Holders Liverpool on Tuesday began their defense of the Champions League trophy with a defeat against SSC Napoli, while one missed spot-kick condemned Chelsea to defeat against Valencia and another came to Barcelona’s rescue.
Liverpool last season survived a 1-0 defeat in Naples in the group stage to go on and win their sixth European Cup, and this time a 2-0 reverse at the San Paolo made them the first reigning champions to lose their opening game in the competition since 1994.
Both sides had chances in the Group E clash before the hosts won a late penalty with barely 10 minutes remaining when Jose Callejon went down under an Andy Robertson challenge.
Dries Mertens beat Adrian from 12 yards and substitute Fernando Llorente — who played for Tottenham Hotspur against Liverpool in last season’s final — then took advantage of a rare defensive lapse by Virgil van Dijk to make it 2-0 in stoppage time.
“I don’t think it’s a penalty. What can I say, for me, it is clear and obvious no penalty,” Liverpool boss Juergen Klopp said of the spot-kick to BT Sport. “We played a lot of good football, but didn’t finish it off.”
Liverpool must now bounce back in two weeks when they host Austrian champions RB Salzburg, who made a stunning return to the group stage as teenage forward Erling Braut Haaland netted a hat-trick in a 6-2 demolition of KRC Genk.
Salzburg had fallen in the qualifying rounds in the past seven campaigns, but finally progressed this season to the group stage for the first time since 1994-1995.
Haaland, the English-born Norwegian striker whose father, Alf-Inge, played for Manchester City, gave Salzburg a lead in the second minute and netted twice more before halftime.
Aged just 19 years and 58 days, Haaland is the third-youngest player to score a Champions League hat-trick behind Wayne Rooney and Raul, according to sports statisticians Opta.
South Korean Hwang Hee-chan and Dominik Szoboszlai also struck before the break for Salzburg, while captain Andreas Ulmer completed the rout in the second half.
Jhon Lucumi and Tanzanian striker Mbwana Samatta scored for the Belgian champions.
Last season’s Europa League winners Chelsea ensured it was two defeats out of two on the night for English sides as they lost 1-0 at home to Valencia.
The Spaniards scored in the 74th minute when a Dani Parejo free-kick was converted by Rodrigo Moreno.
Chelsea were given a chance to rescue a draw when Daniel Wass was penalized for handball in the box, but Ross Barkley’s 87th-minute penalty hit the bar and went over.
“It’s a harsh lesson of Champions League football, a game we’ve played pretty well in and we lose it,” Chelsea boss Frank Lampard said. “The good thing is we have five more games to turn it around.”
Also in Group H, last season’s semi-finalists Ajax claimed an impressive 3-0 home win over Lille with two of their newest signings among the goals.
Quincy Promes headed the Dutch champions in front and the Mexican Edson Alvarez doubled their lead early in the second half before Nicolas Tagliafico sealed the win.
After a patchy start to the season, Barcelona are to be relieved to escape from their trip to Borussia Dortmund with a 0-0 draw as Lionel Messi returned from injury as a second-half substitute.
The home side will feel they should have won, but Marco Reus had a second-half penalty saved before Julian Brandt hit the bar late on.
“We played brilliantly in the second half and it feels a bit like we have lost two points,” Dortmund defender Mats Hummels told Sky.
Those two appear well placed already to progress from Group F after Inter needed a stoppage-time Nicolo Barella goal to rescue a 1-1 draw against Slavia Prague.
Nigerian forward Peter Olayinka put Slavia ahead in the 63rd minute, only for Barella to level in the second minute of stoppage time after a Stefano Sensi free-kick hit the bar.
In Group G, RB Leipzig won 2-1 at Benfica with Timo Werner bagging a brace before Haris Seferovic pulled one back.
Earlier, Memphis Depay’s penalty gave Lyon a 1-1 draw at home to Zenit Saint-Petersburg after Iranian striker Sardar Azmoun opened the scoring.
A feel-good campaign allowing fans to have cardboard cutouts of themselves at Australian rugby league games has been hijacked by pranksters, with a notorious serial killer among those making an appearance — while one TV show edited an image of Adolf Hitler into the crowd. The NRL launched “Fan In The Stand” to coincide with the sport’s return at the weekend after its season was put on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Supporters are barred from stadiums under strict health protocols, but can pay A$22 (US$15) to have their photograph printed on a life-size cutout and placed in the stands of
When Atalanta BC coach Gian Piero Gasperini was struggling with COVID-19 in the middle of March, the prospect of entering Bergamo’s hospital — which was overflowing with coronavirus patients at the time — made him fear for his life. “Every two minutes an ambulance passed by. It seemed like a war,” Gasperini said. “At night, I would think: ‘If go in there [the hospital], what will happen to me?’” Fortunately for Gasperini, he quickly recovered and did not have to check into Pope John XXIII hospital. The coach only recently confirmed that he had the coronavirus when the entire team was tested 10
The losing captain thanked the winning team’s players for their personal sacrifices leading into the match and a charter flight pilot received a big round of applause when his plane beat incoming fog to touch down after midnight following another game as feel-good stories off the field matched those on it as the National Rugby League (NRL) restarted its season in Australia over the weekend. The New Zealand Warriors’ 18-0 win over St George Illawarra was the Auckland-based team’s first of the season after three rounds and it could not have come at a better time. Due to international travel restrictions
“Road Runner” Alphonso Davies lived up to his nickname with another lightning sprint on Saturday as Bayern Munich opened a 10-point lead in the Bundesliga. Having defeated second-placed Borussia Dortmund 1-0 away in midweek, Bayern enjoyed a 5-0 romp over Fortuna Duesseldorf. Defender Mathias Joergensen scored an early own-goal before Benjamin Pavard, Robert Lewandowski (2) and Davies scored for Bayern. With five games remaining, the defending champions, who have won their past eight league games, are comfortably on course for an eighth straight league title. Davies scored the best goal of the game when the fleet-footed defender pressed Duesseldorf into making a mistake, barged