The 2019-20 Champions League group stage officially got underway on Tuesday with eight matches, some surprising results and American history. Lionel Messi finally made his first appearance of the season in Barca's 0-0 draw at Dortmund, while American Jesse Marsch became the first American to coach a Champions League game, while also becoming the first to win a game in the competition.
Here's a look at the scoreboard and what to know as eight matches brought us 21 goals - eight of which came in one game,
Champions League scores
· Inter Milan 1, Slavia Prague 1
· Lyon 1, Zenit 1
· Barcelona 0, Dortmund o
· Valencia 1, Chelsea 0
· Red Bull Salzburg 6, Genk 2
· Napoli 2, Liverpool 0
· Ajax 3, Lille 0
· RB Leipzig 2, Benfica 1
Liverpool starts title defense with a dud
In a wild match featured some incredible goalkeeping on both sides, Napoli found the back of the net twice in the late stages to beat Liverpool at home. Napoli beat the Reds last season in the group stage and did it again with a valiant performance where Jurgen Klopp's team had just four shots on goal. Dries Mertens scored the winner from the penalty kick spot in the 82nd minute, and former Tottenham striker Fernando Llorente scored his first goal for the club in added time, as Liverpool starts its title defense with a dud.
And though this didn't end up impacting the final score much, look at this save from Adrian on Mertens in the second half with the score 0-0. Bonkers.
Liverpool lost every road games in the group stage last season, and we know how Klopp's squad fared in the knockout stage. It's still early, so there's no cause for concern, but Liverpool became the first reigning champ to lose its opener the following season since AC Milan lost to Ajax back in 1994.
American history made on European stage
Awesome story here with Jesse Marsch, who just a couple years back was coaching in MLS with the New York Red Bulls before joining RB Leipzig as an assistant. Now in his first season in charge of Red Bull Salzburg in Austria, Marsch became the first American to coach a game in the Champions League, and his squad came up with three points in his debut in a big way. Red Bull Salzburg picked up a convincing 6-2 victory at home over Genk on Tuesday.
Nineteen-year-old Norwegian prospect Erling Haland had a hat trick in the first half:
I, and what stuck with me was the confidence in which he spoke. When I asked him about being in such a tough group with Napoli and Liverpool and how if he'd be happy with finishing third, he said his aim isn't third, but his aim is to win the tournament. His players show that type of confidence, and what a perfect start. Watch out for them.
Welcome back, Messi
Messi played a half an hour in what was not a bad result (scoreless draw on the road) by any standard for Barcelona when you consider Dortmund had a couple chances to break the deadlock, including Marco Reus' penalty kick attempt saved by Marc-Andre Ter Stegen.
In the end for Barca, it's good for the squad to have Messi back on the field but it may take a game or two for him to get fully back into the swing of things.
Chelsea falls as Pulisic rides the bench
Christian Pulisic did not play a minute in his potential Champions League debut for the Blues as Ross Barkley was the one who came on in the second half to try and turn the tide. Barkley ended up missing a late penalty kick as Valencia escaped with a 1-0 win thanks to this goal from Rodrigo.
Ajax is rolling, but the celebrations need work
Ajax rolled over Lille 3-0 as the last season's Champions League semifinalists started off strongly despite losing top talent over the summer. It wasn't much of a contest, and those who watched it were probably left wondering what is up with Dusan Tadic's celebration. The Ajax captain (playfully, we hope?) smacked David Neres in a hilarious moment.
No pain, no gain.
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