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Real Madrid, Atletico into Champions League last 16 as PSG win suspended game

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Karim Benzema sent Real Madrid through to the last 16 of the Champions League on Wednesday alongside their rivals Atletico, while Neymar scored a hat-trick as Paris Saint-Germain beat Istanbul Basaksehir in a match that was delayed for 24 hours over a racism row

Real Madrid are Europe’s most decorated club with 13 European Cups but they needed to beat Borussia Moenchengladbach in Madrid to be sure of making it through the group stage of the Champions League for a 24th straight year.

Benzema was their hero, easing the pressure on coach Zinedine Zidane with two fine back-post headers in the first half securing a 2-0 win in a game played behind closed doors at the Alfredo di Stefano Stadium.

“Each match is a final and I think that if we always play how we did today, no team can hurt us,” said Benzema, who has played in four Champions League final wins with Real in the last seven seasons.

The Frenchman also hit the bar in the second half and in the end it was a result that suited both teams, with a 0-0 draw between Inter Milan and Shakhtar Donetsk allowing Real to top Group B and Gladbach, former European Cup runners-up, to go through as runners-up.

Players from the German club gathered around smartphones and laptops after fulltime in Madrid to follow events in Milan, where a winner for either team would have knocked Gladbach out.

They celebrated wildly when their qualification was confirmed.

“Moments like that live long in the memory. It was absolutely incredible and the joy was uncontainable,” said Gladbach midfielder Christoph Kramer.

INTER FAIL AGAIN

Shakhtar go into the Europa League while Inter finish bottom of their group, failing to reach the last 16 for a third season running.

Meanwhile Atletico needed to beat Red Bull Salzburg in Austria to qualify as runners-up in Group A behind Bayern Munich, and did so with Mario Hermoso and Yannick Carrasco scoring in a 2-0 victory.

“I think in the nine years we’ve been here, we have reached the last 16 eight times,” said Atletico coach Diego Simeone.

“I enjoy looking back at that. Lots of people will say it’s just normal for us but I don’t think it’s normal.”

Salzburg now go into the Europa League while reigning European champions Bayern completed the group stage unbeaten as Niklas Suele and Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting gave them a 2-0 win over Lokomotiv Moscow.

ATALANTA THROUGH

The other team to clinch qualification on Wednesday was Atalanta, whose 1-0 win away to Ajax secured second place in Group D behind Liverpool and a last-16 spot for the second year running.

Luis Muriel scored a late winner for Atalanta in Amsterdam after Ryan Gravenberch was sent off for the hosts, who drop into the Europa League.

Already through, Liverpool were able to give a chance to several younger players in their 1-1 draw with Midtjylland in Denmark, where Mohamed Salah put the 2019 winners ahead early on but Alexander Scholz’s penalty gave the hosts an honourable draw.

NEYMAR HAT-TRICK

PSG had wrapped up their qualification for the last 16 on Tuesday thanks to Manchester United’s defeat at RB Leipzig, despite their own game being suspended after an unprecedented walkout.

Both sets of players refused to continue after a row erupted over an alleged racist remark by the fourth official aimed at Basaksehir’s assistant coach, Pierre Webo.

With a new set of officials, the game restarted in the 14th minute on Wednesday and an irresistible Neymar scored a hat-trick while also winning a penalty converted by Kylian Mbappe.

That was Mbappe’s first Champions League goal in 12 months, and he scored again later on after Mehmet Topal pulled one back. With their 5-1 victory, PSG go through as group winners.

Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City made it five wins and a draw in Group D as they eased to a 3-0 victory against Marseille with Ferran Torres and Sergio Aguero getting second-half goals before an Alvaro Gonzalez own goal.

Also already qualified, Porto beat Olympiakos 2-0 in Piraeus courtesy of Otavio’s early penalty and a Matheus Uribe goal. The Greeks, who ended with 10 men, finish third in the section.

The draw for the last 16 is on Monday.

– supersport.com

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Europa: Mourinho’s Roma lose 6-1 to Norway’s Bodo/Glimt

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Jose Mourinho oversees one of the heaviest defeats of his managerial career as Roma lose 6-1 to Norwegian Bodo/Glimt in the Europa Conference League.

On a night when Tottenham suffered a shock defeat at Vitesse, former Spurs boss Jose Mourinho was having an even worse time.

The Portuguese endured one of the heaviest defeats of his managerial career – and certainly the most surprising – as his Roma side were thrashed 6-1 by Bodo/Glimt in the Europa Conference League.

Roma trailed just 2-1 at the break after the Norwegian champions struck through Erik Botheim and Patrick Berg’s curler, while Carles Perez replied with a clinical effort.

Mourinho made three changes at the start of the second half and another two on the hour mark after Bodo/Glimt added a third with Botheim tapping in from close range.

But there was more misery for Mourinho and Roma as Ola Solbakken’s fine solo goal made it 4-1 before Amahl Pellegrino added a fifth and Solbakken claimed his second.

