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.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Friday said that he had called in the “third umpire” as he announced that recreational cricket would be allowed to resume next weekend. In a radio interview earlier on Friday, Johnson angered thousands of club cricketers by saying that the amateur game was still not safe to play amid the COVID-19 pandemic because of issues surrounding communal teas and dressing rooms. “It’s the teas, it’s the changing rooms and so on and so forth. There are other factors involved that generate proximity which you might not get in a game of tennis,” he said. Johnson had already
Indian police are investigating an alleged betting scandal in which a sham cricket tournament was held in an Indian village and passed off as a Twenty20 contest played in Sri Lanka. Players portrayed as Sri Lankan cricketers played two matches on Monday last week that were broadcast with live commentary on YouTube, media reports said, along with ball-by-ball coverage on top Indian sports Web sites. The organizers hung Sri Lankan advertisements at the ground for added authenticity and put up tents to block the view from outside the remote rural venue, set in farmland next to a busy highway. Police said that they
Taipower on Sunday charged to their third straight win and took over first place in the Taiwan Football Premier League as previous leaders Taichung Futuro suffered their first defeat of the season, while Hang Yuan rallied from two goals down to complete a thrilling 3-2 victory over National Taiwan University of Sport (NTUS). Heading into the 10th round of matches, unbeaten Taichung Futuro led the league with 21 points, but they fell to their first defeat of the season, a 1-0 loss to Tatung at the National Stadium in Kaohsiung. In a match in which both defenses were on top and there
HOTSHOT: Luis Suarez scored his 194th goal for Barca, tying him with Ladislao Kubala as the club’s third-highest scorer, behind Cesar Rodriguez and Lionel Messi With another decisive penalty from Sergio Ramos, Real Madrid on Sunday extended their perfect run after the COVID-19 suspension and moved closer to their first Spanish title in three years. Ramos scored his fifth goal since the season resumed as Madrid defeated Athletic Bilbao 1-0 to maintain a four-point lead over Barcelona, who beat fifth-placed Villarreal 4-1. Luis Suarez and Antoine Griezmann were among the scorers for Barcelona after assists from Lionel Messi. Ramos converted a 73rd-minute penalty to give Madrid their seventh straight victory and they remain the only team with a perfect record since La Liga resumed. “These three points are very