Napoli stars Raspadori and Kvaratshkelia are on fire, while Rangers veteran McGregor almost single-handedly kept Liverpool out… but do goalscoring right-backs James and Alexander-Arnold BOTH make our Champions League team of the week?
- An exhilerating third round of the Champions League group stages saw 51 goals
- Premier League sides had a much better week with all four sides going unbeaten
- Manchester City, Chelsea and Liverpool all won comprehensively this week
- However Tottenham were held to a 0-0 draw by a resolute Eintracht Frankfurt
- Bayern Munich, Real Madrid, Juventus and Inter Milan all also had a good week
- Sportsmail decides who makes the Champions League team of the week
Another thrilling round of Champions League games brought far more success to English sides in the competition, who went unbeaten in round three.
Manchester City put five past Copenhagen and were so comfortable in the tie that Pep Guardiola thought it safe to take off Erling Haaland at the break having scored just the two goals in the first half.
Liverpool recorded an important 2-0 win over Rangers – who are still without a point – and Chelsea put three past Serie A champions AC Milan, although Tottenham were held to a drab 0-0 draw with Eintracht Frankfurt.
There were 51 goals across both days, with Napoli scoring six and Bayern Munich five, and with several star performances who makes Sportsmail’s team of the week?
Manchester City put five past FC Copenhagen in a round of matches that saw 51 goals in total
Rangers once again struggled to make an impact on the biggest stage, as they fell to a third-consecutive defeat, but the 2-0 loss to Liverpool could have been far more embarrassing but for Allan McGregor, who made eight saves to spare his side’s blushes.
Despite a limp and toothless performance from his side, the veteran goalkeeper was hailed by Rangers fans for his stunning array of saves that belied his 40 years, as he somehow managed to keep his side in with a sniff late on.
He may have conceded twice but there was hardly anything he could have done about either goal; Trent Alexander-Arnold seemed to channel all the anger from heavy criticism in recent weeks into his unstoppable arcing free-kick, before Mohamed Salah made it two from 12 yards.
Only three Rangers players had more touches than Allan McGregor’s 52 against Liverpool
Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool)
With speculation surrounding not just his future with the national side, but whether or not he should even be playing for Liverpool, Trent Alexander-Arnold silenced his critics in emphatic style against Rangers on Tuesday.
With just seven minutes on the clock, the 23-year-old stepped up to produce a moment of magic, curling a stunning free-kick over the wall and into the top left corner from almost 30 yards out to give his side the lead.
And if that contender for goal of the week wasn’t enough, the England right-back went on to have more touches on the ball (96) than any of his team-mates, making one key pass and winning two aerial duels as he put on a classy display to help guide Liverpool to a second win of the tournament.
Trent Alexander-Arnold’s free-kick against Rangers came with just seven minutes on the clock
Aymeric Laporte (Manchester City)
In a game that saw City’s attacking talents flex their muscles, an assured display from a defender who has found it hard to break into the team of late ensured the Citizens kept a solid foundation at the back on Wednesday night.
No player on the pitch won more duels in the air than Aymeric Laporte (six), and an impressive display with the ball at his feet saw the Spanish international finish the game with 93 per cent passing accuracy from 105 passes.
Laporte lent the City defence an assured, calm head on a night that looked like any player at the Etihad could end up on the scoresheet, and his composed presence had a huge impact on the hosts’ dominant performance against Copenhagen.
Aymeric Laporte won six duels in Manchester City’s one-sided 5-0 win over Copenhagen
Stefan de Vrij (Inter Milan)
Holland international defender Stefan de Vrij had a contrasting game to Laporte, constantly putting out fires in Inter’s impressive 1-0 win over a Barcelona side headed by a certain Robert Lewandowski.
But the centre back dealt with the challenge with evident relish, making the joint most tackles and interceptions (four and three respectively) and leading his side for clearances (five) in a display that saw the Dutchman do Inter’s dirty work to great effect.
His ability to snuff out the danger meant that arguably Europe’s most distinguished finisher was kept quiet and likely could not wait to see the back of the 30-year-old centre-back, so persistent was he in his defensive duties.
Stefan de Vrij’s brilliant defensive display kept Robert Lewandowski quiet for Barcelona
Reece James (Chelsea)
Reece James was so mercurial against AC Milan that he needed to be shoe-horned in at left back, in a man of the match display that saw him assist and bag a goal of his own on a rampant evening in west London.
The Chelsea defender was at his attacking best as he constantly evaded Milan’s Fose Ballo-Toure at left back, providing the cross for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s second goal in a Chelsea shirt, before his own powerful near post strike five minutes later made it 3-0 to the Blues.
But he was also equally as impressive with his back against his own goal, making three tackles and winning an aerial battle and making one clearance to deny the visitors a sniff at goal, as the England defender continues to show his class.
Reece James dominant performance won him the Player of the Match award against AC Milan
Jude Bellingham (Borussia Dortmund)
Jude Bellingham continues to go from strength-to-strength, and another exceptional performance for Borussia Dortmund has surely lifted him into the bracket of one of the game’s best midfielders, despite being only 19-years-old.
