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Champions League wrap: Mbappe, Neymar on fire; Atleti, Atalanta advance

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The UEFA Champions League’s Round of 16 contestants are confirmed after Atletico Madrid and Atalanta made sure only teams from the top five leagues in Europe made the jump.

[ RECAPS: D. Zagreb 1-4 Man City | Bayern 3-1 Spurs ]

What does that mean for the four Premier League sides? Here’s who they can draw.

As for a recap of Wednesday’s action and some fun highlights, read on…

Club Brugge 1-3 Real Madrid

All the goals came in the second half here, as Rodrygo and Vinicius Junior scored before Luka Modric rounded out the markers in stoppage time. Hans Vanaken scored for the Belgian set, which again used Simon Mignolet between the sticks knowing Galatasaray could’ve passed them with a win.

Olympiacos 1-0 Red Star Belgrade

Longtime Moroccan striker Youssef El-Arabi scored the lone goal as the Greeks moved into third place and a Europa League spot.

Shakhtar Donetsk 0-3 Atalanta

The Serie A side surged past their Ukrainian hosts, who saw star right back Dodo sent off. Three different players scored for the visitors, with Mario Pasalic and Robin Gosens leading the way. Timothy Castagne scored Atalanta’s first goal.

Paris Saint-Germain 5-0 Galatasaray

Kylian Mbappe and Neymar each had a goal and two assists, while Mauro Icardi, Edinson Cavani, and Pablo Sarabia also scored for the hosts.

Atletico Madrid 2-0 Lokomotiv Moscow

Lokomotiv keeper Anton Kochenkov pushed a Kieran Trippier penalty off the post in the first few minutes of the contest, but Joao Felix converted Atleti’s second chance from the spot as Diego Simeone’s team handled its business to reach the Round of 16. Felipe scored the side’s other goal via a Koke assist.

Bayer Leverkusen 0-2 Juventus

Atleti would’ve made it through anyway, as Bayer couldn’t spring an upset on group winners Juve. Cristiano Ronaldo and Gonzalo Higuain scored the goals in Germany.

Swiss prosecutors quiz PSG president in FIFA bribery case

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GENEVA — Paris Saint-Germain president Nasser al-Khelaifi was questioned again by Swiss federal prosecutors on Monday, and will seek to have a two-year investigation into allegations he bribed a FIFA official dismissed.

The office of Switzerland’s attorney general said Al-Khelaifi, former FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke, and a businessman who has not been identified presented themselves for questioning in the Swiss capital.

Final examination hearings were held ahead of decisions on “whether the proceedings are abandoned or a summary penalty order is issued or an indictment is filed,” the prosecution office said.

Criminal proceedings were opened against the three men in March 2017 and unsealed later that year before they were questioned for a first time in Bern.

In his role as chairman of Qatari broadcaster beIN Sports, Al-Khelaifi is alleged to have arranged for Valcke to use a luxury villa in Italy linked to sealing broadcast rights deal for the 2026 and 2030 World Cups.

“Valcke is believed to have accepted undue advantages from his two co-suspects,” prosecutors said on Monday. “In particular, the co-suspect Al-Khelaifi allegedly gave Valcke the sole rent-free use of a property.”

BeIN Sports renewed its Middle East and North African rights for those tournaments. It bought the 2018 and 2022 rights soon after FIFA picked Qatar as the 2022 tournament host exactly nine years ago on Monday.

“The principal allegation against Mr. Al-Khelaifi … has no single basis in law or fact,” beIN said in a statement on Monday.

“For this reason a motion to dismiss proceedings will be filed by Mr. Al-Khelaifi’s lawyers this week.”

BeIN said the price it paid for the 2026-2030 games – reportedly close to 500 million euros ($550 million), a record for the Middle East rights – showed that no favorable deal was struck.

Al-Khelaifi and Valcke have repeatedly denied wrongdoing, and Swiss prosecutors said they enjoy the presumption of innocence.

Since the criminal proceedings were opened, the PSG president was elected oto represent European soccer clubs on the executive committee of UEFA. It meets on Wednesday in Nyon, Switzerland.

On Monday, Swiss prosecutors declined to predict a timeline for their work, which it called “dynamic processes, which are not influenced by the (Swiss attorney general’s office) alone.”

In a separate investigation, French prosecutors have implicated Al-Khelaifi in “active corruption” linked to payments allegedly helping Doha win hosting rights for the athletics world championships. He has denied wrongdoing.

