Thu, Sep 19, 2019 - Page 16 News List

Drama as Reds, Chelsea lose openers

RISING STAR:Salzburg’s Erling Braut Haaland became the third-youngest player to score a Champions League hat-trick after netting three before halftime against Genk


RB Salzburg’s Erling Braut Haaland celebrates scoring the first of his three goals against KRC Genk on Tuesday in Salzburg, Austria.

Photo: Reuters

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.

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