A round-up of Tuesday’s action in the UEFA Champions League.
IMAGE: Trent Alexander-Arnold celebrates scoring Liverpool’s first goal with Darwin Nunez in the Champions League Group A match against Rangers at Anfield, Liverpool, on Tuesday. Photograph: Carl Recine/Reuters
Liverpool put their recent stutters behind them to comfortably beat Rangers 2-0 in the Champions League on Tuesday and move into second spot in Group A.
The win, thanks to a sumptuous first-half free-kick from Trent Alexander-Arnold and a second-half penalty by Mohamed Salah, put the six-times European champions on six points after three games – three points behind leaders Napoli.
The Scots, who barely threatened Liverpool to the disappointment of their passionate fans complete with a bagpipe-player, remain bottom of the group on zero points.
In need of a morale booster after their poor start to the Premier League, Liverpool’s four-man attack of Salah, Diogo Jota, Luis Diaz and Darwin Nunez swarmed over Rangers from the off. By contrast, the visitors’ Colombian striker Alfredo Morelos was largely isolated.
Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp was delighted by his team’s tidy and confident performance, albeit against obviously weaker opposition, especially the first goal from Alexander-Arnold whom he had defended from recent criticism.
Alexander-Arnold, whose chances of making England’s World Cup squad are in the balance after recent below-par displays, struck a superb free kick over the wall and past Rangers keeper Allan McGregor in the seventh minute to raise the roof off Anfield.
Liverpool’s Nunez could have had a hat-trick in the first half as McGregor pulled off four saves in succession from the Uruguayan striker.
But it was Salah who scored the second from the penalty spot in the 53rd minute after Diaz was brought down in the box.
The so-called “Battle of Britain” clash underlined the gulf in quality between the top flight divisions in England and Scotland.
Rangers looked drained and exhausted trying to stem Liverpool’s attacks as the intuitive Thiago Alcantara blocked attacks and fed through balls from midfield.
Virgil van Dijk, who has been in the firing line for Liverpool’s leaky defence of late, was barely troubled at the back, although Rangers substitute Rabbi Matondo did force a goal line clearance from Kostas Tsimikas in the dying minutes.
Calhanoglu scores as Inter Milan sink Barcelona
IMAGE: Hakan Calhanoglu, centre, celebrates scoring what turned out to be the all-important goal for Inter Milan’s in the Group C match against Barcelona at San Siro, Milan, Italy. Photograph: Daniele Mascolo/Reuters
Inter Milan bounced back after two consecutive losses in Serie A with a crucial Champions League 1-0 win against Barcelona thanks to a Hakan Calhanoglu goal.
The Turkish midfielder slotted home a clinical strike from just outside the area, with the ball going into the corner to the goalkeeper’s right in added time before the break.
The home win lifted Inter to second place in Group C on six points, three behind leaders Bayern Munich and three in front of Barcelona.
Inter and Barca will face each other again next week at the Camp Nou when a third loss in four games would leave Barca in danger of being knocked out of the Champions League at the group stage for the second consecutive season.
Inter came into the match having lost four of their previous six games in all competitions and are ninth in Serie A, four points from the European qualification spots and eight behind leaders Napoli and Atalanta.
Barcelona, by contrast, arrived as the new LaLiga leaders and with striker Robert Lewandowski on a roll, having scored in six consecutive LaLiga match weeks.
But the Polish star forward made no impression at the San Siro, ending with no shots on target, having been neutralized by Inter’s five-man defence.
In the 24th minute, Barcelona got a break when a potential penalty for a handball by Eric Garcia inside the box was ruled out by the VAR check which spotted a close offside in the build-up.
Inter Milan had a Joaquin Correa goal ruled out in the very next play for another off-side.
However, they manage to break the deadlock at the end of the first half with Calhanoglu’s precise, low shot.
Ousmane Dembele was the lone bright spot for Barcelona up front, creating the few opportunities that Barcelona had despite dominating the ball possession.
The French winger had two cross-shots that went just wide in the first half and thundered a close-range shot off the right post midway through the second half.
Dembele kept insisting until he placed a perfect cross in Pedri’s path but Barca’s potential equaliser was ruled out after the VAR check spotted a handball by Ansu Fati right before Pedri’s strike.
Barca pressed with long balls and crosses in the final minutes. Their players clamoured for a penalty in added time, complaining about a possible handball inside the box by substitute Denzel Dumfries. But after a VAR check the referee ruled there had been no infringement by the Dutch defender.
Brugge upset Atletico, stay unbeaten in Group B
IMAGE: Kamal Sowah celebrates scoring Club Brugge’s first goal in the Champions League Group B match against Atletico Madrid at Jan Breydel Stadium, Bruges, Belgium. Photograph: Yves Herman/Reuters
Goals from Club Brugge forwards Kamal Sowah and Ferran Jutgla saw the Belgians beat Atletico Madrid 2-0 at home and extend their unbeaten run in Champions League Group B this season.
The hosts took the lead in the 36th minute when Jutgla’s low pass across the goal found Sowah, who tapped the the ball into an empty net for his second European goal in three games.
Jutgla doubled the lead in the 62nd after winger Tajon Buchanan calmly waited for the right moment to set up the Spaniard inside the box.
Atletico had a chance to get back into the match with a penalty 15 minutes later but Antoine Griezmann lashed the ball against the bar and moments later the Frenchman thought he had scored but his effort was ruled out for offside.
Brugge, who have yet to concede a goal in the campaign, remain top of the group on nine points. Atletico, Bayer Leverkusen and FC Porto have three points each after Porto picked up their first points with a 2-0 win against the Germans.
Brugge and Atletico will face each other again next Wednesday in the reverse fixture in Madrid.