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Jack Grealish, Jordan Henderson and familiar Man Utd woes – Champions League hits and misses

Grealish born for Champions League stage

Jack Grealish and the Champions League are a match made in heaven.

That appeared fairly apparent even earlier than he had kicked a ball within the competitors. Getting the possibility to play on the largest stage in European membership soccer was one of many most important causes Grealish gave for making the transfer to City from boyhood membership Aston Villa for a British-record price. His efficiency within the win over RB Leipzig solely backed up the choice.

Grealish, enjoying off the left ready he has already made his personal for his new membership, bought the ball rolling by helping the opening purpose for Nathan Ake from a nook earlier than grabbing the limelight on 56 minutes.

Perhaps certainly one of his best benefit towards enjoying groups on the continent is that they could underestimate him. Tyler Adams – RB Leipzig’s midfielder – appeared more than pleased to permit Grealish to dribble into the world and present him onto his proper foot. Not a clever resolution. Grealish took goal from 18 yards and despatched a flashing curling drive into the highest nook. That was certainly one of 9 progressive runs from City’s marquee man. The house followers have a brand new favorite.

“When I’m in that position off the left-hand side running into the opposition area, I’d back myself one-on-one against anyone to have a go and this time it paid off,” a grinning Grealish mentioned after the sport.

“As soon as the game kicked off, I actually thought to myself, ‘I’ve played in the Champions League now!’. The music and everything was so nice and the game topped it all off. I loved it.”

Not that Pep Guardiola regarded too impressed with Grealish’s output. The City boss at all times appears that further bit intense on a Champions League evening and Grealish bought first-hand expertise of his supervisor’s need to flourish in Europe’s elite competitors. The England worldwide – and Riyad Mahrez – bought a stern speaking to within the second half when City restored their two-purpose lead.

“The manager was just talking about defensive work,” mentioned Grealish when quizzed about his talks with the Spaniard.

“That’s what he’s like, he’s always wanting more defensively and offensively, he’s someone I’m going to listen to after everything he has achieved in the game. He’s always giving out useful information.”

Guardiola is aware of there may be a lot extra to come back from his £100m man. A scary thought.
Lewis Jones

Henderson ends drought on Anfield European reunion

Jordan Henderson hammered Liverpool back in front
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Jordan Henderson hammered Liverpool again in entrance

Few issues in soccer can rival the ambiance generated below the lights at Anfield on a European evening.

After 552 lengthy, arduous days with out Liverpool’s iconic house enjoying host to the continent’s iconic match, the wait lastly ended on Wednesday – and boy did the sport dwell as much as the event.

Since Atletico Madrid travelled to Anfield days earlier than the coronavirus pandemic took maintain in March 2020, Liverpool have relinquished their Premier League crown and seen their as soon as fortress of a stadium assailed by Burnley, Brighton, Everton, and Fulham amongst others.

You would have been forgiven for forgetting simply how influential Anfield was and nonetheless is to the Liverpool trigger, however Milan would have been left in little doubt after their first go to to Merseyside.

Milan made their first look in Europe’s elite-membership competitors since 2014 – a staggering absence for a membership whose seven titles sit second solely behind Real Madrid in European Cup folklore – and but Liverpool ought to have run away with the sport contained in the opening quarter, such was their dominance and the overwhelming ambiance it created.

To their credit score, Milan confirmed nice resolve to cancel out Fikayo Tomori’s early personal purpose with targets from Ante Rebic and Brahim Diaz within the area of two first-half-minutes after Mohamed Salah had a penalty save, however their resolve solely added to the drama that was to come back.

Salah atoned for his penalty miss with the equaliser inside three minutes of the restart earlier than Liverpool’s captain had the ultimate phrase.

Seven years on from his debut Champions League purpose, Jordan Henderson doubled his tally within the competitors with a strike match to win any sport as he thundered the sweetest of half-volleys into the online as Liverpool’s first assembly with Milan exterior of a remaining ended with probably the most satisfying of opening victories.