A goal and an assist against Sevilla helped the Bundesliga outfit make light work of a potentially pot-hole ridden away trip to the Mestalla, but his mature and composed display – which oozed the class of veteran of 600-plus games – helped Dortmund ease to victory.
Bellingham became the youngest-ever captain to score in the Champions League, taking on the armband for the second time, with his sublime solo effort, having already teed up Portuguese left-back Raphael Guerreiro with a brilliant diagonal cross.
Jude Bellingham became the youngest ever captain to score in the Champions League
Adrien Rabiot (Juventus)
Adrien Rabiot made headlines this summer after Manchester United fans sneered at the prospect of bringing him to Old Trafford, but he showed on Wednesday night that he has all the attributes of a stand-out performer in the middle of the park.
Rabiot was a menace to the back-five of Maccabi Tel-Aviv all night, and he showed the 29,000 fans who were in attendance at a depleted Allianz Arena that he is far from just a defensive midfielder, scoring twice from deep inside the penalty box.
But the French international was equally prevalent at the back, making seven tackles and winning three aerial duels, as well as carrying the ball out of defence with proficiency in a performance that showed why he the Old Lady signed him in the first place.
French international Adrien Rabiot (left) scored twice in a brilliant midfield display
Hakan Calhanoglu (Inter Milan)
Hakan Calhanoglu’s goal on the stroke of half-time against Barcelona at the Giuseppe Meazza proved to be the difference in a very tense and controversy-filled affair on Tuesday night.
The former AC midfielder proved to be his side’s most potent attacking outlet, with both his sides shots on target in the game, and led his side for passes (37) and made two accurate crosses for his under pressure team-mates.
But it takes more than a glittering offensive performance to make the team of the week, and Calhanoglu was more than up to the task defensively, making three tackles, an interception and two clearances, as the Turkey international worked tirelessly to alleviate the mounting pressure all night.
Hakan Calhanoglu worked incessantly to keep Inter Milan ahead against Barcelona on Tuesday
Angel di Maria (Juventus)
He may be a little longer in the tooth now at 34, but Angel di Maria proved on Wednesday night that he is still one of the most ruthless forwards in European football as he orchestrated Juventus’ 3-1 win over Maccabi Tel-Aviv.
The Argentine managed three assists for his side, who have been desperately bereft of form, and he conducted his side’s offensive efforts with all the guile and class that you would expect from a perennial winner like him.
Commanding on the ball, Di Maria has the most touches for his team (75), the most key passes (six), crosses (five), and was second highest for shots (three), and third highest in passes (50), in what was a tremendous playmaking performance from the former Real Madrid, PSG and Manchester United forward.
Angel di Maria (left) was the best player on the pitch as Juventus finally got their first win
Giacomo Raspadori (Napoli)
In a week that saw 51 goals, it takes a special performance to take the No 9 position in the team of the week, but that is exactly what Giacomo Raspadori’s display for Napoli was as they trounced Ajax 6-1 in Amsterdam.
The Italians – who are unbeaten at the top of Serie A – once again showed why the rest of Europe should start taking them seriously, and the 22-year-old was at the heart of the Neapolitans’ ruthless showing.
After cancelling out Mohammed Kudus’ opener with his head, the Italy international then curled in his side’s fourth of the night just after half-time before teeing up Kvicha Kvaratslhelia’s strike to finish the game with two goals from two shots on target and two key passes.
With the likes of Manchester United on the hunt for a new No 9, why look further than a player who is already lighting up both Serie A and the Champions League at just 22?
Giacomo Raspadori scored twice and gave an assist as Napoli beat Ajax 6-1 in Amsterdam
Kvicha Kvaratskhelia (Napoli)
And rounding off the team of the week, is Raspadori’s attacking team-mate Kvicha Kvaratskhelia who is having a break out season with Napoli that has already turned the heads of Europe’s elite.
And the Georgian international was at his scintillating best once again as the Neapolitans put Ajax to the sword, with his side’s most shots (five) and shots on target (three), as well as making one key pass and winning two aerial battles.
The 21-year-old forward has been involved with just under 25 per cent of his side’s goals in the Champions League, and his fearless ability to take on defenders with the ball at his feet is seeing him fast turn into one of the most dangerous forwards in Europe.
Kvicha Kvaratskhelia’s goal against Ajax was his sixth of the season for Serie A leaders Napoli
NOTABLE MENTIONS: Erling Haaland (Manchester City), Riyad Mahrez (Manchester City), Ferran Jutgla (Club Brugge), Giovanni di Lorenzo (Napoli)
Several players were unfortunate not to make the team this week, so high was the quality of individual and team performances this round.
Erling Haaland, naturally, scored twice in a mere 25 minutes, but only failed to make the side as Raspadori made and assist and the Norwegian was substituted at half-time.
Riyad Mahrez was another City player to shine against the Danish side, with a goal from 12 yards and an assist to his name.
Ferran Jutgla made the side last round, but will have to settle for an honourable mention after his goal and assist helped Club Brugge see off Atletico Madrid.
And lastly Giovanni di Lorenzo, who will likely be cursing the glut of English right-backs, after his own goalscoring display against Ajax.
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