Champions League Roundup: Chelsea, Barcelona & Juventus Advance to Knockout Stage; Man Utd & PSG Earn Crucial Wins

The Champions League returned to our screens and monitors on Tuesday evening, with Europe’s elite beginning to book their places in the round of 16.

There were headline wins for Chelsea, Manchester United and Barcelona, while Juventus and Paris-Saint Germain stumbled to awkward victories themselves.

Here’s your roundup of Tuesday’s action…

Chelsea became the first side to secure qualification to this season’s knockout stages with a 2-1 win at Rennes in Group E.

Mason Mount, who Frank Lampard pointed out pre-game was in fact not his son, found Callum Hudson-Odoi with a wonderfully weighted ball for the Blues’ opener, but Serhou Guirassy threatened to derail Chelsea’s path to the last 16 with a thumping header with under ten minutes remaining. However, Olivier Giroud secured the points late on with a header of his own late on to send Chelsea into the next round.

Chelsea’s player ratings from this game can be found here.

Sevilla are through to the knockout stages, and so won’t be able to defend their Europa League crown. You win some… | KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/Getty Images

Elsewhere in Group E, Sevilla too left it late to ensure they would also advance to the knockout stages, beating Krasnodar 2-1 in a partially-filled stadium in Russia. Ivan Rakitic opened the scoring for the Spaniards after four minutes with a drilled effort from range. Wanderson cancelled out the Croat’s strike goal early in the second half, but Munir sealed the win in the 95th minute.

In Group H, Manchester United saw off the challenge of Istanbul Basaksehir with a 4-1win at Old Trafford. Bruno Fernandes was quick out of the blocks with a first half brace, including a rocket from the edge of the area, before Marcus Rashford added a third from the penalty spot. Deniz Turuc pulled one back for the visitors with a fierce free-kick with 15 minutes remaining, and despite late pressure, United clinched the win through Dan James in stoppage time.

You can read United’s player ratings in full here.

Paris Saint-Germain v RB Leipzig: Group H - UEFA Champions LeagueParis Saint-Germain v RB Leipzig: Group H - UEFA Champions League
These two are determined not to be relegated to Thursday night football | Xavier Laine/Getty Images

Neymar’s first half penalty was enough for Paris Saint-Germain to beat RB Leipzig 1-0 at Parc des Princes. The hosts played with their backs to the walls for much of the contest, and leapfrog Die Roten Bullen on their head-to-head record with two group games remaining.

In Group G, Alvaro Morata spared Juventus‘ blushes by popping up with a late winner in a 2-1 win at home to Ferencvaros. Myrto Uzuni gave the away side a shock lead early on with a tap in, imitating Cristiano Ronaldo with his celebration. Unfortunately, the Portuguese legend was in no mood and equalised for the hosts soon after, and Morata snatched the points in the dying minutes to send the Old Lady through to the last 16.

Juve’s player ratings can be found here.

A heavily weakened Barcelona side put aside their domestic issues to record an emphatic 4-0 win at Dynamo Kyiv, with all four goals coming in the second half. Sergino Dest’s first goal for the club was followed by a brace by sole striker Martin Braithwaite. Antoine Griezmann put the cherry on the cake in injury time as Barça maintained their 100% record in this season’s Champions League and advanced to the next round.

Borussia Dortmund remain top of Group F after a comfortable 3-0 victory at home to Club Brugge. Erling Haaland surpassed Ronaldo’s (the original) Champions League goal tally with his 15th and 16th strikes in just 12 European Cup games. Jadon Sancho also worked his way onto the scoresheet at Signal-Iduna Park with a wicked free-kick.

Meanwhile, Lazio edged their way toward the knockout stages after beating Zenit 3-1 at the Stadio Olimpico. Goal machine Ciro Immobile kicked off proceedings with a sweet strike from distance, and Marco Parolo added a second soon after. Artem Dzyuba replied for the Russian champions minutes later, but Immobile made sure of victory with a second half penalty.


Juventus 2-1 Ferencvaros: Player Ratings as Late Alvaro Morata Header Downs Hungarian Minnows

Juventus stole a late victory in the Champions League as Alvaro Morata’s injury time header defeated Hungarian outfit Ferencvaros in Turin on Tuesday night.

