Man Utd,Barcelona,PSG Cruise to victory in Champions League Opener

United too strong, put three goals past Basel

Fellaini heads in United’s first goal-Photo: BBC/Reuters

Manchester United made a winning return to the Champions League with a deserved home victory over Swiss side Basel.

Marouane Fellaini, who came on for the injured Paul Pogba in the first half, rose highest to head United ahead from an Ashley Young cross with 10 minutes to go to the break.

Romelu Lukaku strengthened their grip on the encounter by converting from among a group of players in the box from a Daley Blind cross following a short corner.

Marcus Rashford fired in his side’s third from a Fellaini low cross seven minutes after coming on. The striker has now scored in his first appearance in the Champions League, Premier League, Europa League, FA Cup, League Cup and for England.

The scoreline could have been even greater for Jose Mourinho’s dominant side, making their first appearance in Europe’s premier club competition since 2015, having qualified by winning the Europa League in May.

They created numerous clear-cut chances, the best of which Henrikh Mkhitaryan side-footed against the post from close range after being found by a Lukaku cut-back.

Basel were pinned back in their own half for much of the game but could have forced a different outcome had Luca Zuffi not fired wide from an unmarked position in the box just before Fellaini’s opener.

Mohamed Elyounoussi also forced David De Gea into a fine save with a rising shot from inside the box as the visitors became more ambitious in the final quarter of the match.


Barca maul Juventus 3-0 in Champions League opener

Dembele and Suarez celebrate
Photo: BBC/EPA

It was a symbolic scoreline. Barcelona beat Juventus 3-0 on Tuesday night in their first Champions League match since losing to the Italian champions 3-0 on aggregate in the last eight of Europe’s premier club competition last season.

The Blaugrana are back and with Lionel Messi, they will always have a chance.

After losing to Juve, much was made of the fact that Messi had never scored against Gianluigi Buffon, while the Argentine also failed to hit the target over two legs as Barca were beaten 5-1 by fierce rivals Real Madrid in August.

That damaging defeat, allied with a tumultuous summer in which Neymar moved to Paris Saint-Germain, top targets like Marco Verratti and Philippe Coutinho were not signed and it also emerged that Messi had not put the final signature onto the contract agreement announced by Barca in July, brought much doom and gloom.

The team’s decline was a worry for fans of the Catalan club and president Josep Maria Bartomeu is facing a censure motion or vote of no confidence as former candidate Agusti Benedito seeks to gather sufficient signatures to force fresh elections next year.

On the pitch, however, things have gone surprisingly well since the Supercopa. Under new coach Ernesto Valverde, Barca have won their opening three league matches (against Betis, Alaves and Espanyol), scoring nine goals in that time and conceding none.

And Ousmane Dembele, who made his debut with an assist in the 5-0 win over Espanyol on Saturday, was handed his first start on Tuesday against a Juventus team missing Giorgio Chiellini, Stephan Lichtsteiner (not chosen in Juve’s European squad), Juan Cuadrado, Sami Khedira, Claudio Marchisio and Mario Mandzukic.

The France forward was bright in the first half with some neat runs, many of which were halted by fouls from the Juventus defence. However, the 20-year-old also looked lost on occasions and will take time to adjust to his new team.

But Dembele did play a part in Messi’s opening goal before the break, the former Borussia Dortmund forward linking up with the Argentine, who in turn played a one-two with Luis Suarez and placed a perfectly executed low drive into the corner from the edge of the box.

PSG on rampage, pounce Celtic 5-0

Neymar scores for PSG

Celtic sustained their heaviest ever home European defeat as Neymar led the way for Paris St-Germain in the Champions League group stage opener.

The world’s most expensive player coolly finished and then had a hand in PSG’s second, which was finished emphatically by Kylian Mbappe.

Edinson Cavani converted a penalty for the visitors’ third before the break.

Mikael Lustig’s own goal was followed by Cavani’s second of the night, a diving header.

Elsewhere in Group B, hosts Bayern Munich won 3-0 against Anderlecht, who had a man sent off.

Celtic have hosted many of the great powerhouses of European football in Glasgow over the years, but even those with the longest memories would probably struggle to recall a side as devastating as PSG.

Their speed of thought, speed of movement, accuracy and imagination was extraordinary. Their confidence on the ball – even when playing intricate passes in their own penalty area to get out of trouble – was a joy.

Quality on this scale costs big-time, of course. The biggest compliment you can pay the visitors is that they looked every inch the half-billion-pound team they are.

Celtic boss Brendan Rodgers went with young Tony Ralston at right-back with Lustig playing centre-half. Ralston was keen as mustard, biting into tackles on Neymar, but this was a night when enthusiasm and heart were not much use to Celtic.

According to BBC, Unai Emery’s visitors had the ball in the net after 15 minutes but Cavani was offside. It was a warning to Celtic, not that it was needed. The subtlety of PSG’s play was not something they could cope with. Soon, the doors started opening for the visitors.

Celtic had legitimate gripes about a foul on Scott Sinclair moments earlier, but when PSG countered it was precise and beautiful. Adrien Rabiot, relatively unsung in this team of stars but sensationally good on the night, played Neymar in behind Ralston and the Brazilian thumped his shot past Craig Gordon.

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