Chelsea Beat Salzburg To Qualify For Champions League Last 16

Chelsea's Croatian midfielder Mateo Kovacic (L) celebrates scoring the team's first goal with team mate Chelsea's Gabonese striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang during the UEFA Champions League Group E football match between RB Salzburg and Chelsea FC in Salzburg, Austria on October 25, 2022. (Photo by Joe Klamar / AFP)
Chelsea’s Croatian midfielder Mateo Kovacic (L) celebrates scoring the team’s first goal with team mate Chelsea’s Gabonese striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang during the UEFA Champions League Group E football match between RB Salzburg and Chelsea FC in Salzburg, Austria on October 25, 2022. (Photo by Joe Klamar / AFP)

 

Chelsea manager Graham Potter was delighted to seal progress to the Champions League last 16 with a game to spare after a 2-1 win away to Salzburg.

Kai Havertz’s stunning strike 26 minutes from time proved the difference between the sides after Junior Adamu cancelled out Mateo Kovacic’s opener for the Blues.

Victory extended Chelsea’s unbeaten run under Potter to nine games.

The former Brighton boss was appointed at Stamford Bridge after Thomas Tuchel’s final game in charge ended in a 1-0 defeat to Dinamo Zagreb to open Group E.

A 1-1 draw at home to the Austrian champions in Potter’s first game in charge then left Chelsea with a mountain to climb.

But back-to-back victories over AC Milan put their European campaign back on track and another win opens up an unassailable four-point lead over Salzburg.

Anything other than a victory for Dinamo Zagreb over AC Milan later on Tuesday will also guarantee top spot in the group for the 2021 European champions.

“That was a fantastic performance from the players,” said Potter.

“I’m delighted to go through with a game to spare considering where we started the competition.”

Chelsea’s bright start under Potter has been undermined by failing to turn their approach play into goals and that was the case once more in a dominant first 45 minutes.

Salzburg had not suffered defeat in their first four Champions League games of the season, but were grateful to goalkeeper Philipp Kohn for keeping the score down before the break.

Kovacic’s fine strike into the top corner gave Kohn no chance as he opened the scoring on 23 minutes.

But the German stopper won a personal duel with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang with three stunning saves to deny the former Arsenal captain.

Havertz’s quality counts

Havertz also had a header from close range parried by Kohn as Chelsea clicked into an attacking rhythm rarely seen during Potter’s first two months in charge.

The English side looked like they may live to regret not taking those chances as Salzburg equalised four minutes into the second half when Adamu converted Maximilian Wober’s teasing cross in behind the Chelsea defence.

However, the visitors immediately responded as Kohn rushed out to deny Aubameyang once more before Adamu cleared Jorginho’s header off the line from a corner.

Chelsea finally got the second goal their performance deserved when Havertz cushioned Christian Pulisic’s pass into his path before curling in off the underside of the crossbar.

“It makes my job a lot easier when they can do that,” added Potter on just Havertz’s third goal of the season.

“He has been fighting and trying his best, for him to score that and help us through is fantastic.

“His quality is there, he’s an incredibly talented player. He’s been nearly there. Scoring a goal like that is bound to help.

“I wouldn’t know, I couldn’t score a goal like that, but it’s a fantastic strike and an indication of the quality he has.”

But Potter’s men had to withstand a late onslaught from Salzburg to hold out for all three points.

The in-form Kepa Arrizabalaga was forced to fly low to his left to turn Benjamin Sesko’s effort behind.

Kepa is finally beginning to deliver on his price tag as the world’s most expensive goalkeeper following his move from Athletic Bilbao in 2018.

But the Spaniard was bailed out by Thiago Silva’s goal line clearance after he was beaten to a cross by Strahinja Pavlovic.

AFP

Graham Potter Frustrated As Salzburg Hold Chelsea

Chelsea’s Albanian forward Armando Broja reacts at the end of the match in the UEFA Champions League Group E football match between England’s Chelsea and Austria’s Red Bull Salzburg at Stamford Bridge in London on September 14, 2022. (Photo by ADRIAN DENNIS / AFP)

 

Graham Potter admitted Chelsea have to “improve the little details” after Red Bull Salzburg spoiled his first match in charge with a late equaliser in Wednesday’s 1-1 draw in the Champions League.