The visitors took a shock lead in the first half as Juve’s defence vanished in the 19th minute, allowing Myrto Uzuni to flick in a deflected cross from the right.

Myrto UzuniMyrto Uzuni
Who are you imitating there, Myrto? | Valerio Pennicino/Getty Images

Il Bianconeri drew level through Cristiano Ronaldo, who turned well before firing in at Ferencvaros goalkeeper Denes Dibusz’s near post.

Hungarian champions Ferencvaros more than held their own for the majority of the contest, impressively keeping their hosts to a minimum of shooting opportunities. However, substitute Morata stole in at the back post late on to keep Juve’s hopes of topping Group G alive.

Here are your Juve player ratings.

Tokmac Nguen, Matthijs de LigtTokmac Nguen, Matthijs de Ligt
One dodgy moment aside, De Ligt was composed in defence | Valerio Pennicino/Getty Images

Wojciech Szczesny (GK) – 5/10 – Had little to do and couldn’t prevent the visitors’ goal, mainly because his defence crumbed in front of him.

Juan Cuadrado (RB) – 7/10 – Grabbed himself two assists, showing his attacking quality despite being placed at right back. A bit suspect defensively.

Danilo (CB) – 5/10 – Slipped for the opening goal. Generally looked shaky as part of a two man defence when he’s become accustomed to playing in a back three. Booked.

Matthijs de Ligt (CB) – 7/10 – Came charging out of central defence for Ferencvaros’s goal and failed to win his header. Aside from that moment of weakness, it seemed like De Ligt was the only Juve player bothering to defend.

Alex Sandro (LB) – 6/10 – Caught a little too narrow in the build up to the night’s first goal. Offered an outlet down the left as usual and was dominant in the air.

Weston McKennie, SomaliaWeston McKennie, Somalia
McKennie struggled to assert himself | Valerio Pennicino/Getty Images

Weston McKennie (RM) – 5/10 – Looked like a round peg filling a square hole. Tracked back and helped out defensively but little else to report on.

Rodrigo Bentancur (CM) – 6/10 – Was his usual combative self in central midfield, winning plenty of tackles. Replaced as manager Andrea Pirlo searched for the winner.

Arthur (CM) – 6/10 – Was consistently available, registering a monstrous amount of touches and passes. Did struggle to bridge the gap between midfield and attack, however.

Federico Bernardeschi (LM) – 6/10 – Came agonisingly close to scoring in the second half, his half volley striking the post after a fingertip stop from Dibusz. Couldn’t provide too much spark otherwise.

Paulo Dybala (ST) – 5/10 – Really subdued. Often dropped deep but wasn’t influential on the ball and was hooked for Morata just after the hour mark.

Cristiano Ronaldo (ST) – 6/10 – Got his customary Champions League goal with a lovely low strike from outside the box. The game seemed like it was waiting for the Portuguese legend to score the winner, though in the end it wasn’t required.

Alvaro Morata – 7/10 – Spared his side’s blushes with his fifth Champions League goal already this season.

Federico Chiesa – 5/10

Dejan Kulusevski – 5/10

Aaron Ramsey – 5/10

Adrien Rabiot – 5/10

For more from Jude Summerfield, follow him on Twitter!


Manchester United 4-1 Istanbul Basaksehir: Player Ratings as Bruno Fernandes Inspires Comfortable Victory

Manchester United avenged their Champions League defeat in Turkey three weeks ago with a 3-1 victory over Istanbul Basaksehir at Old Trafford on Tuesday night.

The signs were ominous from the get-go for the away side after United had a goal ruled out in the opening exchanges following some wonderful inter-play.

A Bruno Fernandes brace – would recommend a re-watch of his first – would swiftly get them on their way in the first half, with a Marcus Rashford spot-kick easing the hosts into a 3-0 advantage at the break.

The visitors surged in the second period as United lost their momentum following a string of second-half substitutions. Basaksehir deservedly pulled one back through a superb Deniz Turuc free-kick to set up an interesting finish, but the hosts would go on to net a fourth on the counter through substitute Dan James.

Let’s get into some United player ratings from Old Trafford.