Mbappe returns, scores as PSG beats 9-man Nice 4-1

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NICE, France (AP) Angel Di Maria scored twice and Kylian Mbappe marked his return from injury with a goal as Paris Saint-Germain stretched its lead in the French league with a 4-1 win at nine-man Nice on Friday.

Di Maria got the visitors off to a flying start in the first half before Mbappe sealed the win in the 83rd minute after the home side had two players sent off. Mbappe also set up Mauro Icardi for PSG’s fourth goal in injury time.

[ MORE: Interview with Claudio Reyna ]

Mbappe, who recently missed a month with a thigh injury, hadn’t played since suffering a reaction to his original injury in Champions League win over Galatasaray on Oct. 1.

The win lifts PSG five points clear of Nantes ahead of the rest of the 10th round of matches.

Di Maria opened the scoring in the 15th minute after being sent through all alone from the halfway line by Icardi as Nice’s defenders all pushed up. The Argentine stayed cool with only goalkeeper Walter Benitez to beat and picked his spot inside the far corner.

Di Maria’s second goal six minutes later was even better as he lifted the ball over Benitez with his first touch from a difficult angle.

Marquinhos replaced Brazilian compatriot Thiago Silva for the second half and struck the crossbar with a header from a corner.

A Marquinhos mistake – made while attempting a backpass to Presnel Kimpembe – allowed Ignatius Ganago to pull one back for Nice in the 67th.

But the home side’s hope of an equalizer were hit in the 74th when Wylan Cyprien was sent off with a second yellow card after he criticized the referee for not awarding a foul against him.

Christophe Herelle followed Cyprien off minutes later with a straight red after the video referee picked up a slap he gave Leandro Paredes, who fell theatrically to the ground.

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

Buffon chasing Juve finale “in less important role”

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Gianluigi “Gigi” Buffon thought his chance for a fairytale ending disappeared, but may still claim the last jewel for his crown.

Buffon’s Champions League campaigns have ended at the hands of Real Madrid and Manchester United the past two seasons, the latter at PSG, but the legendary keeper still has something left in the tank after returning to Juventus this season.

[ MORE: Neymar injured again ]

“I felt the need to have that experience in Paris, to go outside my comfort zone,” Buffon told Football-Italia. “There was no guarantee that would go well, but the fact that it did made me a more complete person.

“However, at a certain point, I felt the call of home and family. Being back two weekends per month wasn’t enough for me. I decided to return to Turin, but that wasn’t the only reason. It was like closing a perfect circle with the teammates of a lifetime, albeit in a less important role than the one I had before.”

Buffon won Ligue 1 with PSG last season, his first outside Juve since arriving from Parma in 2001.

Buffon says “it’s a source of pride” that Juve gave him another chance at age 41, where he’s spelling Wojciech Szczesny

“I don’t feel that I’ve given all I can, not the full 100 per cent. Maybe I am missing that 15 per cent I need for the grand finale of this career.”

Neymar scores late again in PSG win

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Paris Saint-Germain fans may have to return to liking Neymar again.

For the second consecutive Ligue 1 match, Neymar scored late to give PSG all three points in a massive 1-0 win at Lyon. With the win, PSG moved into a three-point lead in the Ligue 1 table.

[READ: Lampard explains why Pulisic has remained on the bench]

After being involved in the buildup in the 87th minute, Neymar found a pocket of space at the top of the box. After receiving the ball and facing up his defenders, he made a quick move to his left, took two steps and fired a strike into the low far corner to put PSG in front.

PSG fans have come out pretty clearly since the summer when news reports surrounding Neymar and his camp made it clear he preferred to leave PSG for a return to Barcelona. It appeared he was willing to give up on his dream to lead the line and be a new star for a team in another league, but the transfer never happened, mainly for financial reasons.

And yet, despite missing most of preseason recovering from his ankle injury suffered on international duty, Neymar returned to the side for coach Thomas Tuchel and has scored two massive goals to help earn PSG six points.

To Neymar’s credit, it appears he’s put his head down since the end of the transfer window and is working hard for his club and his teammates. Despite his hatred from fans and general observers for some of his on-the-field and off-the-field antics, he seems to have the trust of his PSG teammates, and there were many reports that Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi were the ones pushing for Neymar to come back from within Barcelona.

Even if he can’t win over some PSG fans for threatening to leave the club, more goals like these will certainly endear him to fans who may have been indifferent over the transfer saga.

Watch the goal below: