August 5, 2021, 1:37

Champions League hits and misses: Man City’s injury problems mount up after Chelsea thriller

Champions League hits and misses: Man City’s injury problems mount up after Chelsea thriller

From Heung-Min Son’s double to a thriller at Stamford Bridge and injury problems for Manchester City, we pick out the key stories from this week’s Champions League…

Salvation for Son in Serbia

The distressing scenes at Goodison Park on Sunday will live long in the memory for all of the wrong reasons – the horrific injury to Andre Gomes, the gasps from those in the crowd, the outpouring of grief from Heung-Min Son.

Son, understandably, felt responsible for Gomes’ injury; his emotional reaction proved that. There were fears over how Gomes would recover, fears which were allayed by confirmation that surgery on his ankle had gone well, but also concern over whether Son would be affected psychologically.

  • Red Star 0-4 Tottenham – Match report
  • Champions League scores and results | Champions League tables
  • How the teams lined up

The rescinding of Son’s red card absolved the South Korean of blame and, with the weight of the world off his shoulders, he produced a performance in Belgrade just when he and his side – who have struggled notoriously away from home – needed it.

With Sunday’s incident clearly still on his mind, Son was tentative to begin with, displaying a degree of caution ahead of contact with Red Star players, but there was nothing tentative about his finishing as he took his tally in this season’s Champions League to five goals with Spurs’ second and third goals.

The footballing family have rightfully wished Gomes a speedy recovery, but here’s to Son having one too. After all, the Son we know and love plays with a smile on his face, and Spurs’ victory will have gone some way to sealing its return.

Jack Wilkinson

Walking wounded City?

Liverpool fans will have been watching on with glee at the chaotic nature of Manchester City’s 1-1 draw with Atalanta. Ederson suffered an injury and was replaced by Claudio Bravo before he got sent off and emergency goalkeeper Kyle Walker answered the call. A quiet night had looked on the cards when Raheem Sterling put Pep Guardiola’s men in front, but mistakes at both ends of the pitch resulted in City having a much more stressful night than ideal.

  • Pep unsure if Ederson fit for Liverpool

City travel to Anfield on Sunday knowing that a defeat would see them fall nine points behind in the Premier League title race and the injury problems are mounting for Guardiola. Ederson looks likely to join David Silva in becoming the latest man to be ruled out after the midfielder picked up a muscle injury against Southampton. They would be part of an already crowded treatment room that consists of Rodri, Oleksandr Zinchenko, Leroy Sane and Aymeric Laporte.

  • Atalanta 1-1 Man City – Match report
  • Champions League scores and results | Champions League tables
  • How the teams lined up

Many will argue City are well stocked for personnel in reserve but having to trust the 36-year-old Bravo in the Anfield pressure cooker will be a worry for everyone associated with City. The Chilean looked low on confidence in his second-half stint in the San Siro and you cannot really blame him for the rustiness considering he has only played two Premier League games in the last two years.

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Remember, Guardiola also has Scott Carson in his squad. If Ederson does not make it, would Guardiola throw in the on-loan Derby man for an extraordinary debut in what is the biggest game of the season so far? However you look at it, Guardiola has plenty to ponder in the coming days.

Lewis Jones

Chelsea show heart in thriller with Ajax

Some players collapsed to the turf in exhaustion at the final whistle. Others stood with their hands on their hips, dazed and confused by what they had experienced. In the stands, the fans were similarly stunned. This was a game that defied logic. This was a 4-4 draw that had it all and one that will live long in the memory.

  • Chelsea 4-4 Ajax – Match report
  • Champions League scores and results | Champions League tables
  • How the teams lined up

Chelsea were staring humiliation in the face at one stage in this crazy game but it is a measure of how much goodwill this young side has accrued recently, though, that there was no hint of protest among the home fans. They stuck with their team and with the help of a double sending-off plus an intense period of pressure, Chelsea’s young guns showed they hold no fear of topping Europe’s elite.

Frank Lampard will be concerned by the defensive frailties which allowed Ajax to score four goals, not to mention the naivety of conceding repeated free kicks to a side who were proving so dangerous from set pieces, but the result keeps Chelsea on track for the knock-out stages and the comeback reinforces the feeling that this group can achieve something special.

Nick Wright

Liverpool win but questions remain

Once again, Liverpool found a way to win against Genk despite not being at their best, which seems to be a theme running through their performances recently. Just like two weeks ago, Genk pushed Liverpool all the way and even threatened to cause an upset when they equalised at the end of the first half.

  • Liverpool 2-1 Genk – Match report
  • Champions League scores and results | Champions League tables
  • How the teams lined up

Having been on the front foot for much of the opening period, Jurgen Klopp’s side momentarily switched off in defence as Mbwana Samatta powered a header past Alisson in a copycat effort from the reverse fixture. On that occasion, it had been ruled out for offside in the build-up but Liverpool would not get the same reprieve twice. Liverpool have now failed to keep a clean sheet in eight games, which will be a concern for Klopp as they head into their vital Premier League clash with Manchester City on Sunday, live on Sky Sports, with Guardiola’s side hardly renowned for their stingy attack.

But it is not just the defence that needs some work, with Liverpool extremely wasteful with their finishing on Tuesday. Three or four opportunities spring to mind where Mohamed Salah dragged an effort wide with a number of other players sending the ball spraying off in all directions. On two occasions, Virgil van Dijk should have buried headers from corners, as the effects of poor finishing spread throughout the team.


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