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Champions League wrap: Real breaks out for five, Roma keeps pace

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What a day!

We’ve written it before, but this season’s UEFA Champions League has brought loads of entertainment on nearly every match day.

[ MORE: Kane backs Rooney for captain ]

Wednesday was no different, with last-minute drama in Italy and France.


Bayern Munich 2-0 AEK Athens

Robert Lewandowski scored twice, first with a penalty, then with a header, as the reigning German champions are within a result of the knockout rounds.

Benfica 1-1 Ajax

The Dusan Tadic signing continues to pay dividends, as the Serbian star’s 61st minute goal leveled things in Portugal after Jonas gave Benfica a halftime lead.

Group E
Team GP W D L GF GA GD Home Away PTS
Bayern Munich 4 3 1 0 7 1 6 1-1-0 2-0-0 10
Ajax 4 2 2 0 6 2 4 2-0-0 0-2-0 8
Benfica 4 1 1 2 4 6 -2 0-1-1 1-0-1 4
AEK Athens 4 0 0 4 2 10 -8 0-0-2 0-0-2 0

Manchester City 6-0 Shakhtar Donetsk RECAP

Gabriel Jesus struck for three, including two penalties, as Man City ran all over the visiting Ukrainian powers at the Etihad Stadium. David Silva scored and starred again, as did two-goal man Raheem Sterling.

Lyon 2-2 Hoffenheim

If these two draw each other in any competition, buckle up. After a 3-3 draw in Germany two weeks ago, Lyon opened up a 2-0 lead at halftime through Nabil Fekir and Tanguy Ndombele. But Andrej Kramaric scored in the 65th minute to set up Pavel Kaderabek’s stunning equalizer in stoppage time.

Group F
Team GP W D L GF GA GD Home Away PTS
Manchester City 4 3 0 1 12 3 9 1-0-1 2-0-0 9
Lyon 4 1 3 0 9 8 1 0-2-0 1-1-0 6
1899 Hoffenheim 4 0 3 1 8 9 -1 0-1-1 0-2-0 3
Shakhtar Donetsk 4 0 2 2 4 13 -9 0-1-1 0-1-1 2

CSKA Moscow 1-2 AS Roma

Arnor Sigurdsson’s 50th minute goal briefly gave the hosts level footing following Kostas Manolas’ fourth minute opener, but Lorenzo Pellegrini nabbed a winner for i Lupi in the 59th minute to stay level with Real on nine points.

Viktoria Plzen 0-5 Real Madrid

Santiago Solari’s Champions League debut as manager went pretty well, with Karim Benzema scoring twice en route to a 4-0 halftime lead for Real. Gareth Bale, Casemiro, and Toni Kroos also scored for the group leaders, who visit Rome on Nov. 27.

Group G
Team GP W D L GF GA GD Home Away PTS
Real Madrid 4 3 0 1 10 2 8 2-0-0 1-0-1 9
Roma 4 3 0 1 10 4 6 2-0-0 1-0-1 9
CSKA Moscow 4 1 1 2 4 7 -3 1-0-1 0-1-1 4
Viktoria Plzen 4 0 1 3 3 14 -11 0-1-1 0-0-2 1

Valencia 3-1 Young Boys

Santi Mina scored twice as the Spanish hosts stayed within striking distance of Manchester United.

Juventus 1-2 Manchester UnitedRECAP

Cristiano Ronaldo scored an absolute beauty, which has largely been lost in the sauce of United’s furious five-minute comeback and Jose Mourinho’s mostly hilarious post-match antics (Not sporting? Of course not, but don’t deny us the humor of it). So, wow, here it is:

Group H
Team GP W D L GF GA GD Home Away PTS
Juventus 4 3 0 1 7 2 5 1-0-1 2-0-0 9
Manchester United 4 2 1 1 5 2 3 0-1-1 2-0-0 7
València 4 1 2 1 4 4 0 1-0-1 0-2-0 5
Young Boys 4 0 1 3 2 10 -8 0-1-1 0-0-2 1

Man United hosts Juventus to headline Champions League Tuesday

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The stars align at Old Trafford on Tuesday as Manchester United hosts Juventus at the forefront of the Champions League slate.