Bruno Fernandes, Marcus Rashford, Alex TellesBruno Fernandes, Marcus Rashford, Alex Telles
Alex Telles (L) impressed from left-back | Michael Regan/Getty Images

David De Gea (GK) – 6/10 – The visitors certainly created at Old Trafford, and this was no cakewalk for the Spaniard. De Gea denied Edin Visca smartly after the break before being beaten from distance.

Aaron Wan-Bissaka (RB) – 6/10 – There was the odd occasion where the Turkish side exploited space in behind the Englishman but he was pretty inactive overall before he departed after the break with what looked an injury.

Victor Lindelof (CB) – 7/10 – Stout in the first half before his half-time withdrawal. Wonderful ball to set Rashford away for the penalty.

Harry Maguire (CB) – 5/10 – Struggled against Demba Ba in the opening exchanges and it never looked like he truly settled.

Alex Telles (LB) – 7/10 – Plenty of dynamism down the left, often surging to form a front five with Martial – who he developed a fine understanding with – drifting infield. Lovely technique, and had a hand in both of Bruno’s goals with deliveries from his flank.

Donny Van De BeekDonny Van De Beek
Why Donny van de Beek doesn’t start more often is a real head scratcher | Michael Regan/Getty Images

Fred (CM) – 5/10 – Tenacious as ever but occasionally to his own detriment. Drawn out to wide areas unnecessarily at times and was poor when distributing forward. Has to be more consistent in possession.

Donny van de Beek (CM) – 9/10 – Starred on a rare start, shining as part of the double pivot. While there was the odd occasion where he was overrun in defensive transition, the Dutchman was a healthy contributor in all phases. A composed, dictator-like figure in the middle of the park with his press-resistance a standout feature of his showcase.

Bruno Fernandes (AM) – 9/10 –
United’s roaming creator was sublime as he notched a brace. His first was a Paul Scholes-esque ROCKET while the second was handed to him by Mert Gunok’s incompetence. Just a top, top player.

Edinson CavaniEdinson Cavani
Edinson Cavani produced a selfless display | Michael Regan/Getty Images

Marcus Rashford (RW) – 7/10 – A unique in-behind threat when deployed on the right, best displayed by his penalty win in the first half. His game’s simplified in this position, which benefitted him.

Edinson Cavani (ST) – 6/10 – Ran himself into the ground in a bid to net his 50th European goal, but no such goal was forthcoming. Held the ball up effectively early with his combination play fantastic before his influence waned after the break.

Anthony Martial (LW) – 6/10 – Looked bright as he returned to the left flank. Able to drift in from his flank and receive in deeper zones where he undoubtedly looks more comfortable. Certainly quieter in the second period, however.

Axel Tuanzebe, Nacer ChadliAxel Tuanzebe, Nacer Chadli
Axel Tuanzebe was introduced at the break | Michael Regan/Getty Images

Axel Tuanzebe – 5/10

Mason Greenwood – 6/10 – Spurned several promising openings but decision-making and weight of pass excellent for James’ goal.

Dan James – 7/10 – Should get a huge confidence boost from his goal – a tap-in from close range.

Brandon Williams – 6/10

Nemanja Matic – 6/10


Plans Being Drawn Up for Premier League Fans to Return in ‘Tens of Thousands’ By January

Plans are being prepared to stage crowd pilots involving tens of thousands of Premier League fans in the new year.

The government announced earlier this week that up to 4,000 spectators will be allowed to return to outdoor sports events in England’s lowest risk areas once the current coronavirus lockdown ends on 2 December.

England will replace its nationwide lockdown with a second – and stricter – edition of the tier system, with clubs located in tier one or two areas able to welcome supporters back.

Manchester United v West Bromwich Albion - Premier LeagueManchester United v West Bromwich Albion - Premier League
English football will welcome back fans in December | Chloe Knott – Danehouse/Getty Images

Following the recent update, The Telegraph now reveals that proposals have been put forward for some Premier League football clubs to host five-figure crowds as early as January – providing there is no spike in coronavirus cases from the return of supporters following the conclusion of the second lockdown.

The report adds that pilots are planned to be the first step towards that but they won’t arrive until after Christmas. There had been hope for these pilots to run in-line with the Premier League’s hectic festive schedule but that won’t be the case.

In regard to the staging of pilots, the Premier League said in a statement: “Our ambition remains to work with Government to increase attendance to more substantial levels. Until this can be done, many fans will be unable to attend games and our clubs will continue to operate matches at a financial loss.

