Champions League PIX: Haaland lifts City; Barca win

Haaland brace lifts Man City to 3-1 win over Young Boys

Erling Haaland ended his goal drought with a second-half brace while Manuel Akanji scored on his return to his homeland as reigning champions Manchester City all but secured their spot in the Champions League knockout stage with a 3-1 win over Swiss side Young Boys on Wednesday.

Pep Guardiola’s side maintained their 100% winning record in Group G with three victories, despite their pre-game concerns about playing on the slick artificial turf at rain-lashed Wankdorf Stadium.

“It was an exceptional game,” Guardiola told TNT Sports. I’m just really, really pleased for the way we played; we need one more game to qualify mathematically and then two more to finish first.”

City can clinch their spot in the knockout stage when they play Young Boys again, this time at home, on Nov. 7.

Haaland scored for the first time in six Champions League games with a penalty in the 67th minute after Mohamed Camara’s tackle on Rodri in the box.

City’s goal-scoring machine added a fabulous second goal when he moved the ball from his left foot to his right before firing it into the top corner in the 86th.

Haaland, who rewrote several scoring records last season, added another one on Wednesday, breaking Kylian Mbappe’s mark as the youngest player to score 37 Champions League goals. The Norwegian striker, who is 23 years and 96 days, did it in 33 games.

City had a string of first-half near misses before Akanji finally broke the deadlock three minutes after the break when Ruben Dias’s header was pushed off the crossbar by keeper Anthony Racioppi and the Swiss defender swung his right leg high to boot it in.

But Young Boys caught City keeper Ederson in no man’s land to level four minutes later, sending in Meschack Elia with a superb pass which he scooped high over Ederson into the net.

A City goal felt like an inevitability after their string of unbelievable first-half near misses, including Jack Grealish’s curling shot that Racioppi dropped, allowing Matheus Nunes to bundle the ball towards the goal before Loris Benito slid to save it on the line.

City’s Julian Alvarez had a goal waved off after VAR determined Grealish had handled the ball in the build-up.

Young Boys are third in the group on one point after three matches.

Barcelona’s Torres and Lopez on target in 2-1 win over Shakhtar Donetsk

First-half goals from Ferran Torres and Fermin Lopez helped Barcelona secure a 2-1 home win against Shakhtar Donetsk in their Champions League Group H tie.

The locals dominated from the start despite missing several key players due to injury and suspensions, and they opened the scoring in the 28th minute with a Torres volley from a rebound after 20-year-old Lopez’s strike from close range smashed into the right post.

The goal was initially ruled out for a hint of an offside in the build up, but a VAR check confirmed that Lopez was onside when he struck from inside the box.

Without the injured Robert Lewandowski, Raphinha, Sergi Roberto, Frenkie De Jong, Jules Kounde and Pedri, and with midfielder Gavi suspended for a red-card in their win against FC Porto, Barca manager Xavi Hernandez called up eight academy players including Lopez who is becoming a regular in the first team.

He caused all kinds of trouble for Shakhtar and extended Barca’s lead in the 36th, unleashing a thunderous shot that ricocheted off the left post on its way in.

Barca then missed several chances to stretch out their lead, with Lopez hitting the post twice more and having two goals ruled out by VAR for tight offsides.

Shakhtar midfielder Georgiy Sudakov stroked in a tidy finish from a counterattack in the 62nd minute to narrow the deficit, but Barcelona held on despite late pressure to secure their third win in three games.

Leipzig battle past Red Star 3-1 to tighten hold on Group G second spot

RB Leipzig strengthened their hold on second place in Champions League Group G with a 3-1 victory over gritty Red Star Belgrade.

The hosts grabbed the lead in the 12th minute when Red Star lost possession in their own half and the Germans launched a quick, five-touch passing move which ended with David Raum drilling in with his left foot for his first ever Champions League goal.

Yussuf Poulsen, the longest-serving Leipzig player who this week signed a contract extension, then forced a save from keeper Omri Glazer with a curled shot as the visitors initially struggled with the Germans’ frenetic pace.

The Serbians thought they had earned some much-needed respite when they were awarded a penalty on the half hour for a clumsy challenge by Castello Lukeba but the referee reversed his decision shortly after, following a VAR review.

