Wed | Dec 8, 2021

Messi and PSG held by Brugge; City, Liverpool win

Published:Thursday | September 16, 2021 | 12:11 AMGENEVA, Switzerland (AP):
Paris Saint-Germain’s Lionel Messi (right) fights for the ball with Club Brugge’s Eder Balanta during their UEFA Champions League Group A match at the Jan Breydel Stadium in Bruges, Belgium yesterday.
Paris Saint-Germain’s Lionel Messi (right) fights for the ball with Club Brugge’s Eder Balanta during their UEFA Champions League Group A match at the Jan Breydel Stadium in Bruges, Belgium yesterday.

Lionel Messi, Kylian Mbappé and Neymar lined up together in the near-perfect attack for Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) yesterday and still could not score or deliver a win in the UEFA Champions League.

Instead, it was low-key midfielder Ander Herrera who got PSG’s goal in a 1-1 draw at underrated Belgian champions Club Brugge.

Though Messi saw a first-half shot strike the crossbar, he was later shown a yellow card for a foul, and Mbappé went off because of an injured left ankle.

French forwards flourished elsewhere, with Sébastien Haller scoring four for Ajax in a 5-1 rout at Sporting Lisbon and Christopher Nkunku netting all of Leipzig’s goals in a 6-3 loss to Manchester City.

The English clubs in action combined for two wins in matches involving 14 goals as Liverpool beat AC Milan 3-2 in the Italians’ return to the competition after a seven-season gap.

There was just one goal in the games involving the Madrid clubs, and Rodrygo’s 89th-minute strike won it for Real Madrid at Inter Milan. Atlético Madrid were held 0-0 at home to Porto.

Debutants Sheriff Tiraspol from the Moldovan league won 2-0 against Shakhtar Donetsk from neighboring Ukraine.

PARIS MISFIRE

Three-time European champion Messi was added to PSG’s already stellar squad last month to drive the Qatar-owned club’s quest to win football’s most coveted club prize.

The Jan Breydel Stadium in Belgium was a modest venue for the Messi-Mbappé-Neymar forward line to be unveiled for the first time. They lasted just 50 minutes together, though Mbappé did create Herrera’s opening goal from a sharp first-time shot in the 15th minute.

Club Brugge rose to the moment and captain Hans Vanaken levelled in the 27th.

City lead Group A after beating Leipzig 6-3 with six different scorers, including record signing Jack Grealish. Leipzig defender Angeliño was sent off on his return to his former club.

PSG host City on September 28 in a rematch of last season’s semi-finals. The English champions advanced after winning the first leg 2-1 in Paris.

LIVERPOOL COMEBACK

Liverpool and AC Milan traded titles facing each other in the 2005 and 2007 Champions League finals yet had never met at any other stage of the competition.

Their first match at Anfield was a typically rousing affair in the storied venue that thrives on European nights.

Liverpool’s early surge yielded only a Trent Alexander Arnold-inspired opening goal and a penalty for Mohamed Salah saved by Milan goalkeeper Mike Maignan.

Milan stunned their hosts with two quick goals just before halftime, but the lead lasted just a few minutes into the second half before Salah levelled.

Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson clinched a 3-2 win with a sharp half-volley shot in the 69th minute.

Atletico’s returning star forward Antoine Griezmann was jeered by many home fans at the Metropolitano Stadium when he came on as a substitute in a goalless draw with Porto.

Yesterday’s results

Group A

Club Brugge 1-1 PSG

Man City 6-3 Leipzig

Group BAtl Madrid 0-0 Porto

Liverpool 3-2 Milan

Group C

Besiktas 1-2 Dortmund

Sporting 1-5 Ajax

Group d

FC Sheriff 2-0 Shakhtar Donetsk

Inter 0-1 Real Madrid