the Champions League — a run of nine games for club and country. He took his goal well, collecting a backheel pass from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang inside the area, cutting inside a defender and slotting a finish into the bottom corner.

Even with his poor form in front of goal, Sterling is guaranteed to be in the England squad for the World Cup.

The same cannot be said for left back Ben Chilwell, who pulled up with a left hamstring injury near the end of the match and was clearly distressed as he lay on the ground. He was helped back into the locker room by two people and looks a major doubt to make England’s World Cup squad that is being announced next week.

Chilwell was likely to be the backup left back for Luke Shaw.

Giroud helps Milan return to last 16 for first time in nine years

MILAN (AP) — Olivier Giroud has a knack of delivering in big games.

He did it again on Wednesday with two goals and two assists as AC Milan beat Salzburg 4-0 to return to the Champions League knockout stages for the first time in nine years.

Giroud opened the scoring in the 14th minute and then all but sealed Milan’s progression in the 57th after he had set up Rade Krunić for his first Champions League goal in the opening minute of the second half. Junior Messias capped a wonderful night for the Italian champion.

It was the 36-year-old Giroud’s goals in crucial matches last season that helped Milan end its 11-year wait for the Serie A title.

Throughout his career, Giroud has earned a reputation for coming up with the goods in important moments. His crucial goals late in the 2019-20 season spurred Chelsea to qualify for the Champions League, and his six goals in the competition helped the London club win the European title for the second time.

Milan finished second in Group E. Salzburg placed third, securing a spot in the Europa League playoffs after Dinamo Zagreb lost 2-1 at Chelsea.

Milan needed at least a point from its final group match to advance while only a win would do for Salzburg and it was an aggressive start from both sides.

The hosts almost got off to the perfect start but Theo Hernández’s angled drive came off the base of the right post with less than three minutes on the clock.

Salzburg also went close to an early opener but Milan defender Fikayo Tomori did brilliantly to race across the area and fling himself at Maurits Kjaergaard’s shot like a human shield.

Moments later, Milan did break the deadlock when Sandro Tonali whipped in a corner from the left for Giroud to rise almost unchallenged and head into the far bottom corner.

Salzburg almost leveled immediately but Junior Adamu’s swiveling effort from close range was straight into the arms of Milan goalkeeper Ciprian Tătărușanu.

Giroud thought he had doubled his tally in the 26th when he tapped in a rebound after Philipp Köhn had spilled Hernández’s shot but it was ruled out for offside.

Salzburg had appeared dangerous before the break but Milan all but killed it off immediately after the restart. Ante Rebić floated in a cross from the right and Giroud nodded it back into the middle for Krunić to head into the top left corner.

Salzburg then gifted Milan a third as two of its players got into a tangle when going for a ball from Rafael Leão right in front of goal, allowing Giroud to fire in his second of the night.

Leão also hit the crossbar before substitute Junior Messias scored a delightful goal in stoppage time after being picked out on the right by Giroud.

Leipzig ends Shakhtar’s Champions League run, Werner hurt

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Ukrainian team Shakhtar Donetsk’s Champions League campaign ended in a 4-0 loss on Wednesday to Leipzig, whose striker Timo Werner came off hurt ahead of the World Cup.

Shakhtar had overcome a series of formidable obstacles just to play in European competitions this season and would have reached the knockout stage with a win.

Leipzig advanced by finishing second in Group F behind Real Madrid, which beat Celtic 5-1, while Shakhtar continues its season in the Europa League.

The Ukrainian champion saw key foreign players leave after Russia invaded Ukraine, along with coach Roberto de Zerbi, and had to host its Champions League opponents in neighbouring Poland. Its Ukrainian league game against Oleksandriya last week was interrupted by an air-raid alert.

Unlike in Shakhtar’s stunning opening 4-1 win at Leipzig in September, which led Leipzig to fire then-coach Domenico Tedesco, Leipzig was ready for the Ukrainian team’s hustling counterattacking style, and the skills of promising 21-year-old winger Mykhailo Mudryk.

A draw would have been enough for Leipzig to advance, but the German team wasted little time in chasing the win. Christopher Nkunku opened the scoring in the 10th on the rebound after goalkeeper Anatoliy Trubin parried Werner’s shot.

André Silva doubled the lead soon after the break when he bundled in the ball at the far post off Mohamed Simakan’s header. Dominik Szoboszlai scored on the counterattack soon after and Dani Olmo curled in Leipzig’s fourth in the first Leipzig attack since he came off the bench.

Werner, a Germany forward, was substituted in the 19th minute after signaling to the bench in apparent pain after he played a pass. Germany’s opening game of the World Cup is against Japan on Nov. 23. Coach Marco Rose said Werner had been in pain but the team doctor had indicated that nothing serious appeared to be wrong, though he needed to undergo more detailed examinations, in comments reported by German agency dpa.

Leipzig condemned intrusive treatment of its fans during searches at the stadium, including cases where the club said a flashlight was shone into supporters’ underwear. Security personnel and Polish police were both involved in the checks and “in particular, the police checks were disproportionate,” the club said in a statement.

Several fans had scarves confiscated during security checks and two people were taken into custody, Leipzig said, adding it was in contact with the German embassy in Poland.

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