There were wins all around for the England teams on matchday 3 of the Group Stage in the Champions League. Spurs made a thrilling comeback to defeat Red Star Belgrade 5-0, Man City didn’t come away with a clean sheet but matched Spurs in number of goals, thrashing Atalanta 5-1. Chelsea walked away from Amsterdam ArenA with three points and Liverpool, the reigning Champions of Europe continue their undefeated flight to the top after a 4-1 win over Genk.
Spurs bounce back
Mauricio Pochettino has said that Spurs Champions League victory “has restored hope in his men” and there is no doubt that they will want to carry this winning momentum on throughout the season.
The runners-up of last years Champions League had only won four of thirteen fixtures in all tournaments this season, and the probability of a repeat of last year’s ascent to the Champions League final was looking, well, improbable. Both the boys, and the fans were beginning to seem a little disheartened, especially after the 7-1 defeat to Bayern Munich but Tuesday night erased all thoughts of doom and gloom.
Spurs displayed the level of football we had seen last year; a level of football we know they are capable of – high-quality and tactical. Harry Kane and Son Heung-min both scored twice and creative midfielder, Erik Lamela bagged one too, after a number of near-misses and excellent assists.
Kane started with an early header, landing it on the inside of the far post. Less than ten minutes later Son added another to the scoring sheet, doubling Tottenham’s lead. Unmarked, the forward came running down the left flank, to roof the ball off a sublime cross from Lamela. Red Star didn’t look like they had a chance as Pochettino’s men were running riot all over the Serbian side.
Before half-time Spurs made it 3-0 and it was Son again, who came charging down the left like a rocket on fire to receive the ball from Tanguy Ndombele. Red Star’s, Marko Marin had left the ball behind him after performing what was supposed to be an elaborate trick, though he was the one being laughed at the end. Ndombele wasted no time to collect the ball and Kane provided the perfect decoy for the two defenders as he ran up towards the right post, freeing up space for Son, who slipped it past the keeper down the left.
Son was rightly rewarded man of the match for his world-class performance and gave Pochettino more than enough reason to remain in the starting XI. He was a constant threat for Red Star and his promising performance was met by the encouraging chants of the fans in Spurs Stadium.
Lamela provided Spurs with their fourth. Aurier sent a low cross to Lamela, who had time to turn around with his back to the goal and drive it into the middle of the net – appalling defending from the home side. This was the midfielders 200th appearance for Tottenham and he made it a special one too.
Kane made it five, side-footing a pass into the bottom corner. That’s more like it COYS!
It was exactly what Spurs needed, which was echoed by Harry Kane after full time. The England international and Tottenham Hotspur captain then went on to say, “It can’t stop here, though, it was a game we were expected to win.”
Only time will tell how Spurs will continue in their race for the Champions League title but let’s hope that this new confidence breeds the same results.
Raheem Sterling scores a hat-trick for Man City
Though Atalanta put an end to Manchester City’s clean sheet in this season’s Champions League, the Citizens were in a league of their own against Gian Piero Gasperini’s men, who fall further to the bottom of Group C.
Man City were unfortunate to miss out on a place in the Champions League semi-finals last season, losing out to Tottenham Hotspur’s in the quarter-finals based on away goals as it was 4-4 agg. This year they’ll be hoping to make two colossal achievements – successive titles in the Premier League and overthrow Liverpool to walk away from Europe with the Champions League trophy too. If we think back to Liverpool’s semi-final game against Barcelona, well, that tells us all that even the impossible is possible so who’s to say Man City won’t do it?
Man City did what they do best at the Etihad and that is – make winning look easy. Aside from Phil Foden picking up two yellow cards following an unnecessary offence against Atalanta’s, Martin de Roon, Man City breezed through this game. Arguably, City were poorer in the first quarter of the game but after Atalanta converted the penalty, Pep Guardiola’s men quickly jolted to life.
Sergio Aguero opened the goal-scoring for Man City, with two in the first half. The Argentine forward has already broken a number of records at City, including being the all-time highest goal-scorer for the club and now closes in on Chelsea legend, Didier Drogba’s Champion League goal-scoring record of 36, as Aguero sits on 34.
