World Cup


Champions League roundup: Benfica top group ahead of PSG

Benfica put six goals past Maccabi Haifa to claim the top spot in Group H ahead of PSG, as Real Madrid thrash Celtic.

Mbappe Champions League
Kylian Mbappe in action with Juventus' Manuel Locatelli and Frederico Gatti [Massimo Pinca/Reuters]

Benfica have recorded their best-ever group stage campaign with a 6-1 away win over Israeli side Maccabi Haifa.

There was a brief period of optimism for the hosts Maccabi Haifa in the first half when Tjaronn Chery equalised from the spot after Benfica’s Gonçalo Ramos had opened the scoring with a close-range header.

But the Portuguese side seized control of the contest in the second half, putting five goals past Maccabi Haifa’s hapless defence and American goalkeeper Josh Cohen.

The pick of the goals was an Álex Grimaldo free-kick, which curled around the wall and into the bottom corner.

João Mário’s injury-time goal secured the top spot in the group.

In the other Group H game, PSG edged past Juventus, who were already out of the Champions League.

Kylian Mbappé opened the scoring in the 13th minute with an exquisite strike. Latching onto a pass from Leo Messi, the Frenchman danced past two Juventus players before curling a shot from outside the area across the goalkeeper into the bottom corner.

Juventus responded and soon began to pose a greater threat, as Manuel Locatelli came close with a couple of shots. In the 38th minute, the Italian midfielder found Juan Cuadrado who headed the ball across the goal for Leonardo Bonucci to poke in.

Nuno Mendes scored the winner in the 69th minute with a fine run and drilled a shot across the keeper. Locatelli would have a goal disallowed goal a few minutes later, ending what has been a lacklustre Champions League campaign for the Italian side.

Rico Lewis scores, Dortmund join Man City in last 16

Man City remain undefeated as they eased past Sevilla in Manchester to top group G.

Rafa Mir opened the scoring for the visitors with a powerful header from a corner.

In the second half, academy graduate Rico Lewis grabbed his first goal for City and became the youngest player in Champions League history to score on his first start in the tournament. Aged 17 and 346 days, he beat the previous record set by Karim Benzema, who scored for Lyon at age 17 and 352 days in 2005.

Lewis was visibly overjoyed by the moment, cupping his hands over his mouth as he celebrated.

Rico Lewis
Manchester City’s Rico Lewis celebrates scoring their first goal [Carl Recine/Reuters]

In the 73rd minute, Kevin de Bruyne curled an inch-perfect through ball to Julián Álvarez, who calmly rounded Moroccan international Yassine Bounou to make it 2-1.

Riyad Mahrez made it 3-1 with an elegant strike after capitalising on a defensive error to cap off a fine evening for Man City.

Borussia Dortmund secured their place in the last 16 with an unconvincing display in a 1-1 draw away at FC Copenhagen.

In the 23rd minute, Thorgan Hazard lifted the ball in the air, allowing it to hang for a moment before stroking it into the goal on the half-volley. Later in the first half, Hákon Haraldsson equalised, heading home from close range.

The result left FC Copenhagen bottom of the group with no wins in this season’s Champions League campaign.

Los Blancos thrash Celtic

Real Madrid topped their group in emphatic style, thrashing Celtic, who finish the group stage with only 2 points.

The Spanish champions, who lost their previous Champions League match against RB Leipzig, were in imperious form as they secured a 5-1 victory at the Bernabeu last night.

The hosts converted two penalties in the first half before Croatian right-back Josip Juranovic missed a penalty for Celtic.

Los Blancos were dominant in the second half, scoring another three goals before Celtic’s Jota scored a delightful free kick as a consolation.

In Group F’s other game, RB Leipzig saw off Shakhtar Donetsk with a convincing 0-4 win. The match was played in Poland due to the ongoing war in Ukraine.

The result leaves RB Leipzig second behind group winners Real Madrid while Shakhtar Donetsk drop to the Europa League.

AC Milan reach the round of 16 for the first time since 2014

AC Milan secured the second spot in Group E after beating RB Salzburg 4-0 at the San Siro.

Olivier Giroud grabbed a brace and was unlucky to have another goal chalked off for a marginal offside.

Rafael Leão was also impressive on the night, circumnavigating the entire penalty area before sending in a perfectly weighted cross for Giroud to score Milan’s third.

Chelsea topped the group with an important win over Dinamo Zagreb, who finish bottom.

Bruno Petković headed in an early goal before Raheem Sterling equalised, ending his two-month goal drought. Sterling curled the ball past two players in the box after latching onto a pass from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

Swiss midfielder Denis Zakaria enjoyed a dream debut for Chelsea, sidefooting in a shot with half an hour gone after Mason Mount had squared him the ball.

Source: Al Jazeera