Champions League

Manchester City, on Tuesday night, overcame an early scare to get their UEFA Champions League defence off to a solid start, defeating Red Star Belgrade 3-1 at Etihad Stadium.

Barcelona cruised past Antwerp while France forward, Kylian Mbappe, helped Paris-Saint Germain (PSG) to an opening win on a breathless beginning to the group stage of Europe’s top club competition.

Newcastle returned to Champions League for the first time in two decades with a battling goalless draw against AC Milan at the San Siro and Lazio grabbed an equaliser deep in injury time to hold Atletico Madrid.

In Manchester, Pep Guardiola’s City were stunned when Red Star’s Osman Bukari opened the scoring in first-half stoppage time.

But Julian Alvarez continued his sparkling early season form by levelling just two minutes after the break.

The Argentine then got some help from Red Star goalkeeper, Omri Glazer, as he flapped at Alvarez’s free-kick to allow the ball to fly into the far corner.

Rodri rounded off a 3-1 win with a composed finish 17 minutes from time.

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City are next away to RB Leipzig, who share top place in Group E after a 3-1 win at Swiss champions, Young Boys.

In Catalonia, Joao Felix struck twice as Barcelona flexed their muscles with a crushing 5-0 win over Royal Antwerp to show their determination to be considered among Europe’s elite once again.

After consecutive humiliating group stage eliminations, Barcelona are desperate to go deep in this season’s competition, last winning it eight years ago.

Felix shone for the Spanish champions on a stroll on a warm night in the Catalan capital, helped on their way by an own goal, with Robert Lewandowski and Gavi also scoring.

That lifted them top of the Champions League Group H from Porto, 3-1 winners over Shakhtar Donetsk.

Barca’s victory followed a 5-0 thrashing of Real Betis on Saturday, leading coach Xavi Hernandez to say: “I think these last two games are the best level we have shown with me as coach – it’s the path to follow.”

At Parc des Princes, PSG may have lost Neymar and Lionel Messi over the summer but they held on to Mbappe who set them up for a 2-0 victory over Borussia Dortmund.

The French champions went ahead four minutes after the break when Mbappe scored a spot-kick awarded for a Niklas Suele handball.

Achraf Hakimi added the second goal for PSG in the Champions League Group F encounter.

PSG’s next date is at Newcastle, whose manager, Eddie Howe, was proud of his side’s dogged return to the competition against seven-time European kings AC Milan.

In Rotterdam, a “bitterly disappointed” Celtic manager, Brendan Rodgers, was left to rue the “inexperience” of two players sent off in their 2-0 loss to Feyenoord but said the Scottish champions had proved they could be competitive.

Midway through the second half, defender Gustaf Lagerbielke was shown a second yellow card after pulling back Brazilian striker, Igor Paixao, in the box.

He was barely down the tunnel when substitute Odin Thiago Holm also saw red for a studs-up late challenge.

On Wednesday, record 14-time winners, Real Madrid, host German debutants Union Berlin, while Bayern Munich with Harry Kane welcome Manchester United who are seeking solace in Europe after a troubling start to the Premier League season.

The Star



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