CL hits and misses: Doku helps Man City begin road to Wembley on front foot

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Doku puts Man City on front foot in CL title defence

Not for the first time, the Man City supporters were laughing at the misfortune of a Glazer. Julian Alvarez came to the rescue for the holders, who survived a major scare before seeing off Red Star Belgrade 3-1 at the Etihad Stadium.

Omri Glazer had frustrated them for an hour but the Red Star goalkeeper then flapped into his own net and Pep Guardiola’s men motored on.

Bernardo Silva’s fitness is now a concern after he hobbled off before half-time but his replacement Jeremy Doku, fresh from scoring his first City goal at the weekend, impressed again.

Guardiola had described the Belgian as ‘shy’ during his first appearance against Fulham earlier this month, but it was he who led the second-half charge alongside Alvarez.

City’s night of glory in the Ataturk Stadium 103 days ago remains etched in the psyche of Citizens but Guardiola told his players they are ‘back at the bottom of the mountain’ as they look to now retain their Champions League crown.

Having someone like Doku eager to push for his first piece of City silverware ensures potential shocks such as on Tuesday night are eventually avoided with ease as the holders began their road to Wembley on the front foot.
Ben Grounds

Newcastle underwhelming on long-awaited return

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Newcastle picked up a vital point after holding Milan to a 0-0 draw in their first Champions League game for over 20 years

The hype around Newcastle’s Champions League return had been building ever since they secured their top-four place in the spring, which is perhaps why this performance felt so underwhelming.

Howe’s side can be excused for their limp performance given they fielded eight Champions League debutants, while it should not be forgotten that Milan reached the semi-finals of this competition just a few months ago.

But it’s now just two wins from six games in all competitions for Newcastle, who haven’t played well since thrashing Aston Villa on the opening day of the season.

If they want to emerge from the toughest of the eight Champions League groups, Newcastle will have to show more than they mustered in Milan.
Joe Shread

Celtic need to learn lessons

ROTTERDAM, NETHERLANDS - SEPTEMBER 19: Celtic's Matt O'Riley and Callum McGregor look dejected as their side goes 1-0 behind during a UEFA Champions League Group E Match between Feyenoord and Celtic at Stadion Feijenoord De Kuip, on September 19, 2023, in Rotterdam, Netherlands. (Photo by Paul Devlin / SNS Group)

Image: Celtic have not won away in the Champions League since 2017

It was the same old story for Celtic in the Champions League, they had their chances but ultimately suffered another away defeat.

They started brightly and had the best of the early chances but the timing of Feyenoord’s opening goal could not have been worse.

It gave the hosts a lift after the break and their increasing pressure saw Celtic fall apart.

One red card makes it tough but two makes it almost impossible. Gustaf Lagerbielke might have been unfortunate, but Thiago Odin Holm can have no complaints about his dismissal.

Celtic can take some positives from the opening stages, but they will need to improve and cut out the mistakes ahead of their first home tie against Lazio next month.
Alison Conroy

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