Ernesto Valverde hails improvement in final third as Barcelona bounce back against Inter

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Barcelona boss Ernesto Valverde felt his side’s improvement in the final third was the reason behind their comeback win over Inter Milan in the Champions League.

The hosts were up against it at the Nou Camp after Lautaro Martinez struck in the second minute for the Serie A leaders.

But Barca improved, with Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez taking centre stage in the second half.

Suarez netted twice, the second coming in the 84th minute following a fine run from Messi, to seal a 2-1 win which put the Spanish champions level with Borussia Dortmund in Group F, three points above Slavia Prague and Inter.

Valverde told Marca: “We needed to transform the match going forward. We controlled the play with (Sergio) Busquets, Arthur (Melo), (Frenkie) De Jong, but we didn’t have any space to play.

“We needed to be more of a threat in their area and be more decisive in the final third. They kept us far away from their goal and we were able to come back.”

Barcelona were fortunate to only be one goal down at half-time after Inter missed several chances to add to Martinez’s fine finish.

Antonio Candreva had a goal disallowed for offside, Nicolo Barella saw a shot blocked and Martinez was denied by a fine save from Marc-Andre Ter Stegen.

“(Lautaro’s goal) really put the game in their favour and strengthened their situation a lot,” Valverde said.

“They’re a powerful team, they’re first in the Italian league (after) winning all their matches. They made our lives difficult, but we were better in the second half.”

The defeat for Inter, who return to league action against champions Juventus on Sunday, was their first this season under Antonio Conte.

Midfielder Barella told Sky Sport: “We came here and demonstrated that we’re capable of matching them and winning: this is what Conte asked of us.

“We also showed this after the equaliser, but they found the winning goal. It’s disappointing, but now we go forward and start thinking about the next game.”

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Chelsea boss Frank Lampard expecting many more Champions League goals from Tammy Abraham

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Frank Lampard believes Tammy Abraham‘s maiden Champions League goal will be the first of many.

Abraham found the net on his birthday and Willian marked his 300th Chelsea appearance with the second as Chelsea won 2-1 in Lille.

Abraham is expected to earn an England call-up on Thursday, and Lampard said: “Tammy’s performance was more of the same of what we have been seeing.

“He’s hungry for goals, he’s physical, he gives everything for the team, he has quality with ball at his feet.

“It’s his first Champions League goal and we’ll see many more, I hope, and many more performances like tonight.”

Abraham celebrated his 22nd birthday with a goal in the 22nd minute after Marcos Alonso, in an advanced position down the left, laid the ball back to Fikayo Tomori.

The young defender launched it into the area where Abraham, just onside, was able to control the ball, spin and place it beyond Lille keeper Mike Maignan.

Lille hit back 12 minutes later when Chelsea left the impressive Victor Osimhen unattended to head in a corner at the far post.

However, with 13 minutes remaining substitute Callum Hudson-Odoi got free down the left and lifted the ball towards the far post, where Willian struck a clever volley into the ground and over Maignan.

Lampard had played down the significance of this match but after dropping all three points to Valencia at home two weeks ago, and with a trip to to Ajax next up, the margin for error would have got a lot smaller without a victory.

Lampard, who said there is no news on Willian’s current contract situation, added: “There’s a long way to go in the group but having lost against Valencia we put more importance on this game.

“This is such a tough place, anyone in this stadium would tell you. The roof was on, the crowd were up for it. The speed in their team, in an attacking sense and counter attacking particularly, was very evident.

“We knew to be ready for it and I thought our performance was really good. We controlled the early periods of the game, we got our goal.

“Set pieces are a problem for us and we have to keep working on that even more, but with the way we played, the chances we created and the possession of the ball we had, I felt we deserved to win.”

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Jurgen Klopp was always confident Liverpool would come through wobble at Anfield

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Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp insists he was not overly concerned after squandering a three-goal advantage against Red Bull Salzburg as he had faith in his players’ strength of character to bounce back.

The Reds raced into a commanding lead with goals from Sadio Mane, Andy Robertson and Mohamed Salah inside 36 minutes but started to go backwards when Hee-Chan Hwang pulled one back just before half-time.

Takumi Minamino set nerves jangling 10 minutes after the break and when substitute Erling Braut Haaland scored his 18th of the season four minutes after coming on, it appeared the European champions’ homecoming would fall flat.

However, Salah took his tally to 12 in 13 Anfield Champions League appearances to secure a first victory in Group E.

“That we showed character, I would be the last one to be surprised by that,” said Klopp.

“That’s why I was not overly concerned at the moment of 3-3 because I knew we would have moments again.

“It would be silly if that were not possible because we did so many good things so we should not lose complete faith in ourselves in the moment when it becomes a bit difficult.

“It was far away from being a perfect game but it was a typical Liverpool game, very exciting. I thought after the game maybe I am angry but I realised I am not angry, so why should I show up as if I am angry?

“I respect the performance of the opponent and saw a lot of good things from us. We can do better. We will do better. That’s it.”

Liverpool conceded three goals for the first time since their Champions League semi-final first leg against Barcelona in the Nou Camp last season and only the second time in all competitions since losing to Real Madrid in the 2018 final.

With third-placed Leicester arriving at Anfield on Saturday, Klopp knows his players have to fix the problem and tighten up.

“I am sure Brendan Rodgers thinks if we defend like we did tonight then probably Jamie Vardy will run five times alone with the goalkeeper,” added Klopp.

“It was a very important lesson for us tonight. We will learn but we have to learn quick. I knew before that we have to improve a lot but now everybody knows it probably.”

Salzburg boss Jesse Marsch felt his side proved a lot at Anfield, having opened their campaign with a 6-2 win over Genk, who subsequently held Napoli to a goalless draw.

“We have seen, we can play at this level. When we play our football, we always have a chance,” he said.

“Of course we had the hope for a point after getting it back to 3-3, we were close. I am very proud of the team and it is important that we learn from this evening.”

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