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Champions League wrap: Messi, Neymar shine for Barca, PSG (video)

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Neymar had his new trident flying, while Lionel Messi didn’t need much more than his own boots.

The UEFA Champions League group stage got off to a goal-heavy start on Tuesday, with its stars on show.

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Premier League sides Manchester United and Chelsea cruised to wins, while Barca flattened visiting Juventus and PSG made Celtic Park a house of horrors for their Scottish hosts.

All that and more below…

Barcelona 3-0 Juventus

Lionel Messi scored twice and helped set up a third as the Blaugranas got off to a flying start in the 2017-18 UEFA Champions League.

A solid save from Gianluigi Buffon on Luis Suarez kept the hosts off the scoreboard, but Lionel Messi was sure to have Barca in front when the halftime whistle blew at the Camp Nou.

Messi nearly struck again in the second half, but Ivan Rakitic deposited the Argentine’s blocked effort in the goal to double Barca’s advantage. He added his third soon after as Barca cruised to a win.

Here’s the opener:

Chelsea 6-0 QarabagRECAP

Five different Blues helped bury the Azerbaijan visitors, as Pedro, Davide Zappacosta, Tiemoue Bakayoko, Michy Batshuayi, and Cesar Azpilicueta all scored in the blowout.

Batshuayi finished with a brace.

It did not take long for the Blues to take an expected lead on their visitors from Azerbaijan, with Willian playing a corner kick that Pedro blasted into the roof of the goal.

Then Davide Zappacosta, making his first Chelsea start, dribbled down the right flank before scoring a sensational curling effort from outside the far right corner of the 18.

Manchester United 3-0 Basel — RECAP

Paul Pogba pulled up with a leg injury and had to leave the rainy contest before the 20 minute mark. Marouane Fellaini replaced the Frenchman, and connected with the cross of fellow longtime Premier League veteran Ashley Young to make it 1-0 in the 35th minute. Romelu Lukaku headed a Daley Blind cross home for the second, and Fellaini teed up Marcus Rashford for the final marker.

Roma 0-0 Atletico Madrid

Alisson made nine saves as Atletico’s 20-11 edge in shots on goal could not translate to an away win.

Benfica 1-2 CSKA Moscow

Haris Seferovic’s 50th minute opener did not hold up long, with Vitinho converting a 63rd minute penalty and Timur Zhamaletdinov breaking the deadlock eight minutes later in Portugal.

Olympiacos 2-3 Sporting Lisbon

Seydou Doumbia put the Portuguese visitors ahead in the second minute. Cape Verde attacker Gelson Martins made it 2-0 just over 10 minutes later, and Bruno Fernandes has also scored for Sporting. Felipe Pardo scored two late concession goals for the hosts.

Bayern Munich 3-0 Anderlecht

As if Bayern needed help from its Belgian visitors, a 11th minute red card to Anderlecht was met by a 12th minute penalty kick goal from Robert Lewandowski. Thiago Alcantara scored in the 65th minute, and Joshua Kimmich scored late in the match.

Celtic 0-5 Paris Saint-Germain

Neymar scored, and set up Kylian Mbappe for another, and Edinson Cavani won and converted a penalty as each member of PSG’s trident (KEN?) have scored at Celtic Park. A Mikael Lustig own goal and second marker from Cavani completed the scoring.

Three Eastern Conference sides on record-setting pace

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2017 saw Toronto FC dominate the MLS regular season before going on to hoist the club’s first MLS Cup in club history.

[ MORE: Whitecaps teen Alphonso Davies nearing Bayern Munich move ]

Fast forward to this season, and three more Eastern Conference sides are poised to break barriers as they continue a near record-setting pace.

Atlanta United, New York City FC and the New York Red Bulls have created a sizable gap over the rest of the East with nearly one-third of the season remaining.

Toronto’s 69-point regular season total a year ago looked like a record that wouldn’t be touched for some time, however, the current trio of dominating forces in the East are all on pace to finish 2018 with 68 points.