The energy of Anfield is again, and Liverpool may simply be, too.
Jack Wilkinson

New CL season, identical Man Utd errors

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Ole Gunnar Solskjaer says he substituted Cristiano Ronaldo and Bruno Fernandes in Manchester United’s Champions League defeat to Young Boys to guard the gamers

There has been a hum of pleasure round Man Utd this summer season. The acquisitions of Raphael Varane and Jadon Sancho, plus the fairytale return of Cristiano Ronaldo, has catapulted United into the trophy-successful sphere – so the pundits and commenters have mentioned.

But the final-minute defeat to Young Boys on Tuesday introduced an abrupt halt to that positivity – the Champions League is again with a stark reminder that no sport is assured.

Man Utd have been heavy favourites heading to Switzerland. Young Boys have already performed six qualifiers simply to succeed in the group levels and are thought of the ‘weakest’ workforce in Group F. But with a passionate house crowd behind them – mirroring these nice house ends in Europe, like Liverpool’s Kop or Dortmund’s Yellow Wall – Young Boys pulled off one of many best leads to their historical past.

There have been two clear lapses that contributed to the defeat. The one which modified the course of the sport was Aaron Wan-Bissaka’s pink card after a careless problem on Christopher Martins. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer instantly introduced on Diogo Dalot, however the United protection was in disarray till half-time, when there was a change to a again three.

“I thought we could have done better in the first half with 11 men”, Solskjaer mentioned. “In the second half, we felt in control without the ball. They didn’t create any big chances, but there were two unfortunate goals.”

The second was a poor error from Jesse Lingard. The introduction of Anthony Martial for Fred noticed him drop deeper into midfield, and his lax cross was turned house by Jordan Pefok with the final kick of the sport. It harks again to final season’s Champions League group levels, when two equally as stunning defensive errors allowed Istanbul Basaksehir to attain twice in a 2-1 defeat for United.

It appears to be the identical previous story in Europe for United, and Solskjaer simply can not fairly discover the fitting method for the Champions League but – Man Utd have misplaced seven of their 11 matches below him within the competitors. In reality, 13 per cent of their whole defeats within the competitors have come below Solskjaer (7/54), regardless of the Norwegian solely being in cost for 4.8 per cent of their matches (11/231).

So as soon as once more, it is going to be again to the drafting board for Solskjaer and United, however the supervisor appeared relaxed about their probabilities of making the knockout levels.

“We know we’ve given ourselves a more difficult task than we did last year, but everyone thought we were through after two games last year,” he mentioned. “You need 10, maybe 12 points, win all your home games and maybe one away from home. We’ve lost an opportunity to get three points, but we’ve got two home games next and we’ll focus on those two.”
Charlotte Marsh

Rudiger is changing into a Rolls-Royce defender

Antonio Rudiger was outstanding in Chelsea's 1-0 win over Zenit
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Antonio Rudiger was excellent in Chelsea’s 1-0 win over Zenit

The use of Antonio Rudiger has been certainly one of Thomas Tuchel’s many masterstrokes since arriving at Chelsea. But together with his contract up in the summertime, Chelsea merely should tie him down.

Frank Lampard had solely simply begun to make use of the defender when Tuchel arrived in January. Since then, Chelsea have registered 23 clear sheets throughout all competitions, greater than another facet in Europe’s massive 5 leagues in that interval. Rudiger has began 20 of these video games.

He’s has been imperious this season, and introduced calm to the defence on Tuesday evening as they handled the menace in behind of Sardar Azmoun. It is not going to be his hardest take a look at this season by any stretch, however the calm – virtually nonchalance – through which Rudiger cleared, tackled and dominated was infectious.

It has a knock-on influence up the sector, too. Much of Chelsea’s dangerous exploration within the remaining third comes from the sensation that each one is secure behind them in the event that they lose the ball. That will matter extra and extra this season, with Chelsea now a much bigger get as European champions.

It’s clear Rudiger is enjoying with supreme confidence; his 70-yard run from defence virtually resulted in one of many targets of Tuchel’s reign right here. The followers love him, however Chelsea should do the whole lot they will to maintain him.

As he walked out to talk to the media after the match, one fan shouted “sign the contract, Rudi!” Alongside Romelu Lukaku, match-winner right here, a brand new contract could be Chelsea’s most vital piece of enterprise this 12 months.

The vultures shall be circling, and rightly so. Rudiger is changing into a Rolls-Royce defender.
Gerard Brand

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