Champions League round-up: last-minute drama for Liverpool and Spurs
Reds beat PSG 3-2 at Anfield while Tottenham lose 2-1 to Inter at the San Siro
A collapse and a comeback
Liverpool and Tottenham experienced contrasting fortunes as they kicked off their Champions League campaigns last night.
For the Reds, last season’s beaten finalists, there was a five-goal thriller at Anfield against Paris Saint-Germain that was settled only in stoppage time by Roberto Firmino’s strike.
His goal ensured that the last word of a rollercoaster match didn’t belong to World Cup winner Kylian Mbappe, who thought he had rescued a point for the Parisians with a goal on 83 minutes.
‘A big heart’
“A good performance against an outstandingly strong opponent,” said Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp of the victory, adding that “good organisation and a big heart” had been crucial in snatching back the win at the death.
Nonetheless, the German will be dismayed that his side allowed the visitors to score during a game in which they offered little in the way of creativity.
With a strike force of Mbappe, Neymar and Edinson Cavani, the French champions should have stretched the Reds far more than they did.
Instead, it was Liverpool who dominated, taking a deserved lead on 30 minutes when Daniel Sturridge headed home Andrew Robertson’s cross. James Milner added a second from the penalty spot six minutes later, after Georginio Wijnaldum had been fouled, and at two up it seemed Liverpool were on their way to three points.
But Thomas Meunier scored for PSG five minutes before half-time and Mbappe then levelled with seven minutes remaining. Anfield was stunned but Firmino wasn’t finished, and his low angled drive sent the Kop crazy.
“It is the perfect start for us,” said Milner. “I think it would have been very disappointing not to win. They didn’t create too many and we had a number of chances.”
Pressure getting to Pochettino
Tottenham seemed on course for a memorable win in Milan until Inter struck twice late in the match, shattering Spurs’ dream and inflicting the London side’s third successive defeat.
Tottenham began the season in scintillating style but have now lost to Watford, Liverpool and Inter, and manager Mauricio Pochettino is feeling the strain.
He made five changes for the visit to Italy from the side that lost to Liverpool at the weekend, including the omissions of Kieran Trippier and Toby Alderweireld.
Show some respect
Asked during the post-match press conference to explain their absence, the Argentine snapped: “When my decision is to play with an XI, you must respect my decision because I am the manager… you believe that and sometimes you behave like you ask me with your question, that you can play only 11, and the other 13 or 14 players are rubbish, are s***… please don’t disrespect the players who were playing, because it’s my decision.”
But would Trippier and Alderweireld - two World Cup defenders - have allowed Mauro Icardi and Matias Vecino to score in the closing stages? It was sloppy from Spurs, after Christian Eriksen had given them the lead on 53 minutes with a deflected strike that looped over the head of Samir Handanovic in the Inter goal.
It was nothing less than the visitors deserved for a lively performance against an Italian side who lie 15th in Serie A with just one win from four league matches.
Made them suffer
But then Icardi struck with a sublime volley on 85 minutes and Vecino took advantage of a static Tottenham defence to head the winner in the third minute of stoppage time.
“We had a good game and pressed them high to make them suffer,” said Inter coach Luciano Spalletti. “We complicated life for ourselves too often, however, by allowing them to counterattack, which meant we had to chase the ball and recover it.”
Last night’s Champions League results
- Club Brugge 0 Borussia Dortmund 1
- Monaco 1 Atletico Madrid 2
- Barcelona 4 PSV Eindhoven 0
- Inter Milan 2 Tottenham Hotspur 1
- Red Star Belgrade 0 Napoli 0
- Liverpool 3 Paris Saint-Germain 2
- FC Schalke 04 1 FC Porto 1
- Galatasaray 3 Lokomotiv Moscow 0
Tonight’s Champions League fixtures
Wednesday 19 September (all times UK, live on BT Sport)
- Group E: Ajax vs. AEK Athens (5.55pm); Benfica vs. Bayern Munich (8pm)
- Group F: Shakhtar Donetsk vs. 1899 Hoffenheim (5.55pm); Manchester City vs. Lyon (8pm)
- Group G: Real Madrid vs. Roma (8pm); Viktoria Plzen vs. CSKA Moscow (8pm)
- Group H: Valencia vs. Juventus (8pm); Young Boys vs. Manchester United (8pm)