Cristiano Ronaldo returns to face his old club and his old manager, while Paul Pogba also takes on his former team as the top spot in Group H is on the line. Ronaldo is back in Champions League action since September 19 when he was controversially sent off, earning a one-match suspension he served in a 3-0 win over Young Boys.

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho told the players after throwing away a late lead against Chelsea to “use the anger to motivate ourselves to play a big match.” They’ll take on a Juventus team that’s slightly banged up, missing Mario Mandzukic, Emre Can and Sami Khedira all out injured. Manchester United also has its own issues, with Alexis Sanchez unavailable with Mourinho confirming he’s “not fit” although no other injury information was given.

Elsewhere on Tuesday, Manchester City travels east to take on Ukranian club Shakhtar Donetsk. Group F is crowded through two matches, with City in second a point behind Olympique Lyon at the top. Kevin De Bruyne is in the squad after returning from injury over the weekend, coming off the bench for 32 minutes of Premier League play against Burnley. They’ll look to attack a Shakhtar defense that choked away a 2-0 lead against Lyon last time out. City has Kyle Walker available as well, announced as part of the matchday squad.

Bayern Munich visits AEK Athens having returned to winning ways over the weekend with a 3-1 victory over Wolfsburg. It’s a welcome sight for Niko Kovac, who was under fire for a terrible stretch of games, but now the Bavarians have a positive result to take with them on the road. Robert Lewandowski and James Rodriguez were both on the scoresheet, with the Polish international grabbing a brace.

Ajax takes on Benfica in Amsterdam as the Dutch side looks to extend its lead at the top of Group E. They’re tied with Bayern on points, but hold a slightly superior goal differential. Since falling to PSV Eindhoven in Eredivisie play, they have blown out Fortuna Sittard, AZ Alkmaar, and Heerenveen 11-0 over their last three games. Klaas-Jan Huntelaar already has 10 goals this season across all competitions, and former Southampton attacker Dusan Tadic is right behind him with 9.

Real Madrid has its best chance to turn around the poor run of play as they host Czech club Viktoria Plzen. Madrid has not won since September 22, a run of five matches that consists of four defeats. The club broke a scoreless streak of over 450 minutes last time out in a 2-1 loss to Levante, but the pressure has only increased on head coach Julen Lopetegui.

Other matches

Young Boys vs Valencia
AS Roma vs CSKA Moscow
Hoffenheim vs Lyon

UEFA Nations League: Italy draws at home, Cheryshev scores again

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The UEFA Nations League continued on Friday, and there was a clear competitive edge to the matches, moreso than the usual friendly contested between to nations during an otherwise meaningless international break.

Italy was forced to come from behind to earn a point at home against Poland in a 1-1 draw. Mario Balotelli earned his first competitive appearance since 2014, but young goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma was needed early to keep out Piotr Zielinski in the opening 15 minutes who broke free on goal.

Italy had a spell of attacking possession on the half-hour mark, but it came to nothing, and they were punished for it. Mateusz Klich dispossessed Chelsea midfielder Jorginho in the Italy third, and Robert Lewandowski’s cross fell to an unmarked Zielinski at the back post who finished easily for the 1-0 first-half lead. The Italians proved dangerous in the second half, and they earned an equalizer. Federico Chiesa came on in place of Lorenzo Insigne, and he was immediately effective. He earned a penalty with 14 minutes to go on a tackle by Jakub Blaszczykowski, who was lucky to stay on the field, already on a yellow from early in the match. Jorginho struck from the spot to level the score.

Russia traveled to Trabzon to take on Turkey, but it was the visitors who scored first, and a familiar name at that. Denis Cheryshev, who was massively influential in Russia’s surprising run at the World Cup over the summer, struck in the 13th minute with a powerful left-footed volley to put Russia 1-0 up. Before halftime, the hosts leveled as Galatasaray defender Serdar Aziz with a volleyed howitzer of his own. Russia retook the lead after the break through Artem Dyzuba

Romania drew Montenegro 0-0, although it wasn’t without controversy as Aleksandar Boljevic was brought down in the penalty area after just eight minutes, but no call was made. Romania had a few chances before the break, but otherwise there was little to speak of. Montenegro striker Stefan Mugosa was sent off for a second yellow with 13 minutes to go.

Aleksandr Mitrovic earned a penalty and Dusan Tadic scored from the spot as Serbia took down Lithuania on the road 1-0. Albania topped Israel 1-0 on a goal by Taulant Xhaka, the brother of Arsenal midfielder and Swiss international Granit Xhaka. The Faroe Islands topped Malta 3-1 for a big win, the country’s second win in a row and third in its last six matches.

UCL playoff preview: Ajax, Benfica, PSV looking for group stage spot

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The Champions League is nearly back to the apex of its competition, as the final playoff round gets set for its finale and the group stage looks for its final participants. There are only six spaces left among the group stage participants, and some big-name clubs will take the field for their matchup’s second leg.

Dutch giants Ajax are in a solid position, up 3-1 over Dynamo Kiev after the home leg and now hit the road to Ukraine hoping to wrap things up on Tuesday. They have been scoring at will of late, coming off a 5-0 demolition of Eredivisie minnows FC Emmen. They have scored 20 goals over their last eight matches across all competitions, with 35-year-old Klass-Jan Huntelaar owning six of those and former Southampton man Dusan Tadic owning five.

[ MORE: 7 young players who could earn England debut ]

Kiev, meanwhile, has been quite the opposite. Through five matches in Ukranian Premier League play, Kiev has scored just five goals, but has conceded just one, sitting third in the league table with 13 points, although they have a game in hand on those above them and remain the only unbeaten team remaining in league play.

Croatian club Dinamo Zagreb and Swiss champs Young Boys are both level at 1-1 heading to the second leg in Zagreb. The home side will hope for a better start than in the first leg, when Young Boys grabbed the opener just two minutes into the match.

Also on Tuesday, Greek side AEK Athens takes a 2-1 lead back home over Hungarian club MOL Vidi.

On Wednesday, another Dutch club looks to seal up a lead, as PSV Eindhoven returns home with a 3-2 advantage over Belarusian club BATE Borisov in tow. They led 2-1 late in the first leg, and the game finished wildly as BATE equalized in the 88th minute before PSV retook the lead just a minute later. The three away goals are all massive, as is coming home with a lead of any kind. PSV has participated in the Champions League group stage in two of the last three seasons, reaching the knockout stage in 2015/16.

Portuguese giants Benfica sit in a precarious position, heading out on the road to visit Greek side PAOK with that matchup level at 1-1. Benfica held a lead on a goal just before halftime, but they conceded a scrappy away goal in the 76th minute on a set-piece.

Finally, Red Bull Salzburg hosts Red Star Belgrade after a 0-0 first leg in Serbia.

Champions League wrap: Tadic keeps Ajax rolling

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Three more playoff round first legs took focus in the UEFA Champions League on Wednesday, and it was another good day for two of three road teams.

[ MORE: Tuesday’s UCL wrap ]

Ajax 3-1 Dynamo Kiev

The Dutch hosts built a 3-1 halftime lead on goals by Donny van de Beek, Hakim Ziyech, and red-hot ex-Southampton attacker Dusan Tadic.

Tadic now has four goals and three assists in seven appearances this season.

Dynamo will find some comfort in the 16th minute away goal from Tomasz Kedziora.

MOL Vidi 1-2 AEK Athens

A 23rd minute red card had the Hungarian hosts down to 10-men, and both Viktor Klonaridis and Tasos Bakasetos scored before the latter took a red of his own in the 53rd.

The artists formerly known as Videoton pulled one back through Danko Lazovic in the 68th minute.

Young Boys 1-1 Dinamo Zagreb

Ex-Newcastle and Watford man Kevin Mbabu scored a second minute goal for the Swiss side, though Mislav Orsic answered for the visitors just before halftime.