Potter was on course for a winning debut when Raheem Sterling put Chelsea ahead early in the second half at Stamford Bridge.

But the former Brighton boss, who replaced Thomas Tuchel last week, had to settle for a point as Noah Okafor punished sloppy defending to equalise in the closing stages.

It was a largely underwhelming performance from Chelsea, underlining the work Potter must do to repair the flaws in the expensively assembled squad left behind by Tuchel.

“It’s always irritating when you concede a goal. Overall the defensive performance was quite good, it’s just the little details we will have to improve,” Potter said.

“We’re disappointed with the result. We scored a good goal, but lost a bit in the second half.”

Tuchel was dismissed last Wednesday in the aftermath of Chelsea’s embarrassing 1-0 loss at Dinamo Zagreb in their Champions League opener.

Having taken just one point from their first two Group E matches, Chelsea now face a fight to qualify for the knockout stages with two matches against AC Milan looming.

“It is what it is, we have to dust ourselves down. Personality and application was good, we will get better,” Potter said.

“It has not been easy for the boys. They have responded to us really well over the last few days. The attitude has been fantastic. No complaints apart from the fact we have not taken three points.”

With Sunday’s Premier League game against Liverpool postponed due to the forthcoming funeral of Queen Elizabeth II, Potter will have to wait until October 1 for his second game when Chelsea travel to Crystal Palace after the international break.

At least that will give Potter time to find his feet after he was appointed just 24 hours after Tuchel’s shock exit — sparking what the 47-year-old described as a “whirlwind” week as he starts the biggest challenge of his career.

Potter earned widespread admiration for his impressive work with Brighton, who enjoyed their highest Premier League finish last season when the Englishman led them to ninth place.

But thriving on a limited budget at Brighton provides only scant preparation for the unique demands of handling a club of Chelsea’s ambition.

Potter had never even been to a Champions League game before walking into Stamford Bridge on Wednesday.

Defensive Mishaps

Surprisingly used at left wing-back in Potter’s 3-4-3 formation, Sterling spent much of his time more concerned with attack than defence.

The England forward had a close-range volley blocked and Marc Cucurella’s cutback reached Mason Mount, whose shot fizzed wide from the edge of the area.

In the first game since Tuchel was sacked, Chelsea supporters, many shocked by his ruthless dismissal, paid tribute to the German in the 21st minute.

If that display of affection might have made Potter feel uncomfortable, he was shifting awkwardly again when Salzburg nearly snatched the lead late in the first half.

Benjamin Sesko was the dangerman with a 25-yard drive that forced a scrambling save from Kepa Arrizabalaga.

Potter’s men failed to muster a single shot on target in the opening 45 minutes of his reign.

But the cutting edge they missed in the first half was provided by Sterling in the 48th minute.

Reece James’ raking pass sent Mount away down the right flank and his low cross reached Sterling, who curled a fine finish into the far corner from just inside the area.

Yet Sterling’s fourth goal since his close-season move from Manchester City didn’t serve as a springboard for victory.

Bedevilled by defensive mishaps in the final weeks of Tuchel’s reign, Chelsea folded far too easy in the 75th minute.

With Sterling out of position, they squandered possession in midfield before Thiago Silva failed to clear Junior Adamu’s cross as Okafor converted with a low finish that deflected off Cesar Azpilicueta.

Lewandowski Fires Bayern Into Champions League Last Eight With 7-1 Win Over Salzburg

Bayern Munich's Polish forward Robert Lewandowski scores from the penalty spot during the UEFA Champions League last-16, second-leg football match FC Bayern Munich vs RB Salzburg in Munich, southern Germany on March 8, 2022. CHRISTOF STACHE / AFP
Bayern Munich’s Polish forward Robert Lewandowski scores from the penalty spot during the UEFA Champions League last-16, second-leg football match FC Bayern Munich vs RB Salzburg in Munich, southern Germany on March 8, 2022. CHRISTOF STACHE / AFP

 

Robert Lewandowski scored a record-breaking 11-minute hat-trick to send Bayern Munich sailing into the Champions League quarter-finals with a 7-1 win at home to Red Bull Salzburg on Tuesday.

The Polish striker had three goals to his name by the 23rd minute — the earliest anyone has ever completed a hat-trick in a Champions League game — as Bayern shook off their early nerves to crush Salzburg.

The Austrian champions had held Bayern to a 1-1 draw in the first leg, but their hopes of an upset in Munich were left in tatters when Lewandowski scored a tap-in and two penalties to send Bayern on their way to a famous victory.

With just ten minutes and 27 seconds between Lewandowski’s first and third goals, it was the fastest of the six hat-tricks the Pole has now scored in the Champions League.

Bayern started with an attack-heavy 3-5-2, but they looked nervy at the back and there were chances at both ends in the opening minutes.

Lewandowski forced a sharp save from Philipp Koehn with the first attack of the game, while Nicolas Capaldo was denied at the other end by a brilliant block from Kingsley Coman.

Lewandowski gratefully tucked away a penalty to give Bayern the lead on 12 minutes after he was brought down by Maximilian Woeber in the box.

Initially, the lead didn’t seem to calm Bayern’s nerves, and Salzburg almost equalised as Nicolas Seiwald fizzed a fierce shot over the bar at the other end.

But Lewandowski was in a predatory mood, and he soon added two more to complete his hat-trick and put the tie beyond the Austrian side.

Having smashed a second penalty into the bottom corner to double the lead, he added a third on the counter-attack, chasing a loose ball over the line after a one-on-one with Koehn.

Bayern were now purring, and Serge Gnabry drilled home a crushingly inevitable fourth after an elegant passing move on the half-hour mark.

Thomas Mueller curled a brilliant shot into the bottom corner to make it 5-0 shortly after half time, before Bayern switched on cruise control.

The guests grabbed a consolation goal with a clinical counter-attack 20 minutes from time, 18-year-old Dane Maurits Kjaergaard smashing a Geoff-Hurst-like finish into the top corner past Manuel Neuer.

But the hosts had the last word as Mueller stroked home his second and Lewandowski set up Sane for Bayern’s seventh a few minutes from time.

AFP

Felix Double Inspires Atletico Comeback Against Salzburg

Atletico Madrid’s Portuguese forward Joao Felix celebrates his goal during the UEFA Champions League group A football match between Atletico Madrid and Salzburg, at the Wanda Metropolitano stadium in Madrid on October 27, 2020. AFP

 

Joao Felix scored twice, including a late winner, as Atletico Madrid came from behind to beat Salzburg 3-2 in the Champions League on Tuesday.

After being thrashed by Bayern Munich last week, another slip would have put Atletico’s prospects of qualification from Group A in serious doubt.

But Felix’s double salvaged a dramatic victory at the Wanda Metropolitano where Salzburg led 2-1 thanks to goals from Dominik Szoboszlai and Mergim Berisha shortly after half-time. Marcos Llorente had earlier put Atletico in front.

Diego Simeone’s side will travel to Lokomotiv Moscow next week placed second in the group after Lokomotiv were beaten 2-1 at home by Bayern.

Felix now has four goals in seven games this term for Atletico, continuing his encouraging start to the season alongside new signing Luis Suarez and in the absence of the injured Diego Costa.

“When I play in the Champions League, it’s what I like to play in most and you can see the happiness with which I play,” said Felix afterwards.

The 20-year-old had already struck the crossbar with a spectacular bicycle kick when he pulled Atletico level in the 52nd minute before driving in sweetly from inside the penalty area with five minutes left.

AFP

Three Salzburg Players Test Positive For COVID-19

 

Austrian champions Salzburg announced Sunday that three players had tested positive for coronavirus after their midweek Champions League play-off match against Maccabi Tel Aviv.

In a statement on its social media channels, the club said that none of the three players was currently displaying symptoms and all of them were now in quarantine.

The rest of the squad are in so-called “team quarantine”, meaning they are only allowed to attend training and matches.

“Obviously checks will take place more frequently in the coming period,” Salzburg said.

In addition, Salzburg team members will not be available to play for the Austrian national team for the next two weeks.

Salzburg beat Maccabi 3-1 in the second leg of the qualifying play-off round on Wednesday, advancing 5-2 on aggregate.

Austria has so far registered more than 48,000 coronavirus cases and 813 deaths.

AFP

Liverpool Sign Japanese Star Minamino For $9.5 million

Salzburg’s Japanese midfielder Takumi Minamino (c) and Liverpool’s Scotland’s defender Andrew Robertson (l) vie for the ball during the UEFA Champions League Group E football match between RB Salzburg and Liverpool FC on December 10, 2019 in Salzburg, Austria. PHOTO: JOE KLAMAR / AFP

 

Japanese international Takumi Minamino signed for Champions League holders Liverpool on Thursday for a reported fee of £7.25 million ($9.5 million) from Austrian outfit Red Bull Salzburg, the Premier League leaders announced.

The 24-year-old forward — who impressed Liverpool in their two Champions League group matches this season with the Austrian side — is believed to have signed a four-and-a-half-year contract.

“Liverpool Football Club can confirm an agreement has been reached with Red Bull Salzburg for the transfer of Takumi Minamino,” the club said in a statement on their website.

Minamino — who scored in the 4-3 defeat by Liverpool at Anfield in October — said it fulfilled a dream.

“It has been a dream, my dream to become a Liverpool player,” he told Liverpool.com.

“And I’m so excited that the moment has come true.

“To play in the Premier League was one of my targets.

“I think this is the top-class league in the world; I was thinking if my career as a footballer progressed smoothly, someday I would be able to play in the Premier League.

“But I never thought I would be able to play in this team and I’m really happy about it.”

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp said Minamino was a courageous player.

“He is very quick and a very brave player,” said Klopp.

“He is brave with the ball but also brave without the ball.”

Liverpool — whose senior squad are preparing for Saturday’s Club World Cup final in Qatar — activated Minamino’s release clause last week.

He will be free to play for them from January 1 and could be involved in the FA Cup third-round tie at home to city rivals Everton on January 5.

His move brings an end to his five-year spell with Salzburg, whom he joined from Cerezo Osaka in January 2015.

In total, Minamino made 199 appearances for Salzburg, scoring 64 goals, while he has earned 22 caps for Japan and scored 11 times since making his debut in October 2015.

AFP

Liverpool Survive Salzburg Test To Reach Champions League Last 16

Liverpool’s Guinean midfielder Naby Keita, Liverpool’s English midfielder Jordan Henderson and Liverpool’s Brazilian midfielder Roberto Firmino react during the UEFA Champions League Group E football match between RB Salzburg and Liverpool FC on December 10, 2019 in Salzburg, Austria.
KRUGFOTO / APA / AFP

 

Liverpool struck twice in two minutes through Naby Keita and Mohamed Salah to avoid an embarrassing early Champions League exit by winning 2-0 in Salzburg on Tuesday.

The European champions needed to avoid defeat against the Austrian champions to book their place in the last 16 and victory ensured they did so as winners of Group E ahead of Napoli.

Salah had been guilty of missing a host of big chances as Liverpool walked a tightrope for nearly an hour, but made amends with a sumptuous finish from a narrow angle after Keita’s header had settled the holders’ nerves.

Salzburg had scored 87 goals in 24 previous games this season, including three when Liverpool edged a seven-goal thriller between the two back in October.

But Norwegian wonder kid Erling Braut Haaland was thwarted as the Reds recorded their first clean sheet in the Champions League this season.

READ ALSO: France Extend Deschamps’ Contract Until 2022

Liverpool needed goalkeeper Alisson Becker to be at his best early on as the Brazilian blocked from Takumi Minamino and Haaland.