His first goal came off a wonderful cross from Sterling at the edge-of-the-box, Aguero guided the ball past the keeper and Man City had equalised with the visiting side. Five minutes later and Sterling is sent down in the box, opening up another opportunity for Aguero to double his tally and he makes no mistake, driving a low ball into the net.
Having set up two shots now, Sterling took a hold of the scoring reigns. The Man City forward really is an extraordinary player, creating three goals in just 11 minutes. The first with assistance from Kevin Du Bruyne, who teed up with Foden to claim the third for Man City. It was magnificent play from the youngster, who wasn’t selfish at all, sending a short and quick pass to Sterling who was able to thrash it home for the Citizens.
An excellent pass from Ilkay Gündogan set up the second. Sterling raced onto the ball, leaving the defenders in the wind before slicing it into the back of the net. The Etihad was roaring. And Sterling is not even considered to be the finished article yet and is already a phenomenal player.
Mahrez set up the third, firing a cross towards the back post and Sterling finds the space. He was sharp, clinical – a whole lot of things compared to anyone else and Man City deservedly ended the game 5-1 Atalanta.
City still seem to be having defensive issues as Rodri was forced to come off in Tuesday’s Champions League game, suffering a hamstring injury. Let’s hope that this doesn’t become a problem for Pep Guardiola, who is already strained at the back.
Chelsea’s young side impress against Ajax
Chelsea join Ajax on six points after defeating them at home on Wednesday. Michy Batshuayi put Chelsea ahead with a late goal and boost their chances of qualifying from Group H. Whilst it wasn’t a five-goal lead like we had seen from some of the other England sides, Ajax are much fiercer opponent and this will definitely be one of the biggest successes of Frank Lampard’s career as a Chelsea manager thus far.
Ultimately, it was a game that could have gone either way as both sides missed some near opportunities but Chelsea had a little more to offer in the final third and made a big statement to defeat last season’s semi-finalists. A young manager and a young team achieving this kind of result speaks a lot about the maturity of the team and the commitment of the manager. It goes without saying that Frank wants every one of his team members to feel valued and the team seem to have found a rhythm now following a shaky start in the 2019/20 campaign.
Christian Pulisic teed up with Batshuayi, also known as Captain America and Batsman, as the fans have quickly addressed them as super-duo and scored the winner. The goal came in the 85th minute and it was an emphatic finish from Batshuayi, as the shot bounced in off the underside of the crossbar.
It was Chelsea’s second successive win under Lampard in the Champions League and a huge step towards a top-of-the-group finish.
Oxlade-Chamberlain leads the way for Liverpool
Liverpool continue their undefeated run to the top in the Champions League following victory against KRC Genk on Wednesday. The Reds ended their winning streak against Manchester United at Old Trafford in the Premier League last Sunday, scoring a late equaliser to take a point a piece and cut their lead at the top to six points.
But Wednesday night made up for all of that.
Jurgen Klopp gave fans the trio of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Naby Keita and Fabinho which they had been so strongly yearning for and it proved to be a successful change to the line-up. Oxlade-Chamberlain opened the scoring after just two minutes of play, sending a divine low-shot into the far corner.
The midfielder had been missing most of last season, suffering from a serious knee and hamstring injury after colliding with Aleksandar Kolarov during the semi-final leg against A.S. Roma. He seems to be back in his prime now and fans should continue to see a lot more of him on the pitch.
Genk did provide fierce opposition to the Reds, almost equalising in the first half before the goal was overruled by VAR for offside. Mbwana Samatta had fired a sublime header into the far corner and they were unfortunate not to equalise. But Oxlade-Chamberlain soon put any fears of an equaliser to bed with an outrageous goal, coming off the outside of his foot.
Firmino played the pass and Oxlade-Chamberlain spun it into the back of the net – all from the outside of the box. It was a stylish, sublime goal that hit the underside of the bar before hammering home.
Forwards, Mo Salah and Sadio Mane add to the scoresheet too. Salah finds Mane, who sprints into the 16-yard-box and lifts it above the keeper. Ten minutes later, Mane returns the favour, providing Salah with the assist. Like water he slips through Genk’s defence and whips the ball into the far post.
Genk did deny Liverpool a clean sheet but not enough to stop Liverpool from achieving their first away win in the Group Stage in over two years. The Reds now sit at the top of Group E – as to be expected – and will no doubt qualify to the Round of 16.