The first round of Champions League fixtures are done and several players wasted no time making their mark on this edition.
Two hat-tricks were scored this week, including one from a teenage debutant. Meanwhile, Real Madrid were put to the sword by a former player.
Here’s our Team of the Week.
GK: MARC-ANDRE TER STEGEN | BARCELONA
If not for Marc-Andre ter Stegen, Marco Reus would likely have made this week’s team. The Barcelona keeper denied his compatriot on multiple occasions, even saving his penalty. Ter Stegen was flawless between the sticks and made good saves look routine.
Ter Stegen is definitely NOT the guy you want to face from the spot. 😱 pic.twitter.com/GNNuvdeAyB— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) September 17, 2019
RB: KIERAN TRIPPIER | ATLETICO MADRID
Trippier contained Cristiano Ronaldo reasonably well without really being sucked into one-on-one battles. The Englishman supplied 11 crosses, including seven key passes. He delivered the corner for Hector Herrera’s late equaliser and even made a goal-line clearance.
Kieran Trippier created 7 chances vs. Juventus, 3 more than any other player on the pitch.— Statman Dave (@StatmanDave) September 18, 2019
Caused havoc with his corners. 🎯 pic.twitter.com/zppz135yXi
CB: MATS HUMMELS | BORUSSIA DORTMUND
Outstanding in defence and showed why Dortmund re-signed him. His reading of the game was superb, making eight interceptions to break up several attacks. He also registered four tackles and nine clearances as he lead the back-line expertly against Barca.
Mats Hummels' #UCL game by numbers vs. Barcelona:— Squawka Football (@Squawka) September 17, 2019
100% duels won
87% pass accuracy
0 fouls committed
0 goals conceded
Back to his very best. pic.twitter.com/wt7LSzJUzp
CB: NICOLAS TAGLIAFICO | AJAX
The Ajax left-back has rarely featured in the middle of defence but we had to fit him into this XI after his goal and assist against Lille. With eight tackles and eight interceptions, he was brilliant in defence. He set up Quincy Promes for the opener and rounded off the scoring with a bullet header of his own.
LB: JUAN BERNAT | PSG
Juan Bernat is the reason for Tagliafico’s move into central defence. His run and cut-back for Angel Di Maria’s opener was excellent but not as good as his selfless play at the death when he combined with Thomas Meunier for the Belgian to slot home the third goal.
CM: THIAGO ALCANTARA | BAYERN MUNICH
Not enough praise is showered on Thiago Alcantara. Apart from setting up Thomas Muller for the third goal with a clever chipped free-kick, the Spaniard was indomitable in midfield. He absolutely bossed proceedings with 110 passes, controlling the game effortlessly.
CM: RIYAD MAHREZ | MANCHESTER CITY
Having been afforded a start by Pep Guardiola, Riyad Mahrez grabbed the opportunity with both hands and delivered a match-winning display. He was heavily involved in the final third and was alert to break the deadlock before assisting Ilkay Gundogan as well.
CM: ANGEL DE MARIA | PSG
Never mind filling in for one superstar, Di Maria did so for three. With Kylian Mbappe, Edinson Cavani and Neymar all unavailable, the Argentine stepped up and produced a couple of stunning goals to inspire PSG to a resounding win over Madrid. He came close to completing his hat-trick a couple of times.
RW: MISLAV ORSIC | DINAMO ZAGREB
A measured finish from outside the area saw him slot away his first before he was on hand to nod into an empty net from Bruno Petkovic’s knockdown. Peeled away from the right-back well before bringing down the ball and finishing with aplomb in the far corner for his third goal.
ST: ERLING HAALAND| RB SALZBURG
The last player to score a hat-trick on his Champions League debut was Wayne Rooney. If Erling Haaland is anywhere near as good, he has a decent career ahead of him. He showed great composure and clinical finishing for his treble, profiting from some good work by strike partner Hwang Hee-Chan.
Erling Braut Håland for Red Bull Salzburg this season:— UtdArena. (@utdarena) September 17, 2019
👤 – 9 games
⚽ – 17 goals
🅰 – 4 assists
📈 – 33:29 minutes per goal-involvement
He has a hatrick in the first half. That write-up may change in the next hour.
19-years old. pic.twitter.com/aiuI08nZ91
LW: TIMO WERNER | RB LEIPZIG
His two goals in the second half came against the run of play. His first in particular was instinctive as he hit a loose ball first time past the keeper from just inside the box. It was a sucker punch to Benfica who were the team on top. A poacher’s finish then secured the points with Portuguese outfit only having time to halve the deficit before the final whistle.
Paris St Germain manager Thomas Tuchel believes his team have come a long way compared to last year in the Champions League.
A brace from Angel Di Maria helped them stun Real Madrid 3-0 at Parc des Princes in Group A of this season’s tournament.