However, the better chances were coming for the Premier League leaders at the other end.

Salah dragged his first big chance wide on his favoured left foot at the end of a brilliant Liverpool break from one end of the field to the other.

Keita had been rewarded for his goalscoring return to the team in Saturday’s 3-0 win at Bournemouth and seemed keen to make a mark against his former side.

But the Guinea midfielder failed to beat Cican Stankovic when played in by Salah’s slick reverse pass in first half stoppage time.

Salah was the culprit of more missed opportunities at the start of the second half when he fired over from Sadio Mane’s brilliant through ball and seconds later he was denied by Stankovic as he tried to round the goalkeeper.

Liverpool’s profligacy could have been punished when Haaland had his big chance to live up to the hype linking him with a host of Europe’s top clubs, but the 19-year-old hit the side-netting with just Alisson to beat.

Seconds later the visitors finally made the breakthrough when the two ex-Salzburg men in Mane and Keita combined.

Stankovic rashly rushed off his line as Mane sped onto Andy Robertson’s pass and his dinked cross was headed into an unguarded net by Keita.

A minute later, any hope left for Salzburg to spring an upset evaporated when Salah implausibly scored from the most difficult chance he had all evening.

The Egyptian seemed to have been forced too far wide on his right foot as Stankovic raced from his goal once again, but Salah somehow bent the ball with unerring accuracy into the far corner.

In each of the last two seasons Liverpool have also needed to get points in their final group game before going onto reach the final and no one will want to face Klopp’s men again come the knockout stages.

A first Premier League title in 30 years may be the priority on Merseyside with an eight-point lead over Leicester at the top of the table.

AFP

 

Salah Double Ensures Liverpool Survive Salzburg Scare

 

Liverpool survived a huge scare to get their Champions League defence back on track as Mohamed Salah scored twice in a thrilling 4-3 win over Salzburg at Anfield, despite blowing a three-goal lead.

Sadio Mane opened the scoring against his former club before Andy Robertson and Salah put the holders in command inside the first 36 minutes before Salzburg bore their teeth.

Liverpool’s storied history in this competition has been littered with famous comebacks from 3-0 down, but the shoe was nearly on the other foot after half-time as Salzburg threatened an incredible recovery.

The Austrian champions’ teenage striking sensation Erling Braut Haaland was only fit enough for a place on the bench, but they still packed a punch going forward and were rewarded when Hwang Hee-Chan pulled a goal back just before half-time.

Takumi Minamino and Haaland, just four minutes after coming on as a substitute, then brought Salzburg level on the hour mark.

However, Salah had the final word as the Egyptian smashed home the winner 21 minutes from time.

Liverpool were under pressure to make fortress Anfield count after losing 2-0 to Napoli on matchday one.

Jurgen Klopp’s men lost all three of their away group games last season, but won all three of their home games to sneak through before going on to win the competition for a sixth time.

Slick attacking football

Normal service looked set to be resumed as the holders roared into a 3-0 lead thanks to some slick attacking football.

The Reds are well aware of Salzburg’s pedigree of developing fine young players, and it was one of their former alumni that opened the scoring as Mane exchanged passes with Roberto Firmino before slotting into the far corner.

Another fine team move made it 2-0 as one full-back, Trent Alexander Arnold, crossed for another in Robertson to convert just his second ever Liverpool goal like a striker.

Salah was then on hand to finish from close range after Cican Stankovic could only parry Firmino’s header back into the danger area.

Salzburg have now scored 51 goals in their first 12 games this season and were given hope as Liverpool eased off the accelerator towards the end of the first half.

Minamino had already fired a warning shot that Adrian turned behind before the visitors’ fightback began in earnest.

Hwang left Virgil van Dijk on the floor as the South Korean turned inside and fired into the far corner.

Klopp was growing visibly frustrated on the touchline as his side failed to cope with Salzburg’s pressing and incisive passing through midfield and even the German could not find a solution at half-time as Salzburg came out flying.