Atlanta, NYCFC and the Red Bulls are all averaging two points per game, while Toronto averaged slightly above that total (2.03 ppg) during their MLS Cup-winning run.

The Red Bulls and NYCFC, in particular, could be in line to follow in the footsteps of last season’s Toronto FC.

Manager Chris Armas and the Red Bulls play 10 of their final games against teams outside the current playoff lines in their respective conferences, while Atlanta and NYCFC face five and four playoff teams, respectively.


Here’s a look at how the three teams will finish up the 2018 regular season:

Atlanta United (12 matches)

Montreal Impact, Toronto FC, Columbus Crew, Orlando City, D.C. United, Colorado Rapids, San Jose Earthquakes, Real Salt Lake, New York Red Bulls, New England Revolution, Chicago Fire, Toronto FC

New York City FC (14 matches)

Orlando City, Seattle Sounders, Vancouver Whitecaps, Toronto FC, Philadelphia Union, New York Red Bulls, Columbus Crew, New England Revolution, D.C. United, Montreal Impact, Chicago Fire, Minnesota United, D.C. United, Philadelphia Union

New York Red Bulls (15 matches)

D.C. United, Columbus Crew, Los Angeles FC, Chicago Fire, Vancouver Whitecaps, New York City FC, D.C. United, Houston Dynamo, Montreal Impact, D.C. United, Toronto FC, Atlanta United, San Jose Earthquakes, Philadelphia Union, Orlando City

Mesut Ozil discusses critique of Turkish background

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Germany’s dismissal from the World Cup came as a shock to many, but one of its players received heavier scrutiny for off-the-field actions.

[ MORE: Whitecaps teen Alphonso Davies nearing move to Bayern ]

Arsenal midfielder Mesut Ozil appeared in two of the three group stage matches for the Germans in Russia, however, his play was overshadowed by his meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan prior to the start of the tournament.

The meeting between the two caused several German media outlets to criticize Ozil due to the heated relations between the two European nations.

Additionally, Ozil says his brand was affected as well, with various sponsors pulling their support due to the meeting with Erdogan.

The 29-year-old is of Turkish and German descent, which would have made him eligible to represent either country.

Ozil took to Twitter on Sunday to discuss how the ordeal has affected how the media and sponsorship has affected him over the last month.

Barcelona, Sevilla to play Spanish Super Cup in Morocco

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La Liga champions Barcelona will meet Sevilla in the 2018 Spanish Super Cup in Tangier, Morocco on August 12.

[ MORE: Klopp talks Pulisic, Liverpool spending ]

The Real Federación Española de Fútbol (RFEF) announced the decision on Sunday, as Barca looks to kick off the 2018 season against last year’s Copa Del Rey runners’ up.

Lionel Messi and Co. defeated Sevilla, 5-0, in the 2017/18 Copa Del Rey final, giving the Blaugrana a domestic double for the first time since the 2015/16 campaign.

La Liga play opens up in Spain on August 19, however, the full fixture list will be revealed on Tuesday.

Ibrahimovic: MLS is “lucky I didn’t come 10 years ago”

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Zlatan Ibrahimovic has been a major bright spot, as expected, in his debut season in Major League Soccer.

[ MORE: Whitecaps teen Alphonso Davies nearing Bayern Munich transfer ]

The LA Galaxy striker recorded a goal and an assist in Saturday’s 3-1 win over the Philadelphia Union, raising his goal tally to 12 on the year — which ranks fourth-best in the league.

At the age of 36, Ibrahimovic has shown he’s more than capable of producing as a veteran, but it raises the question: how amazing would he have been in MLS had he joined sooner?

Following the Galaxy’s win over the Union, Ibrahimovic joked with media, suggesting he could have had the entire country in his hand if he had arrived in the United States sooner.

“They’re lucky I didn’t come 10 years ago,” Ibrahimovic said, “because I would be the president today.”