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Saturday, May 28, 2022

Champions League: Five things you might have missed, including Messias delivering for AC Milan

On a Champions League night that saw Junior Messias deliver for Milan, and Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain both progress to the round of 16, we take a look at some of the stories you may have missed.

1. Former delivery man saves Milan

Milan’s Champions League hopes are still alive thanks to Junior Messias’ late winner in their dramatic 1-0 victory at Atletico Madrid.

Incredibly, the 30-year-old Brazilian was not only making his UCL debut, but competing in his first ever European match. Back in 2015, he was delivering fridges and washing machines while playing for Casale in Serie D. 

Messias, who was at Crotone last season, has patiently worked his way up the Italian football pyramid. And his late header, from Franck Kessie’s cross, means Milan now head into the final gameweek in third place, just one point behind Porto. They host Group B winners Liverpool in their final game on Paramount+.

Messias scored on his UCL debut to keep Milan’s hopes alive.
Getty Images

2. Brace yourselves for another Liverpool record

Liverpool just can’t stop scoring and maintained their 100% UCL record with a comfortable 2-0 win over Porto at Anfield.

A stunning hit from Thiago Alcantara — which Jurgen Klopp called “a thunderball” — and a Mo Salah strike means Liverpool have scored two or more goals for the 16th consecutive game. It’s the best run by an English side since Wolverhampton Wanderers in 1939.

Porto’s fate still remains in their own hands. They host Atletico Madrid next knowing a win will ensure qualification.

Jurgen Klopp called Thiago’s strike “a thunderball”.

3. Mbappe scores on 50th UCL appearance 

Kylian Mbappe marked his 50th Champions League outing with a goal in Paris Saint-Germain’s 2-1 loss at Manchester City.

Aged 22 years and 339 days, he is the second-youngest outfield player to reach 50 UCL appearances behind only Cesc Fabregas (22 years, 331 days). Mbappe’s goal was his 20th in the Champions League on the road, a tally he has reached in just 23 games. 

Mbappe has scored 9 goals in all competitions this season.

Mbappe has nine goals in all competitions this season, but after the game CBS Sports pundit Jamie Carragher still questioned his defensive qualities. The former Liverpool defender believes PSG have “no chance” of winning the Champions League when Mbappe, Neymar and Lionel Messi all play together.

Despite the loss, PSG join Group A winners Manchester City in the knockout stage after RB Leipzig thrashed Club Brugge 5-0, but Mauricio Pochettino’s side must settle for second place meaning potential round of 16 ties against Liverpool or Bayern Munich.

4. Ajax debut ‘Three Little Birds’ kit

Ajax quite literally won Group C in style. Erik ten Hag’s side debuted their Bob Marley-inspired “Three Little Birds” third kit as they came from behind to beat Besiktas 2-1 in Istanbul. 

Sebastian Haller scored twice from the bench. The 27-year-old now has nine goals in five games in the group stage and is the joint-top UCL scorer with Robert Lewandowski.

Haller has also scored more goals in his first five Champions League appearances than any other player.

5. Dzeko reaches 50 European goals

Inter reached the round of 16 for the first time in a decade thanks to a brace from Edin Dzeko. 

The Bosnian forward secured a battling 2-0 win over Shakhtar Donetsk and in doing so reached 50 goals in UEFA club competition. He is the 20th player to achieve this feat.

Both goals came in the second half as a much-improved Nerazzurri joined Real Madrid in the knockout stage. But Dzeko also caught the eye in the first half for all the wrong reasons after spectacularly skying a long-range effort over the bar …

Inter travel to Real Madrid in their final game on December 7 knowing a win will secure top spot in Group D on Paramount+.


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