The second Salzburg goal was coming and finally arrived when Minamino volleyed in from Hwang’s cross.

Haaland, who scored a hat-trick on his Champions League debut in the 6-2 thrashing of Genk on matchday one, was then introduced and instantly offered an even more direct threat.

The Norwegian should have scored when he fired into the side-netting with just Adrian to beat, but moments later the 19-year-old tapped in at the back post after a purposeful break from the impressive Minamino.

Anfield was shocked, but not silenced and the home fans helped rouse the Liverpool into a response of champions.

Salah was quickest to react to a Firmino knockdown inside the area and smashed past the onrushing Stankovic to restore Liverpool’s lead and secure a vital three points.

Salzburg Force Extra Time In Europa Semi-Final With Marseille

Salzburg Force Extra Time In Europa Semi-Final With Marseille
Salzburg’s Xaver Schlager shoots before his team’s second goal during the UEFA Europa League semi-final second leg match between FC Salzburg and Olympique de Marseille (OM) on May 3, 2018 in Salzburg, Austria. DANIEL KRUG / APA / AFP

 

Austrian side Salzburg sent their Europa League semi-final with Marseille to extra time on Thursday with a 2-0 second-leg victory after 90 minutes.

Trailing 2-0 after the first leg in France last week, Salzburg kept things tight in the first period before a rousing second-half performance.

Amadou Haidara halved the aggregate deficit with an excellent individual goal in the 53rd minute, and Marseille full-back Bouna Sarr put through his own net.

Rudi Garcia’s visitors, bidding to become the first French side to reach a European final since 2004, survived some late scares to force a further half-hour.

The winner will face Atletico Madrid in the final in Lyon on May 16.

AFP

Marseille Take Control In Europa League Semi-Final Against Salzburg

Marseille Take Control In Europa League Semi-Final Against Salzburg
Marseille’s players celebrate their victory at the end of the UEFA Europa League first-leg semi-final football match between Olympique de Marseille and FC Salzburg at the Velodrome Stadium in Marseille, southeastern France, on April 26, 2018. Photo: Pascal GUYOT / AFP

 

Florian Thauvin and substitute Clinton Njie netted to give Marseille a 2-0 win over Salzburg in their Europa League semi-final first leg on Thursday, keeping the French club’s dreams of European glory alive.

Dimitri Payet set up both goals for OM at a packed Velodrome, as more than 62,000 fans saw Thauvin grab an opener that had more than a suspicion of handball about it.

Cameroon international Njie then made it 2-0 less than three minutes after coming off the bench in the second half, to leave Marseille firmly in control of the tie ahead of next week’s return in Austria.

Marseille are desperate to reach a Europa League final that will be played in France, at the home of their bitter rivals Lyon, on May 16.

They are aiming to win a second European trophy, a quarter of a century after their triumph in the inaugural Champions League final in 1993.

Rudi Garcia’s side would perhaps not be the favourites if they did make it through to face either Arsenal or Atletico Madrid, who drew 1-1 in London in Thursday’s other game.

However, they have enough quality in their ranks to trouble anyone, even if Salzburg might feel aggrieved at not at least grabbing an away goal.

The opener arrived with just 15 minutes played, as Salzburg goalkeeper Alexander Walke came for a Payet free-kick but couldn’t get to it, and Thauvin arrived to finish at the back post with a combination of his head and an arm.

Scottish referee Willie Collum did not see anything wrong with the goal, and he also waved away Salzburg penalty appeals early in the second half when Stefan Lainer went down as he crashed into Maxime Lopez in the box.

Moments after that, Marseille goalkeeper Yohann Pele produced an excellent save to deny Hannes Wolf, and the home side doubled their lead in the 63rd minute.

Substitute Njie released Payet down the left and then controlled the return ball in the box before firing home, sparking jubilant scenes in the vast home crowd.

Norwegian substitute Fredrik Gulbrandsen hit the post with a half-volley at the other end late on, and Salzburg may live to regret not scoring that precious away goal as they look to become the first Austrian side to reach a European final in over 20 years.

AFP