Benfica, PSG, Chelsea finishes group stage on a high note


Champions League roundup:
Benfica defeated Maccabi Haifa with six goals to take first place in Group H ahead of PSG while Real Madrid thrashed Celtic. With a 6-1 victory over Israeli team Maccabi Haifa, Benfica completed their best-
ever group stage run. There was a moment of hope for the hosts Maccabi Haifa in the first half when Tjaronn Chery equalized from the penalty spot after Gonçalo Ramos had opened the scoring with a
close-range header for Benfica.

But in the second half, the Portuguese team took command of the game, scoring five goals past Maccabi
Haifa’s feeble defense and American goalie Josh Cohen. Lex Grimaldo’s free-kick, which curled around
the wall and into the bottom corner, was the best of the goals. The group’s top spot was guaranteed by
Joao Mário’s late goal.

PSG narrowly defeated Juventus, who were already out from the Champions League, in the second
Group H match. With a beautiful strike in the 13th minute, Kylian Mbappé got things started. Leo Messi
passed to the Frenchman, who ran past two Juventus players before curling a ball across the goalkeeper
and into the bottom corner from outside the box.

In response, Juventus started to pose a greater threat, and Manuel Locatelli had a few chances that
were just inches away from connecting. The Italian midfielder assisted Juan Cuadrado in the 38th
minute, who headed the ball across the goal for Leonardo Bonucci to knock in. Nuno Mendes made a
strong run and hammered a shot across the goalkeeper to score the game-winning goal in the 69th
minute. A few minutes later, Locatelli would have a goal disallowed, ending the Italian team’s lackluster
Champions League season.

Man City defeated Sevilla easily in Manchester to win group G, maintaining their perfect record. For the
guests, Rafa Mir scored with a strong header from a corner. The most youthful player to ever score in the
Champions League did it in the second half when academy graduate Rico Lewis scored his maiden goal
for City. Karim Benzema’s 2005 goal for Lyon at the age of 17 and 352 days held the previous record,
which he broke at the age of 17 and 346 days. Lewis cupped his palms over his mouth in a display of
ecstasy that was obvious.

In the 73rd minute, Julián Alvarez easily rounded Moroccan international Yassine Bounou to make it 2-1
after Kevin de Bruyne curled an inch-perfect through pass to him. To finish off a strong evening for Man
City, Riyad Mahrez made it 3-1 with a superb strike after capitalizing on a defensive blunder. Borussia
Dortmund earned a 1-1 draw away against FC Copenhagen despite putting up a lackluster performance
to advance to the round of 16.

Thorgan Hazard raised the ball into the air in the 23rd minute and let it hang there for a brief period of
time before half-volleying it into the goal. Hákon Haraldsson scored the equalizer later in the first half by
heading in from close range.

As a result of their lack of victories in the Champions League this year, FC Copenhagen now sits at the
bottom of their group. Real Madrid easily won their group, crushing Celtic, who finished the group stage
with just two points.

The Champions League meeting between the Spanish champions and RB Leipzig ended in a loss, but yesterday night at the Bernabeu, they were in dominant form as they won 5-1. Prior to Croatian right-
back Josip Juranovic missing a penalty for Celtic in the second half, the hosts scored two penalties in the opening period.

In the second half, Los Blancos continued their dominance, scoring three more goals, until Celtic’s Jota
added a stunning free kick as a consolation. The other matchup in Group F saw RB Leipzig defeat
Shakhtar Donetsk with a resounding 0-4 victory. Due to the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, the game was
played in Poland.

As a result, Shakhtar Donetsk are relegated to the Europa League and RB Leipzig finishes second
behind group winners Real Madrid. After defeating RB Salzburg 4-0 at the San Siro, AC Milan earned
the second place in Group E and advanced to the round of 16 for the first time since 2014.
Olivier Giroud scored twice and was unfortunate to have another goal disallowed for slight offside. Rafael
Leo also shown amazing skill on the occasion, around the entire penalty area and then delivering a brilliantly timed cross for Giroud to add Milan’s third goal.

With a vital victory over Dinamo Zagreb, who finished last, Chelsea took first place in the group. Raheem
Sterling equalized after Bruno Petkovi’s early strike, snapping a two-month goalless streak. Sterling
caught a feed from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and curled the ball past two defenders in the box. Denis
Zakaria, a Swiss midfielder, had a sensational Chelsea debut, sidefooting in a shot after Mason Mount
had squared it to him with 30 minutes remaining.

By Brian Simiyu


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