Bayern’s Robert Lewandowski, right, celebrates with Bayern’s Thomas Mueller after scoring his sides first goal during the Champions League Group A match between Bayern Munich and RB Salzburg at the Allianz Arena in Munich, Czech Republic, Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2020. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader)
Robert Lewandowski scored again to help Bayern Munich reach the knockout stages of the Champions League with a 3-1 win over Salzburg on Wednesday, the defending champion’s record-extending 15th straight win in the competition.
Lewandowski gave Bayern the lead in the 43rd minute with his 71st Champions League goal, matching Spanish forward Raúl’s tally. Only Cristiano Ronaldo (131) and Lionel Messi (118) have more.
Bayern’s 20-year-old American defender Chris Richards started for his Champions League debut, taking the place of Lucas Hernández on the left. Richards switched to the right when Hernández, who picked up a knock in his previous game, came on in the 62nd.
Spanish midfielder Marc Roca also made his first European start for Bayern. But the former Espanyol midfielder, who had made only one Bundesliga appearance since joining in the offseason, was sent off in the 66th minute with his second yellow card for a late challenge on Zlatko Junuzović.
The game was preceded by a minute’s silence in the largely empty stadium for Argentina great Diego Maradona, who died earlier Wednesday. No fans were at the game due to coronavirus restrictions.
The Austrian champions took the game to their hosts but were unable to capitalize on the spaces and chances they created.
Dominik Szoboszlai could have scored on a counterattack in the 35th minute but fired well over when he only had goalkeeper Manuel Neuer to beat.
Salzburg was to rue its lack of efficiency when Lewandowski broke the deadlock. The Poland striker set up Thomas Müller with his heel, and was in the right place to fire in the rebound after Cican Stanković saved his teammate’s effort.
Bayern has 12 points from four games in Group A, seven more than Atlético Madrid, which was held 0-0 by Lokomotiv Moscow. Bayern next visits Atlético on Dec. 1 before completing the group at home against Lokomotiv on Dec. 9.
Real Madrid win 2-0 at 10-man Inter
Real Madrid produced its most complete performance yet in this season’s Champions League to beat 10-man Inter Milan 2-0 on Wednesday.
Eden Hazard converted a penalty early in the first half and Rodrygo’s header deflected in off Inter defender Achraf Hakimi in the 59th minute as Madrid remained one point behind Group B leader Borussia Mönchengladbach, which eased to a 4-0 win over Shakhtar Donetsk.
The only other win for 13-time champion Madrid was a 3-2 victory over Inter in Spain three weeks ago, after it opened with a stunning home loss to Shakhtar.
Gladbach leads the group with eight points, Madrid has seven, Shakhtar has four and Inter two.
Before kickoff, the teams lined the center circle for a minute of silence in honor of soccer great Diego Maradona, who died Wednesday at 60. The San Siro was empty of fans due to the coronavirus.
Nicolò Barella was penalized for running into Nacho to set up Hazard’s penalty.
Madrid midfielder Lucas Vázquez then hit the post and Inter midfielder Arturo Vidal picked up his second yellow card after barely more than a half hour — apparently for protests.
Substitute Vázquez also provided the cross for Rodrygo’s header near the hour mark.
Iličić leads Atalanta to 2-0 win over Liverpool
Eight months after his spectacular four-goal show in last season’s round of 16, Josip Iličić was back on the scoresheet in the Champions League for Atalanta and leading the Italian upstart to another memorable win in the competition.
Atalanta consigned Liverpool to a rare loss at Anfield on Wednesday, beating the six-time European champions 2-0 to revive its hopes of qualifying for the knockout stage for the second straight season.
Iličić set the visitors on their way to victory with a 60th-minute strike that was the Slovenia international’s first goal for Atalanta since March, when he netted four times in a 4-3 win at Valencia to secure his team a place in the quarterfinals against all the odds.
Since then, Iličić contracted the coronavirus during lockdown and reportedly became depressed, meaning he missed the rest of the season — including Atalanta’s loss to Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League’s last eight — when soccer resumed in June.
He only started playing again for the first team last month, and showed his joy at getting back among the goals against Liverpool by letting out a roar and clenching his fists inside an empty Anfield.
Robin Gosens added a second goal in the 64th minute and Atalanta held on surprisingly comfortably to gain a measure of revenge for its 5-0 thrashing by Liverpool in the first match of their double-header three weeks ago.
Man City advance after Foden’s winner
Phil Foden sent Pep Guardiola another reminder of his scoring ability by earning Manchester City a 1-0 win at Olympiakos on Wednesday, clinching the English team a place in the knockout stage of the Champions League for an eighth straight season.
The highly rated 20-year-old forward is the rising star in City’s squad but has been unable to secure regular game time in the Premier League this season despite the team’s unfamiliar struggles in front of goal.
Guardiola gave Foden a start against the Greek champions in Piraeus and the England international responded by sweeping in the only goal of the game in the 36th minute after meeting a backheel from Raheem Sterling with a first-time shot.
In a game that resembled an attack vs. defense training drill at times, City failed to make its dominance count in terms of goals but barely allowed Olympiakos into the visitors’ penalty area, ultimately strolling to a victory that guarantees a top-two finish in Group C.
City has won all four of its games so far in what, on paper, always looked like one of the weakest groups in terms of overall quality. The team has never won Europe’s elite competition despite the vast spending of its Abu Dhabi ownership, and Guardiola hasn’t led a side to the title since the second of his triumphs with Barcelona in 2011.
Gladbach beat Shakhtar to put pressure on Inter
Breel Embolo scored with an overhead kick as Borussia Mönchengladbach eased to a 4-0 win over Shakhtar Donetsk on Wednesday to close in on a spot in the Champions League knockout stage.
Gladbach maintained its lead at the top of Group B and put more pressure on Inter Milan, which lost 2-0 to Real Madrid to fall six points behind the German club with two games to go. Madrid is one point behind Gladbach, while Shakhtar is four points back.
Gladbach was already two goals up before Swiss striker Embolo leapt to hit the ball in over his head after it was headed on at a free kick, leaving his marker Alan Patrick as a mere spectator. It was Embolo’s first goal after he went scoreless in his first eight games of 2020-21 across all competitions.
“They’d all say in the locker room that it’s typical Breel that the tricky one goes in and the easy ones don’t,” he told broadcaster DAZN.
Embolo had a large part in Gladbach’s first goal, too, as he charged into the penalty area off a pass from Lars Stindl and was brought down by Serhiy Kryvtsov’s desperate tackle. Stindl stepped up to hit the resulting penalty and sent goalkeeper Andriy Pyatov the wrong way.