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Man City midfield controls Shakhtar in Ukraine

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Manchester City got its UEFA Champions League run off to a convincing start, easing some nerves from the weekend with a 3-0 defeat of Shakhtar Donetsk in Ukraine on Wednesday.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Riyad Mahrez and Ilkay Gundogan set each other up for goals, Gabriel Jesus also scored, and Fernandinho partnered with Nicolas Otamendi at center back to earn the clean sheet.


Three things we learned

1. Midfield runs the match: Center backs aren’t all that vital if the ball never gets to them, and Ilkay Gundogan and Rodri were exceptional (even with the latter taking an early yellow card). Rodri completed every single one of his 82 passes in helping City control the park, departing with less than a quarter-hour to play. Pep Guardiola had a lot of love for Gundogan’s day.

2. De Bruyne dangerous on an off day: Kevin De Bruyne just couldn’t find that final ball, constantly in dangerous areas but unable to execute that moment. Credited with three key passes including th, his shooting was the glaring difference between 3-0 and 5-0.

3. Shakhtar shows creative flair: Taison and Marlos both showed a knack for taking on defenders, each credited with four dribbles on the day. It was Shakhtar’s best chance to break down a disciplined City, and the closest the hosts came to succeeding on the day.

Man of the Match: Rodri


A Kevin De Bruyne free kick provided an early threat, but Rodri’s header was a bit off and unable to open the scoring in Ukraine.

Shakhtar then had a nice spell of possession, but City was up to the task. Rodri led a chance in the other direction and sent a ball back De Bruyne for a header, which was wide like the first.

Mahrez put City ahead on a rebound after Ilkay Gundogan took a Gabriel Jesus feed and pushed the ball off the post.

The Algerian didn’t need a post to return the favor, sending a delightful pass into the path of Gundogan for a smooth finish an 2-0.

De Bruyne finally got his assist when he took care of a bounding ball to Jesus for a chop into the goal.

UCL AT HALF: Marsch’s Salzburg rolling; Champions holding firm; Chelsea’s Mount hurt

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We’ve got news after 45 minutes of six more UCL matches, including a big injury at Stamford Bridge and a monumental start for an American in Austria.

[ UCL: Scores, lineups, stats, box scores ]

Chelsea 0-0 Valencia

No goals to report here, but early season hero Mason Mount has left the match with an injury for the Blues. He was not replaced by Christian Pulisic, rather Pedro.

Liverpool 0-0 Napoli

It’s been a pretty even affair, though Liverpool can thank Adrian for a pair of great saves on Dries Mertens before Hirving “Chucky” Lozano’s goal was ruled offside.

Red Bull Salzburg 5-1 Genk

Jesse Marsch is now officially the first American man to manage a team in a UEFA Champions League game.

The Red Bull Salzburg boss is also the first to hold a second minute lead, as red hot striker Erling Braut Haland scored his 15th, 16th, and 17th goals in nine matches under Marsch.

Haland also five assists on the season, having entered Tuesday’s match with 658 minutes across all competitions.

Haland is the son of former Leeds, Man City, and Nottingham Forest manager Alf-Inge Haland.

Hwang-Hee Chan has Salzburg’s other goal, and two assists.

Elsewhere

Inter Milan 1-1 Slavia Prague — RECAP
Lyon 1-1 Zenit Saint-Petersburg
Borussia Dortmund 0-0 Barcelona
Ajax 1-0 Lille
Benfica 0-0 RB Leipzig

Sevilla go top of La Liga with 1-0 win at Alaves

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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) A masterfully taken free kick by Sevilla midfielder Joan Jordan earned a 1-0 victory at Alaves and lifted his team to the top of the standings in the Spanish league on Sunday.

Jordan struck a dipping free kick over the defensive wall that goalkeeper Fernando Pacheco could only watch land in his net in the 38th minute.

[ MORE: Everton wasting opportunity ]

Jordan, who joined Sevilla from Eibar before the season, also scored in a 1-0 win at Granada in round two.

Sevilla didn’t threaten Alaves again, but both sides’ defenses and the heavy rain made the rest of the match a pedestrian slugfest.

The match ended with a small scuffle that earned bookings for a pair of players on each team.

Coach Julen Lopetegui, who was fired by both Spain’s national team and Real Madrid during a turbulent 2018, has made an impressive start in Seville. Sevilla is undefeated in four rounds after also winning at Espanyol and drawing with Celta Vigo.

Next weekend Lopetegui’s Sevilla will host Madrid.

The win at Alaves pushed Sevilla into first place. Atletico Madrid is one point behind, followed by Real Madrid and Athletic Bilbao two points back. Defending champion Barcelona and Real Sociedad are three points off the pace.

FIRST GOALS

Espanyol scored its first goals of the season and got its first win after fighting back for a 2-1 victory at Eibar.

Facundo Ferreyra and Esteban Granero scored in the final 15 minutes to pull off the comeback.

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

WATCH: Newcastle’s Willems thunders opener at Liverpool

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Newcastle United’s bid to beat another Premier League giant on the road is off to a good start.

The Magpies took an eighth minute lead over Liverpool on a sensational goal from Jetro Willems.

[ STREAM LIVE: Liverpool v. Newcastle ]

The Eintracht Frankfurt loanee’s shot earned a fitting descriptor on the NBCSN broadcast: Piledriver.

Christian Atsu continued his fine early season form by settling a long ball over the top and spotting Willems run down the left flank.

Willems shook Trent Alexander-Arnold and then stepped over the ball before crushing it past a flying Adrian.

Bayern’s Davies smashes lone goal as Canada bests Cuba again

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Alphonso Davies may just be getting a taste of success in the Bundesliga, but the Bayern Munich standout is already running roughshod over the minnows of CONCACAF.

[ MORE: USMNT match recapPlayer ratings ]

Canada sits safe of relegation in the CONCACAF Nations League after Davies hit a bullet inside the near post in a 1-0 win over Cuba on Tuesday in Havana.

His ninth minute goal power the Canucks to a 1-0 win which might’ve been more lopsided had Doneil Henry not been sent off in the 55th minute.

Davies, 18, didn’t score in Saturday’s leg north of the border, as Canada was led by a Junior Hoilett hat trick in a 6-0 thumping of Cuba. Jonathan Osorio had a goal and two assists in that one.

He now has four goals and eight assists in 15 caps, which is nice.

Elsewhere, 10-man Haiti drew Curacao 1-1. Curacao beat the Haitians 1-0 at home on Saturday.