AP Photo/Peter Dejong

Champions League wrap: Insanity between Bayern, Ajax; Lyon advances

Leave a comment

Most of the knockout rounds spots were decided before a ball was kicked on Wednesday, but it was another wild day of UEFA Champions League play across Europe.

[ MORE: Who can PL clubs draw in UCL? ]

That includes Thomas Muller’s terrible red card and a number of beautiful goals — Hi, Nabil Fekir — as the group stage concluded with eight matches.

Benfica 1-0 AEK Athens

Grimaldo’s 88th minute goal kept AEK from getting its first point of the group stage.

Ajax 3-3 Bayern Munich

There was one goal in the first hour, and five in the final 30 minutes, as the winner of Group E changed several times on the night.

Robert Lewandowski’s 13th minute goal gave Bayern a halftime lead, but Dusan Tadic scored in the 61st and 82nd minutes to put Ajax atop the group… for five minutes.

Lewandowski completed his brace to restore the tie and Bayern’s lead, then Kingsley Coman made it academic in the 90th.

The game being what it was, with both teams finishing with 10 men thanks to Thomas Muller and Max Wober being sent off, Nicolas Tagliafico gave Ajax a point with an equalizer in the fifth minute of stoppage time.

Muller, WYD?

Man City 2-1 HoffenheimRECAP

Aymeric Laporte conceded an early penalty, but Leroy Sane was electric all night long in producing a brace en route to a 2-1 win and the group crown.

Shakhtar Donetsk 1-1 Lyon

Junior Moraes’ 22nd minute goal looked set to send the Ukranian side into the knockout rounds, but it’ll instead be headed for the Europa League thanks to Nabil Fekir’s wonderful 65th minute goal.

Real Madrid 0-3 CSKA MoscowRECAP

Georgi Schennikov, Arnor Sigurdsson, and Fedor Chalov all scored as Real Madrid’s second choice side suffered its worst home loss in UCL history.

Viktoria Plzen 2-1 AS Roma

Jan Kovarik and Tomas Chory scored for the home victors in the 62nd and 72nd minutes as the match’s three goals all came in 10-minute span, as Viktoria Plzen prepares for the drop into Europa League. Roma’s Cenzig Under scored his third goal of the group stage and second against Viktoria Plzen.

Valencia 2-1 Manchester United — RECAP

Phil Jones‘ disastrous own goal was the difference as Valencia built a two-goal lead and held on to beat United despite Marcus Rashford‘s late pullback.

Young Boys 2-1 Juventus

Two goals for 34-year-old forward Guillaume Hoarau paced the Swiss side to a feel-good upset of Juve. Paolo Dybala scored for the visitors.

French games postponed because of expected protests

Getty Images
Leave a comment

PARIS (AP) Two French league matches scheduled for Saturday have been postponed amid expected anti-government protests.

The affected games are Paris Saint-Germain against Montpellier and Toulouse against Lyon.

In both cases, the French league says authorities requested the postponement. It says the matches will be rescheduled.

The government is grappling with widespread protests against fuel taxes and other grievances, with Paris plagued by rioting last weekend.

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/apf-Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Pep pleased as scrappy Man City moves on

Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Pep Guardiola was pretty happy with his Manchester City after they came back from 1-0 and 2-1 deficits to draw Lyon on Tuesday and earn a spot in the UEFA Champions League knockout rounds.

[ RECAP: Lyon 2-2 Man City ]

“Always you think ‘how will we react in that situation?’ [going behind] and always we have shown a huge personality,” he said. “We did it. We were strong in this situation.”

Aymeric Laporte and Sergio Aguero were the goal scorers for City, which is atop Lyon by three points and five ahead of Shakhtar Donetsk.

Lyon is the only team to beat City this year, and the French side has taken 4 of 6 points home and away.

“People say the French league is just PSG, PSG – people all the time say that, but people are so wrong. Always in my career when I play against French teams always, they are so physical. That’s why they are World Cup winners.