It is the first time a Mourinho side has conceded six or more goals in a single game in what was the 1,008th match of his coaching career.

It sits alongside the 5-0 loss his Real Madrid side suffered against Barcelona in 2010 as one of the biggest defeats for Mourinho as a manager.

“I decided to play with this line-up, so the responsibility is mine,” he told Sky Sport Italia.

“I did it with good intentions, to give an opportunity to those who work hard and to rotate the squad on a synthetic pitch in cold weather.

“I never disguised the fact we were a squad with real limitations. We have 13 players who represent one team, the others are on a different level.

“We lost against a team that showed more quality on the night. It’s that simple.”

BBC

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Patrice Evra: I’m sick of giving the Ballon D’or to Messi

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Patrice Evra has admitted that he is tired of watching Lionel Messi win the Ballon d’Or, and the current Paris Saint-Germain star has done it six times in his career.

This year’s 2021 Ballon d’Or race looks more open than it used to be, with Evra even named Chelsea team N’Golo Kante and Jorginho as winners who should be better than Leo Messi.

“In my opinion, this Ballon d’Or belongs to Kante or Jorginho … I’m sick of giving it to Messi,” Evra said.

“What did you win last year? All right, Copa America and Argentina. What did you do with Barcelona?”

Competing with Leo Messi, Kante, and Jorginho in the Ballon d’Or race are the likes of Karim Benzema, Robert Lewandowski, and Cristiano Ronaldo.

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Man U need to change something’ after losing 4-2 at Leicester – Pogba

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Leicester ended their opponents’ 29-game unbeaten run away from home to increase the pressure on Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

Manchester United’s Paul Pogba suggested that his side lack maturity and experience as they were beaten 4-2 in the Premier League at Leicester.

Pogba has declared something needs to change at Manchester United following their 4-2 Premier League defeat to Leicester City. “We need to find something, we need to change something.”

The Frenchman played the entirety of United’s latest defeat that ended their 29-game unbeaten run away from home.

The defeat leaves Ole Gunnar Solskjaer under further scrutiny as United’s own winless run extends to three games as they continue to look less than the sum of their expensive parts.

“To be honest, we’ve been having this kind of game for a long time and we haven’t found the problem,” Pogba said.

“We need to find what’s the problem, to concede easy goals, stupid goals, when we know those games where we play on this pitch, the fans are going to push, put pressure on us and everything. We need to be more mature, I think. We need to play with more experience, arrogance in a good way. We have to take the ball and play our football.

 

“But now we have to find what’s the key of these games that we lose. Because I think we deserved to lose today.

 

“We need to find something, we need to change something. I don’t know if the mindset of all of us, the players, when we start… we really don’t know. It’s frustrating because it’s something we don’t understand and we have to find that very fast because if you want to compete and you want to win the title, those games you have to win, even though they are very hard and we’re playing away.

 

“You need to fight their game, you need to find the right mentality, the right tactic to win those games. That’s my thought. We have time to think about it and then all together, we have to stick together and find the problem.”

 

Ole: I made bad decisions

United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer admitted that he “probably made a couple of bad decisions” with his team selection

Harry Maguire made a surprise return against his former club after recovering from injury, while Cristiano Ronaldo returned to the line-up after being rested against Everton. Yet it was the central midfield area where Manchester United struggled as Pogba and Nemanja Matic were badly overrun at times.

 

Solskjaer admitted he made errors with the way his team set up.

 

“The four goals we conceded were very poor,” he told Sky Sports.

 

“When you concede goals like that in the way we did, we don’t deserve to continue that run. Definitely the performance was very below-par and not good enough. We got a very good goal with Mason and we were knocking on the door to get another one; sloppy play and we concede a goal.

 

“In the second half, it was end-to-end but they created more chances and conceding at set-pieces was disappointing. Conceding seconds after the equaliser shouldn’t happen. I picked the team; Harry showed no reaction. I hold my hand up if it doesn’t work out and sometimes it doesn’t.

“When you concede four, I probably made a couple of bad decisions.”

Merse: Solskjaer in a spot of bother

Paul Merson speaking on Soccer Saturday, said, “I think Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is in a spot of bother.

“I said before the game if that he can get through November still in the job, then they would have every chance of winning the league because they have some shocking fixtures – and this was the start of it and they have been beaten. Leicester thoroughly deserved it too.

“Manchester United are struggling. I’ve said that Arsenal could finish above them in the top four and I haven’t changed my mind.

 

“They are individuals, they are not a team. They haven’t got legs all around the pitch and because Ronaldo can’t go in behind defences, the other teams are all pushing up on them and that means Pogba doesn’t get time on the ball. For me, Solskjaer is under severe pressure.”

 

Manchester United’s gruelling run

Manchester United face a formidable set of fixtures in October and November as they look to keep pace in the Premier League and ensure Champions League qualification, with Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal, Tottenham and the Manchester derby looming domestically.

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