Real Madrid, Man City start strong in Champions League

Sports Desk, Sep 6 (EFE).- Holders Real Madrid beat Celtic 3-0 and Manchester City pounded Sevilla 4-0 Tuesday as the 2022-2023 Champions League group stage kicked off with eight matches.

Paris Saint-Germain hung on for a 2-1 win over Juventus, while AC Milan had to come from behind to draw 1-1 with Salzburg, Chelsea fell 1-0 to Dinamo Zagreb and Shakhtar Donetsk stunned RB Leipzig 4-1.

Benfica posted a comfortable 2-0 victory against Maccabi Haifa and Borussia Dortmund dominated Copenhagen 3-0.

Celtic, playing in Europe’s elite club competition for the first time in five years, started well against the Blancos in Glasgow and only the woodwork stopped Callum McGregor from staking the hosts to an early lead.

Karim Benzema, the driving force behind Real Madrid’s record-extending 14th Champions League title, left in the 30th minute with a knee injury, and the contest was still scoreless at the break.

Celtic’s Daizen Maeda squandered a golden chance two minutes into the second half and the visitors went ahead in the 56th minute with a goal by Vinicius Jr.

The ageless Luka Modric – in his 100th Champions League game for Real Madrid – made it 2-0 at the hour with an assist from Eden Hazard, Benzema’s replacement, and the Belgian international added a goal in the 77th minute.

Sevilla were embarrassed at home by City, whose already potent attack has been boosted by the addition of scoring machine Erling Haaland, who had a brace to increase his career mark in the Champions League to 25 goals in 20 games.

City’s other goals came from Phil Foden (58th minute) and Ruben Dias, who scored in stoppage time.

Kylian Mbappe was the architect of PSG’s first-ever victory over Juventus, giving the hosts a 2-0 advantage with a brace inside the first 22 minutes.

The Bianconeri were better to start the second half and keeper Mattia Perin prevented Neymar from extending the PSG lead to 3-0 before US international Weston McKennie headed home for Juve to cut the deficit to one goal.

PSG keeper Gianluigi Donnaruma did well to deny Dusan Vlahovic minutes later and made a double-stop against Manuel Locatelli in the 81st minute.

Perin intervened again in the final minute of regulation to rob Neymar.

Chelsea, the 2020-2021 Champions League winners, had the lion’s share of possession against Dinamo in the Croatian capital, but struggled until the final stretch to generate much in the way of an attacking threat.

Mislav Orsic gave Dinamo the lead with a goal on the counter in the 13th minute and the home side withstood a late flurry by the Blues, as goalkeeper Dominik Livakovic made good stops against Mason Mount and Hakim Ziyech and Reece James hit the post.

RB Salzburg took a positive approach against Milan and their ambition bore fruit with Noah Okafor’s goal in the 28th minute. The Rossoneri reacted and drew level in the 40th thanks to Alexis Saelemaekers.

The second half unfolded in similar fashion. The hosts seized the initiative only to cede it again to Milan, who nearly won with a Rafael Leao strike that bounced the post in stoppage time.

Leipzig were better than Shakhtar in the early going, by a blunder by keepers Peter Gulacsi let Marian Shved put the hosts up 1-0 in the 16th minute.

Mohamed Simakan equalized for the Red Bulls in the 57th minute, only for Shved to restore the Shakhtar lead a minute later with a shot that took two deflections before finding the back of the net.

The hosts went on to concede goals on the counter to Mykhaylo Mudryk and Lassina Traore.

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