“All of them are so strong; They’re fast and it is so complicated. That’s why I give a lot of credit on our performance today. The Champions League is so complicated. Important teams like, for example, Inter, or Tottenham or Liverpool or Napoli or PSG…one of them will be out. That shows how tough it is.”

City was certainly missing Kevin De Bruyne on Tuesday, and the match had a breakneck feel. The point was a solid one for Pep’s men.

Man City clinches Champions League knockout round berth

Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images
Leave a comment
  • Lyon takes 5 of 6 pts from City
  • City clinches knockout round spot
  • Laporte, Aguero score equalizers

Aymeric Laporte and Sergio Aguero each scored as Manchester City overcame a pair of Maxwel Cornet goals to reach the UEFA Champions League knockout rounds with a 2-2 draw at Lyon on Tuesday.

City will host Hoffenheim in the final group stage match, but will likely show a second-choice side as the match in sandwiched between Premier League encounters against Chelsea and Everton.

[ MORE: Champions League standings ]

Lyon had two big early chances, the more alarming when Maxwel Cornet’s faulty first touch while unmarked atop the six allowed Aymeric Laporte to block his shot for a corner.

Cornet hit the frame in the 43rd minute with a bounding scissor kick. Man City came through with a good chance just before halftime, as  Anthony Lopes stretched to collect Riyad Mahrez‘s low effort.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Cornet made amends for his early miss with a thriller of a finish in the 55th minute, giving Lyon a deserved advantage.

A quick restart put memphis Memphis Depay atop the 18, and his cross to the other side of the box was settled by Cornet. His long distance shot to a slight turn around a flying Ederson to make it 1-0.

Sergio Aguero saw a 58th minute header saved by Lopes as City found a moment, and Laporte got his equalizer when David Silva passed the ball across goal. The header was far from simple, as Laporte craned his neck to power a header past Lopes.

The Lyon goalkeeper nearly spilled a rebound over the line within a minute, but it remained 1-1.

But Cornet did it again, shouldering off Laporte to beat Ederson off a terrific through ball.

That’s when Man City answered a second time, with Aguero’s remarkable header off a Mahrez corner kick leaving Lopes out to dry.

UEFA Champions League preview: Manchester rivals can advance

(Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images)
Leave a comment

Matchday 5 of the group stage begins Tuesday, with Groups E through H holding a possibility of nearly every knockout round berth getting sewn up.

[ MORE: Newcastle wins again ]

Two Premier League clubs are included in that group, with Manchester City and Manchester United in different boats.

United needs a win over visiting Young Boys and Valencia to drop points at Juventus. Both of those possibilities are very real, though Young Boys managed a home draw with Valencia in addition to its blowouts losses.

Jose Mourinho is cranking up the pressure. Will his players thrive under it?

City is through with a win at Lyon, though a draw and Hoffenheim dropping points at home to Shakhtar Donetsk would also do the trick. Pep Guardiola insists that it isn’t about avenging City’s only loss of the season, but isn’t it?

[ MORE: JPW’s UCL predictions ]

Bayern Munich and Ajax can clinch spots coming out of Group E with a point each against Benfica and AEK Athens.

And in Group G, Real Madrid and Roma will either kickoff already safe or tangle knowing the winner is through while a loser could find trouble on the final day (though both are at home on Matchday 6).

Full schedule

AEK Athens vs. Ajax — 12:55 p.m. ET
CSKA Moscow vs. Viktoria Plzen — 12:55 p.m. ET
Roma vs. Real Madrid — 3 p.m. ET
Lyon vs. Man City — 3 p.m. ET
Juventus vs. Valencia — 3 p.m. ET
Manchester United vs. Young Boys — 3 p.m. ET
Bayern Munich vs. Benfica — 3 p.m. ET
Hoffenheim vs. Shakhtar Donetsk — 3 p.m. ET