“Our priority continues to be the agreement of a roadmap, with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) and the Sports Technology and Innovation Group, for pilot events that can help our clubs quickly scale up to larger capacities in line with the Sports Ground Safety Authority’s Covid-secure guidelines and beyond.

Leeds United v Arsenal - Premier LeagueLeeds United v Arsenal - Premier League
The Premier League clubs could welcome the return of tens of thousands of fans in the new year | Michael Regan/Getty Images

“Premier League clubs have a proven track record of achieving high-biosecurity standards and we believe we can play a significant role in the Government’s rapid turnaround testing initiative.

“We look forward to working with Government on their next steps.”

The return of fans is obviously a huge financial boost for clubs of all levels up and down the country, especially lower-tier clubs – with the majority struggling mightily since the initial lockdown was introduced back in March.


Rennes 1-2 Chelsea: Player Ratings as Blues Book Place in Last 16

Chelsea booked their place in the Champions League knockout stages following a late 2-1 victory against Rennes on matchday four.

The Blues started the brighter and should’ve had an early opener through Timo Werner, but the prolific German fluffed his lines with the goal gaping.

Frank Lampard’s side soon had their goal, though, as Callum Hudson-Odoi pounced on a wonderful Mason Mount pass in behind the Rennes defence before slotting past the onrushing Alfred Gomis.

The hosts grew into the contest before the break and undoubtedly asked more questions of a previously untested Chelsea defence. They equalised through a superb Serhou Guirassy header but the visitors were able to snatch victory in the closing stages via Olivier Giroud’s similarly impressive headed effort.

Let’s get into Chelsea’s player ratings.

Edouard Mendy’s hands were as safe as ever | DAMIEN MEYER/Getty Images

Edouard Mendy (GK) – 8/10 – Superb once again and could do little to deny Guirassy’s thumping header.

Cesar Azpilicueta (RB) – 7/10 –
A steady Eddie in all phases. Unspectacular but a bloody warrior.

Thiago Silva (CB) – 7/10 – Rennes target man Guirassy ensured the elegant Brazilian didn’t have it all his own way in this one. Positionally faultless and covered wide areas well.

Kurt Zouma (CB) – 7/10 –
Impressive start to 2020/21 continued in Rennes. Aerially dominant and looks pretty unflappable alongside the calming influence of Silva.

Ben Chilwell (LB) – 5/10 – There’s no doubting Chilwell’s bright start in west London but he was poor here. Erratic in possession and struggled one-vs-one on occasions against the talented Jeremy Doku.

Mason Mount battling Rennes’ Eduardo Camavinga | DAMIEN MEYER/Getty Images

Jorginho (DM) – 6/10 – Chelsea missed N’Golo Kante. The Blues’ midfield was bypassed way too frequently with balls often finding the feet of Guirassy. The Italian was typically safe in possession.

Mateo Kovacic (CM) – 5/10 – A fairly quiet evening for the Croatian, who didn’t really make much of an impact at all before being replaced in the second period.

Mason Mount (CM) – 8/10 – The 21-year-old’s playing at such a high level at the moment, with his rich vein of form continuing on Tuesday night. His freakish tenacity and impressive technique were encapsulated in Hudson-Odoi’s opener. Magic.

Callum Hudson-Odoi bagged his third goal of the campaign in Rennes | DAMIEN MEYER/Getty Images

Callum Hudson-Odoi (RW) – 8/10 – Looked bright from the get-go and was rewarded with a fine finish for the game’s opener. Combined efficiently down the right and tracked runs of enterprising left-back Adrien Truffart admirably too.

Tammy Abraham (ST) – 7/10 – A selfless display from Abraham, who held the ball up well and worked tirelessly out of possession. Defended his own box impressively too.

Timo Werner (LW) – 5/10 – Missed a sitter in the opening stages which set the tone for a rather mundane performance. Movement was fine and he rotated well but appeared sluggish on the whole.

A salmon looking up to the heavens… | DAMIEN MEYER/Getty Images

N’Golo Kante – 6/10

Olivier Giroud – 7/10 – Match-winner with a wonderful header in the dying embers. Some leap.

Hakim Ziyech – 6/10

Kai Havertz – N/A