Red Star looked sharper after the break, having brought on Osman Bukari, scorer in both previous group matches, but their attempt at a quick comeback was cut short when Leipzig’s Xavi Simons unleashed a stunning shot from 20 metres into the top corner to make it 2-0 in the 59th.

Marko Stamenic benefited from a deflection to cut the deficit in the 70th and reignite their hopes but it was the Germans who scored again in the 84th, through substitute Dani Olmo from close range, with the Serbians hitting the woodwork a minute later.

Leipzig are on six points from three matches, three behind leaders Manchester City, who beat Young Boys 3-1. Red Star are on one point, the same as the Swiss side.

French connection strikes as PSG beat AC Milan to go top

Another Kylian Mbappe moment of magic and a Randal Kolo Muani goal helped Paris St Germain beat a toothless AC Milan 3-0 at the Parc des Princes to go top of their Champions League Group F.

France forward Mbappe broke the deadlock with a clever low shot before the break, before Kolo Muani doubled the advantage in the second half after some fine play by their national team partner Ousmane Dembele.

Lee Kang-in added a third in the last minute for good measure.

While it was not an easy affair in the first half, Luis Enrique’s side prevailed to be on six points from three games, two ahead of Borussia Dortmund who claimed a 1-0 win at Newcastle United.

AC Milan, who have now failed to score in five consecutive Champions League games and netted only once in their last four competitive matches, are bottom of the group on two points.

PSG got off to an aggressive start but were outnumbered in the midfield and struggled to free themselves from Milan’s pressing play.

They managed once, however, to take the upper hand in the midfield when Zaire-Emery powered through to find Mbappe, who beat his defender and found the back of the net with a low shot into the corner on 32 minutes.

Ousmane Dembele celebrated what he thought was his first goal with PSG, but his effort was ruled out for a preceding foul by Manuel Ugarte.

Dembele did not give up, however, and he then created Kolo Muani’s goal five minutes later as his shot was deflected by Milan keeper Mike Maignan into the path of his compatriot, who slotted it into the empty net.

Milan threatened at times, notably through Christian Pulisic, but Gianluigi Donnarumma was on a good day, also tipping Rafael Leao’s effort away to keep a clean sheet.

Mbappe had another couple of chances but was twice denied by Maignan, who showed his best side to make two great saves.

Lee then netted his first PSG goal in the last minute when he connected with a Zaire-Emery cut back as the French Under-21 midfielder completed a man-of-the-match performance.

PSG next travel on Nov. 7 to Milan, who will need what would be their first win in the group stage to maintain their hopes of reaching the knockout phase.

Borussia will host Newcastle looking to put their opponents three points behind them in the table.

Atletico fight back to draw thriller with Celtic

Atletico Madrid battled back twice to draw 2-2 at Celtic in a thrilling Champions League Group E clash in which the Spanish side played the last few minutes with 10 men.

Feyenoord took over top spot in the standings on six points after a 3-1 win at Lazio earlier on Wednesday and the draw left Atletico second on five points, one clear of Italy’s Lazio in third. Celtic are bottom with one point from three games.

Roared on at a sold-out Celtic Park, speedy Kyogo Furuhashi made the most of the hosts’ early pressure and ghosted between two Atletico defenders to open the scoring with a tidy close-range finish after four minutes.

Atletico tried to hit back in the 16th minute when Antoine Griezmann released a tremendous shot towards the bottom left corner, but goalkeeper Joe Hart denied the Frenchman with a brilliant one-handed save.

Griezmann did equalise nine minutes later after Atletico were awarded a penalty when Nahuel Molina was fouled and the French forward put the ball into an empty net after his spot-kick struck the post.

Luis Palma restored Celtic’s lead three minutes later with a brilliant curling shot from a wide angle but Atletico levelled again in the 53rd minute through fine diving header by Alvaro Morata which arched over Hart.

The visitors dominated the closing stages and missed several chances to grab a winner before midfielder Rodrigo de Paul was shown a second yellow card for a hint of contact in a challenge with Paulo Bernardo, but the Spanish side hung on the draw.

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