Thomas Meunier added a third in stoppage time, after linking up with fellow full-back Juan Bernet, and Tuchel hailed the effort of his side.
Last season, PSG topped a group containing Liverpool, but were knocked out in the round of 16 in dramatic fashion by Manchester United, who scored a late penalty awarded by VAR.
Tuchel told Viasport: “It was a great team performance and this for me is the biggest thing – we were the better team and we won deservedly.
“Everyone worked together, we never lost the structure and we attacked brave. We had good possession and all together it was a very complete team effort and team performance and this makes the coach most happy.”
The display from PSG was all the more impressive considering Neymar, Kylian Mbappe and Edinson Cavani were all unavailable.
“We are still working,” Tuchel said. “We have to say we have come a long way from last season when we played the first game in Liverpool and the second from last group game we were at home to Liverpool and you could see we could do it.
“After the defeat against Manchester United it was tough for everybody at the club and also for the players. Now we have some fresh blood and some players who give us real intensity and also personality.
“We feel we can handle big losses, there is no question we miss Kylian, Neymar and Eddie, but still we had a strong team who were ready to play at a high level. It’s a continuation of a process and we have to hang in there.”
Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois was powerless to stopping Di Maria enjoy a night to remember against his old club.
He scored in the 14th minute with a fierce strike from eight yards, after Bernet’s pass before he controlled the excellent Idrissa Gueye’s square ball and curled home with 33 on the clock.
On Di Maria, Courtois added: “He has a lot of quality and both his first and second goals he had a great shot.
“The first goal he shot really strongly at the front post and I didn’t have time to put my arm against it and the second was a great shot just outside the 18.
“A guy with his talent, we have to maybe be a bit closer to the ball, but that is football. I think he had a good game, but I’d prefer to analyse our game rather than focus on others.”
Within two minutes of Di Maria’s second, Madrid thought they had reduced the deficit when Gareth Bale lobbed Keylor Navas.
But VAR ruled the Welshman had handled the ball in the lead-up to the strike and Zinedine Zidane’s team failed to manage a single shot on target in Paris.
“I think from the start PSG had more intensity than us and in games like this, in the Champions League, it’s hard,” Courtois said.
“We found it hard to defend and to attack them as well. I don’t think we created one shot on target. Two shots were cancelled after, so it’s a hard night, but we need to analyse and think about what we could have done better.”
Provided by Press Association Sports
Pep Guardiola hailed a professional performance – but stressed there was no time to enjoy it – after Manchester City opened their Champions League campaign with a 3-0 win over Shakhtar Donetsk.
Riyad Mahrez, Ilkay Gundogan and Gabriel Jesus were all on target as City eased to victory over the Ukrainian champions in the Group C clash in Kharkiv.
It was a convincing start in a group they are expected to dominate but Guardiola’s thoughts were already turning to Saturday’s Premier League clash with Watford.
The City boss said: “I think already about Watford as we don’t have much time, but to start away in the Champions League with a good result (is positive) and I know we played really good.
“We created incredible chances and all the guys were fantastic. It’s a good result to start – better than last season.”
With Aymeric Laporte already sidelined, an injury to John Stones on the eve of the game left Nicolas Otamendi as City’s only fit specialist centre-back.
Midfielder Fernandinho filled in impressively against Shakhtar but Guardiola admits other options will also need to be explored.
Youngster Eric Garcia, who was on the bench in Ukraine, is an alternative but Guardiola may try switching some other senior players around first.
He said: “I didn’t have doubts he (Fernandinho) could do it and he’s going to do it (again).
“But Nico is 31, Fernandinho is 34, and next alternative is 18. For three or four months I don’t know what will happen.
“Both were incredible tonight but we need another solution – Rodri or Kyle (Walker) maybe – because they cannot play every game at their age. But Fernandinho can play in any position and that’s why he’s so important for us.”
Guardiola also picked out Gundogan and Mahrez for praise.
Asked if Gundogan did not get enough credit for his performances, Guardiola said: “The important thing is the credit he has from all of us, he is an exceptional player. It was outstanding from Ilkay today.”
He added of Mahrez, who set up Gundogan’s goal as well as scoring himself: “It’s a pleasure to watch him play football.”
Shakhtar occasionally threatened City on the break but coach Luis Castro admitted they paid the price for failing to take their chances.
He said: “We knew how difficult this game would be. Our plan was not letting City develop their attacks through the centre and we also wanted to organise fast counters and take our chances.
“At 1-0 Junior Moraes had a chance for an equaliser but we missed it and in a few minutes City scored the second goal. When you are 2-0 down you feel a mountain on your shoulders, so it was very hard in the second half. The game was finished by the third goal.”
Provided by Press Association Sports