Europe’s prime competition was at its most thrilling once again on Wednesday when the fans across the continent enjoyed some spectacular clashes. All eyes were at the Camp Nou where Barcelona hosted Inter Milan in the most exciting affair of the evening, at least on paper. However, the outing from Anfield stole the show as Salzburg pushed Liverpool to the limits, but the Reds somehow managed to survive the Austrian scare and get away win a 4-3 victory in front of their fans.
Elsewhere, Chelsea snatched their first win of the campaign beating Ligue 1 side Lille 1-2 on the road. Borussia Dortmund, Zenit, and Lyon also claimed their maiden wins, while last term semi-finalists Ajax roared to another 0-3 victory, this time dispatching Valencia away at Estadio de Mestalla. The only goalless affair was seen on the Belgian soil where Genk surprisingly held Napoli to claim their first point of the campaign.
Barcelona v Inter Milan
The first goal was scored just in the Catalan capital, but sadly for the local fans, it was Lautaro Martinez who opened up the scoring to give Inter a shocking lead on the road. Nerazzurri were in full control in the first half. Antonio Conte’s handwrite was recognizable on the pitch as Inter demonstrated a textbook example of a perfect defensive display against such powerful opposition.
The Italian Serie A leaders wasted several good chances before the break as Marc-Andre ter Stegen was Barcelona’s saviour once again. The German keeper was the main responsible for the goalless draw to Borussia Dortmund on the opening Matchday at Signal-Iduna-Park.
However, the second half brought a different story. Ernesto Valverde substituted Sergio Busquets for Arturo Vidal as the change paid off as the Chilean midfielder assisted for Luis Suarez’s beautiful volley from outside the box. Ousmane Dembele was brought it as well for the Catalans who gained control as Inter were not a threat from counter-attacks any more. Finally, Lionel Messi had his moment of magic. His solo-effort resulted in an assist for Luis Suarez who completed a brace with a decent close-range effort which left Samir Handanovic powerless.
Barcelona secured their first three-pointer of the campaign and they now share the top of the group standings with Borussia Dortmund. According to leading comparison site bettingsitesonline the Catalans are still amongst the favourites to win the trophy with all the major bookmakers. With a double-header against Slavia Prague upcoming, we can say Blaugrana have all but secured the progression to the last 16 rounds. Inter sit third at a single point and they will need to be better than Borussia Dortmund in the next double header to advance.
Liverpool v Salzburg
It looked like an entirely one-sided contest when Liverpool went 3-0 up by the 36th minute, but it ended up as a genuine treat for both teams’ fans who enjoyed a seven-goal thriller on the evening. Jurgen Klopp could have been thrilled with how his men performed in the opening stages of the affair. Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane combined beautifully before the latter broke the deadlock with a neat finish past keeper Stankovic.
The Reds showed a phenomenal team effort to double the lead as two full backs had the finishing touches. Trent Alexander-Arnold delivered from the right flank, while Andy Robertson sent the ball behind Stankovic’s back. Mohamed Salah notched the third after the deflection.
However, we all knew Salzburg have goals in their ranks. They bagged as many as 40 in 9 domestic league affairs so far in the season. They also made a dream debut in the group phase of the Champions League netting six goals past Genk two weeks ago on the Austrian soil. Virgil van Dijk is arguably the best centre back in the world, but he was easily beaten by Hwang Hee-Cha who then pulled one back for Salzburg after an incredible dribble on the Dutch defender.
The Korean forward then delivered for his team’s second goal which came from Takumi Minamino. Erling Haaland, the miraculous Norwegian kid who completed a hat-trick in the first-round demolition of Genk, came on from the bench in the meantime. The new Norwegian prodigy needed no more than four minutes to leave a mark as he brought the Austrian champions back on level terms.
Nonetheless, Mohamed Salah had the final word as he completed his brace 21 minutes from time to set the final score 4-3 for Jurgen Klopp’s troops. Hats off to Salzburg for yet another beautiful football display.
Ajax party goes on, Chelsea’s maiden victory
Out of all other matches, we have to underline Ajax’s phenomenal performance in the 0-3 drubbing of Valencia. The match could have gone the other way had Dani Parejo converted the penalty kick for the hosts (at 0-1 for the Dutch side). This way de Godenzonen won each of two Champions League outings with an identical 3-0 scoreline. Hakim Ziyech, Dusan Tadic, & company thus proved to have what it takes to match last term’s amazing run when they were stopped at the penultimate hurdle by Lucas Moura’s amazing hat-trick in Amsterdam.
Chelsea clinched an important 1-2 victory over Lille away at Stade Pierre-Mauroy. Frank Lampard’s men thus bounced back from a disappointing 0-1 loss to Valencia on the opening Matchday. Tammy Abraham and Willian were goal-scorers for the Blues.
The losers of the evening are Napoli who failed to back up the initial victory over Liverpool. They created a host of chances in front of Genk’s goal, but striker Arkadiusz Milik wasted them all.
We also have to mention Achraf Hakimi whose brace made the difference for Borussia Dortmund away at Slavia Prague. Group G is also wide open after the Matchday No 2 results as Lyon stunned RB Leipzig 0-2 on the road thanks to goals from Memphis Depay and Martin Terrier. Zenit hold the top of the group after a 3-1 victory over Portuguese Benfica.