It was an English player’s night in the Champions League, even as both of the English teams in action lost.
Jude Bellingham made the difference again for Real Madrid in a thrilling 3-2 win at Napoli on Tuesday as Manchester United and Arsenal were beaten by Galatasaray and Lens, respectively.
Nine games into his Real Madrid career and Jude Bellingham is fast becoming the team’s star attraction.
The England midfielder assisted Vinicius Junior for one goal to level the score at 1-1 and then tore apart the Italian champion’s defense on his own to score. Even then, it needed an own-goal from Napoli goalkeeper Alex Meret — after some unfortunate deflections — to hand Madrid the win.
It was the second Champions League game in a row where Bellingham played a vital role for Madrid after scoring the winning goal against Union Berlin. The 20-year-old player has eight goals and three assists so far this season since joining Madrid from Borussia Dortmund.
Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti paid tribute to Bellingham, saying he found it hard to believe the midfielder was still only 20.
ENGLISH TEAMS LOSE
Manchester United and Arsenal both lost to teams whose better days in European soccer were in the late 1990s and early 2000s — before Bellingham was born.
A 3-2 loss at home to Galatasaray despite two goals from Rasmus Højlund — United’s sixth defeat in 10 games in all competitions — means more pressure on manager Erik ten Hag.
In the space of 10 minutes, United gave up a 2-1 lead and had midfielder Casemiro sent off as Ten Hag’s team fell apart late against its Turkish opponent. Galatasaray scored in the 71st, won a penalty and missed it — with Casemiro picking up a second yellow card in the process — then scored again in the 81st. The winning goal was scored by Mauro Icardi, who had missed the spot kick shortly before.
That leaves United bottom of its group and four points behind Galatasaray in second place. United has conceded seven goals in its opening two Champions League games after losing its opener 4-3 to Bayern Munich last month.
Elye Wahi scored one goal and set up another to propel Lens to a 2-1 win over Arsenal. Arsenal had the lead through Gabriel Jesus’ 14th-minute goal before Wahi assisted Adrien Thomasson in the 25th and then scored himself with a chip in the 69th. Arsenal midfielder Declan Rice said his team “missed some big chances,” but is “just warming up and getting into our rhythm” at this stage of the season.
Arsenal’s victory over PSV Eindhoven last time out was a landmark — a win in its first Champions League game since the 2016-17 season — but the wait for Lens was much longer. The French team last won a Champions League game back in 2002 against AC Milan and hadn’t qualified for Europe’s top club competition again until this season.
Bayern kept up its record winning run in the Champions League group stage — now at 15 games going back to 2020 — but it was a tricky feat in a 2-1 win over a determined Copenhagen team.
Bayern’s Jamal Musiala leveled the score after Lukas Lerager had given the Danish team the lead, and it was 18-year-old Mathys Tel who scored the winner after combining with 34-year-old teammate Thomas Müller. The action wasn’t over yet, and Bayern goalkeeper Sven Ulreich had to dive to stop an own-goal deep into added time.
Bayern hasn’t lost for 36 group-stage games going back to 2017.
HEARTBREAK IN BERLIN
Two games, two heartbreaking losses in stoppage time for Union Berlin. What an introduction to the Champions League!
The German club lost its first-ever home Champions League game 3-2 to Braga on a goal in the fourth minute of added time from André Castro, two weeks after a 1-0 loss at Madrid on an equally late goal from Jude Bellingham.
Union had been leading 2-0 on two counterattack goals from Sheraldo Becker, but let Braga back into the game with two goals after failing to clear set pieces before the late winner from 35-year-old midfielder Castro. Madrid and Napoli are the other two teams in the group, meaning Union’s qualifying chances have already taken a heavy blow.
The 2-2 draw between PSV and Sevilla had more than its share of drama, with goals in the 86th, 87th and fifth minute of stoppage time as PSV twice recovered from a goal down.
Real Sociedad had a smoother time as it picked up its first Champions League win for 20 years, beating Salzburg 2-0 on first-half goals from Mikel Oyarzabal and Brais Méndez.
Marcus Thuram scored the only goal of the game for last season’s Champions League runner-up Inter Milan in a 1-0 win over Benfica to move level on four points with Sociedad at the top of their group.
AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer