The back half of Matchday 3 of the UEFA Champions League concluded on Wednesday, with eight matches across the continent.
Here are a few quick takeaways.
Mbappé leads Paris Saint-Germain’s rout of AC Milan
After suffering a lopsided defeat in Newcastle on Matchday 2, PSG, still desperate to win the Champions League more than a decade into its deep-pocketed Qatari ownership, needed to respond in a convincing way Wednesday at the Parc des Princes.
The same could be said about the Parisians’ superstar forward, World Cup winner and French national team captain Kylian Mbappé, after his anonymous performance during that humiliating 4-1 smackdown on Tyneside Oct. 4.
That the opponent happened to be seven time champion AC Milan only added to the spectacle. This was a big game.
The best players in every sport have a habit of meeting the moment, and Mbappé did that against the Rossoneri with a breathtaking first half goal that sent the hosts on their way to a convincing and badly needed 3-0 win:
Randal Kolo Muani got PSG’s second and substitute Lee Kang-in completed the rout in the 89th minute, but the home side could’ve (and probably should’ve) prevailed by an even wider margin. Milan — which again started American duo Christian Pulisic and Yunus Musah — had its moments, most notably a near miss by Rafael Leão that was set up by a seeing-eye pass by Pulisic, and another play between Pulisic and Olivier Giroud that somehow didn’t end with the ball in the net. Overall, though, the night belonged to PSG, which now sits all alone back in first place in Group F. Milan, still looking for its first win, is last. The must-watch rematch in Italy is Nov. 7.
Men against Boys as Manchester City stays perfect
The trophy holders won their first two matches in this season’s competition in rather unconvincing fashion — at least by City’s sky-high standards. And “pretty good” was again good enough for Pep Guardiola’s team Wednesday in Switzerland, where a second half equalizer by Young Boys winger Meschak Elia briefly put a scare into the English champs before the natural order was restored through the indefatigable Erling Haaland.
Haaland had 12 goals in 11 Champions League games as City strolled to its maiden European title last season. He set a new scoring record in the Premier League, and has nine in nine Prem matches in 2023-24. But through the Sky Blues’ first two games in the world’s top club competition this year, he’d been held scoreless — just as he was in the final three contests last season. In other words, Haaland was due. His first tally Wednesday came from the penalty spot to put the visitors back in the lead. His second was of the usual, more spectacular variety:
So that’s three wins from three games to start the title defense, despite not playing all that well. Makes you wonder if any team can stop Guardiola’s side from repeating next spring once it — and Haaland — really get going.
Newcastle falls back to earth against Borussia Dortmund
The Magpies first pair of Champions League games in two decades could hardly have gone much better. Newcastle took a point home from the San Siro against AC Milan, then came home and walloped PSG.
With their third match also at home in front of an expectant crowd at St. James’s Park, surely Eddie Howe’s team would keep rolling — even against a former champion in Germany’s Borussia Dortmund.
That’s not how it played out. After exploding for four goals in its last match, sloppy Newcastle couldn’t convert any of its 12 shots and was outplayed by the visitors, who left England with a 1-0 victory and all three points. Felix Nmecha had the winner, finishing off a slick counterattack by the Black and Yellow shortly before the halftime whistle.
Things won’t get easier for Newcastle from here. A rematch in Dortmund is next, with a daunting trip to Paris looming after that.
Atlético Madrid slips up in Scotland
When Celtic and Atlético Madrid met in the semifinals of the Champions League’s predecessor — the European Cup — in 1974, the intensely physical match in which three visitors were shown red cards was dubbed the “Battle of Glasgow.”
Wednesday’s rematch only saw one Madrid player sent off. But there was no shortage of drama, with the hosts twice taking the lead at Celtic Park only to see Atléti come back to equalize both times. Spain captain Álvaro Morata bagged the second:
It’s understandable then that Diego Simeone, the Spaniards’ coach, was smiling after the 2-2 tie. A draw is obviously better than a loss. But the two dropped points against the bottom team in Group E still hurt Atlético, which now sits second after Dutch squad Feyenoord leapfrogged them with a 3-0 triumph over Italy’s Lazio in Rome.
Doug McIntyre is a soccer writer for FOX Sports. Before joining FOX Sports in 2021, he was a staff writer with ESPN and Yahoo Sports and he has covered United States men’s and women’s national teams at multiple FIFA World Cups. Follow him on Twitter @ByDougMcIntyre.
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