Bruges: Lionel Messi failed to provide Paris Saint-Germain with any sparkle as the Ligue 1 team’s potent attacking trio lacked inspiration in a disappointing 1-1 draw at Club Brugge in their Champions League opener on Wednesday (Thursday AEST).
Making his first start for the French team, the Argentine forward hit the woodwork but was otherwise far from his brilliant best alongside the hugely disappointing Neymar and Kylian Mbappe, who set up Ander Herrera for PSG’s first-half opener before being replaced injured after the break.
Lionel Messi started for the first time alongside fellow superstars Neymar and Kylian Mbappe.Credit:Getty
Brugge, who levelled before half-time through Hans Vanaken, were more aggressive and had the best chances against a PSG side lacking quality and defensive focus.
The result left PSG and Brugge trailing Group A leaders Manchester City by two points after the Premier League champions crushed RB Leipzig 6-3.
With Messi, Neymar and Mbappe together on the pitch for the first time, PSG made a confident start but Brugge responded well.
Mbappe broke down the left flank and his low cross was met by Herrera, who opened the scoring in the 15th minute with a low finish for his fourth goal of the season – his third in his last two games.
Jordan Henderson celebrates what proved to be the winner for Liverpool against AC Milan.Credit:Getty
Messi set up Mbappe, who went close in the 23rd minute with an angled shot that was deflected by Simon Mignolet but PSG were lulled into a false sense of security.
On a sharp attack, the visitors’ defence was overwhelmed on the right side and after a late run into the box, Vanaken connected with Eduard Sobol’s cutback to beat Keylor Navas after 27 minutes.
Messi hit the woodwork with a fine curling shot from the edge of the box before Brugge threatened again as Vanaken forced Navas into a diving save with a low free kick.
The keeper was made to work again to tip Charles De Ketelaere’s rising shot over the bar before half-time.
UEFA Champions League matchday 1 results
- Sevilla 1 RB Salzburg 1
- Young Boys 2 Manchester United 1
- Lille 0 Wolfsburg 0
- Villarreal 2 Atalanta 2
- Chelsea 1 Zenit St Petersburg 0
- Malmo 0 Juventus 3
- Barcelona 0 Bayern 3
- Dynamo Kviv 0 Benfica 0
- Besiktas 1 Borussia Dortmund 2
- Sheriff Tiraspol 2 Shakhtar Donetsk 0
- Inter Milan 0 Real Madrid 1
- Atletico Madrid 0 Porto 0
- Club Brugge 1 PSG 1
- Liverpool 3 AC Milan 2
- Manchester City 6 RB Leipzig 3
- Sporting Lisbon 1 Ajax Amsterdam 5
Danilo replaced Leandro Paredes as PSG’s holding midfielder while Julian Draxler took over from Georginio Wijnaldum as roving midfielder after the break.
PSG suffered a blow six minutes into the second half when Mbappe limped off the pitch after taking a knock on his ankle and was substituted by Mauro Icardi.
Messi had PSG’s first chance of the second half 20 minutes from time with an angled shot before picking up a yellow card, but Brugge did more than enough to claim a well-deserved point.
Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson, meanwhile struck a rare Champions League goal to earn his side a 3-2 victory over AC Milan in a rip-roaring Group B opener at a rocking Anfield.
Sebastien Haller, right, celebrates one of his four goals in Ajax’s rout of Sporting Lisbon.Credit:AP
Henderson rifled home in the 69th minute to settle an absorbing contest Liverpool had threatened to run away with when Fikayo Tomori’s own goal handed them an early lead.
Remarkably, after soaking up a Liverpool bombardment in which Mohamed Salah missed a penalty, Milan struck twice in quick succession at the end of the first half with Ante Rebic and Brahim Diaz silencing the home crowd.
Milan had a goal disallowed shortly after the break before Salah made amends for his penalty miss by equalising from close range in the 49th minute.
The outcome was still in doubt until Henderson capped a memorable Anfield night with a thumping effort, just his second in the competition and first for seven years. Atletico Madrid and Porto split the points with a scoreless draw in Group B’s other clash.
Rodrygo and Real Madrid left it until the death to break the deadlock against Inter Milan.Credit:AP
In Portugal, Ajax added to their early-season scoring spree with debutant Sebastien Haller finding the net four times in the team’s 5-1 win at Sporting Lisbon.
Making his Champion League debut, Haller scored twice in the first 10 minutes and twice again in the second half to help Ajax reach 18 goals in their last five matches.
Steven Berghuis also scored for the Dutch champions at the Jose Alvalade Stadium in Lisbon.
The victory ended a 22-match unbeaten home streak in all competitions for Sporting, who are back in the Champions League for the first time since 2017-18.
In the other Group C match, Erling Haaland scored a goal as Borussia Dortmund won 2-1 at Turkish champion Besiktas.
The 27-year-old Haller, a former West Ham player, opened the scoring with a diving header after a shot by Antony struck the post, then easily found the net from close range after another assist by the Brazilian forward inside the area.
The hosts pulled closer with a goal by Paulinho after a blunder by Ajax goalkeeper Remko Pasveer in the 33rd, but six minutes later Berghuis rebuilt Ajax’s two-goal cushion before Haller got his third in the 51st and fourth in the 63rd.
Ajax had already scored 13 goals from seven different players in their first four Dutch league games this season.
Rodrygo scored a late winner for Real Madrid against Inter Milan, while earlier Sheriff Tiraspol had a Champions League debut to remember as the team from a breakaway region of Moldova beat Shakhtar Donetsk 2-0.
Two goals on quick counter-attacks off crosses from full-back Cristiano propelled Sheriff to victory.
The game took the Champions League to a new frontier. Sheriff is the first club from the Moldovan league to qualify but are based in the breakaway region of Transnistria, a self-proclaimed independent nation which isn’t recognised by any United Nations member state.
With funding from the Sheriff company, which runs large parts of the economy in Transnistria and has strong political ties, the club built a team capable of pushing past former European Cup winners Red Star Belgrade in qualifying.
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