CL round-up: Messi double rescues PSG

Lionel Messi scored twice in quick succession, including an exquisite Panenka-style penalty, to rescue Paris Saint-Germain as they rallied to beat RB Leipzig 3-2 at the Parc des Princes.

Messi equalised in the 67th minute, poking home from close range after goalkeeper Peter Gulacsi tipped his first shot onto the post before dinking a penalty down the middle for his third goal since joining PSG from Barcelona.

Messi scored a Panenka-style penalty against RB Leipzig
Messi scored a Panenka-style penalty against RB Leipzig

Kylian Mbappe opened the scoring for the hosts in the ninth minute before goals from Andre Silva and Nordi Mukiele turned the game in RB Leipzig’s favour.

However, Messi took over in the closing stages to secure an important win for Mauricio Pochettino’s side.

In Group A’s other game, Riyad Mahrez scored twice as Man City produced a scintillating attacking display to crush Club Brugge 5-1 in Belgium.

Group B: Porto inflict more pain on Milan

AC Milan suffered a third straight defeat in this season's Champions League
AC Milan suffered a third straight defeat in this season’s Champions League

Despite being unbeaten in Serie A so far this season, AC Milan cannot find a way to win in the Champions League.

Making their first group-phase appearance in eight years, Milan were beaten 1-0 at Porto in Group B on Tuesday for their third straight defeat in the competition thanks to Luis Diaz’s 65th-minute winner.

It’s the first time that Milan, who brought Zlatan Ibrahimovic on in the second half, have lost the first three matches in the group stage of the Champions League.

Elsewhere in the group, Liverpool lead the way with a maximum nine points from their three games following victory at Atletico Madrid.

Mohamed Salah scored twice as Liverpool eventually won a thrilling battle with Atletico Madrid 3-2, in a game which featured an Antoine Griezmann-inspired two-goal comeback from the hosts before he was sent off, and then late VAR drama when the Spanish side were awarded a penalty.

Group C: Big wins for Ajax and Sporting

Ajax hammered Borussia Dortmund 4-0
Ajax hammered Borussia Dortmund 4-0

Ajax produced a dominant display to rout Borussia Dortmund 4-0 and keep up their 100 per cent record in the Champions League this season.

An early own goal by Marco Reus from Dusan Tadic’s free kick was followed by decisive strikes from Daley Blind, Brazilian winger Antony and Sebastien Haller.

Ajax, who moved a step closer to a place in the next stage of the competition with victory, lead Group C by three points ahead of their previously unbeaten German visitors.

In the other game in Group C, Sebastian Coates waited years to score his first Champions League goal but only 12 minutes for the next one in Sporting Lisbon’s big win over Besiktas.

The Sporting captain scored two headers in almost identical circumstances and won a penalty for good measure, as he led his team to a 4-1 win in Turkey.

The Uruguay defender was left unmarked to head in when Pedro Goncalves’ corner was flicked on by Goncalo Inacio at the near post in the 15th minute before Cyle Larin equalised for Besiktas nine minutes later with a towering header from another corner.

Sporting restored the lead in the 27th minute with Coates’ second header, from the same position, again after a corner was flicked on and he nearly made it a hat-trick with yet another header, but this time Besiktas captain Domagoj Vida put his arm in the way as the Croatian gave away a penalty, converted by Pablo Sarabia just before half-time.

Paulinho hit the post and the crossbar in the second half, and finally scored with a curling shot in the 89th minute to wrap up the visitors’ victory.

Group D: Real get CL campaign back on track

Vinicius Junior scored twice as Real Madrid beat  Shakhtar Donetsk 5-0
Vinicius Junior scored twice as Real Madrid beat Shakhtar Donetsk 5-0

Vinicius Junior scored twice, including a wonderful solo goal, as Real Madrid put their Champions League campaign back on track with a 5-0 victory over Shakhtar Donetsk.

Carlo Ancelotti’s side, who responded in fine style to their embarrassing defeat in their previous Champions League match against Sheriff, took the lead in the 37th minute when Shakhtar captain Sergiy Kryvtsov turned Lucas Vazquez’s cross into his own net.

Vinicius Junior then lit up the second half by clipping the ball over goalkeeper Anatoliy Trubin after being played in by Luka Modric before scoring again five minutes later, cutting past Dodo and then Kryvtsov in the penalty area before finding a finish.

He then set up fellow Brazilian Rodrygo before Karim Benzema completed the rout in stoppage time after getting on the end of Marco Asensio’s cross.

The comprehensive victory sees the 13-time European champions move up to second place in Group D on six points.

Meanwhile, Sheriff remain top of the group based on the head-to-head with Madrid, despite losing 3-1 at Inter Milan.

Edin Dzeko scored one goal and set up another as Inter finally kick-started their Champions League campaign over previously unbeaten Sheriff on Tuesday.

Dzeko scored the opener and then set up Arturo Vidal for his side’s second, shortly after Sebastien Thill had equalised for Sheriff.

However, Stefan de Vrij all but sealed Inter’s first win of this season’s Champions League in the 67th minute.

Benzema stands trial in sex tape case

France and Real Madrid forward Karim Benzema went on trial in absentia on Wednesday, charged with complicity in the attempted blackmail of former international team-mate Mathieu Valbuena over a sex tape.

Prosecutors allege that Benzema, who has denied wrongdoing, encouraged Valbuena to pay a suspected group of blackmailers in order to keep the sexually explicit tape out of the public eye.

They say Valbuena received a first call threatening to expose the tape in June, 2015 while at the France squad’s training centre in Clairefontaine.

Valbuena told the court in Versailles on Wednesday that it was clear the caller wanted money, and that the blackmail attempt left him fearing for his career and place in the national squad.

Benzema was not in the court for the start of the trial because of professional obligations, said his lawyer, who has described the case against him as “absurd”.

The 33-year-old, who has played 92 times for his country and was recalled to the France squad for Euro 2020, scored in Real Madrid’s 5-0 Champions League win over Shakhtar Donetsk in Ukraine on Tuesday.

Mathieu Valbuena leaves the courtroom
Mathieu Valbuena leaves the courtroom on Wednesday

Benzema and Valbuena both lost their places in the national team in the wake of the scandal, dubbed the “sex tape affair”.

According to prosecutors, Valbuena’s anonymous first caller said he wanted to “come to an arrangement” with Valbuena and told him to name an intermediary.

The blackmailers initially turned to former French international Djibril Cisse to persuade Valbuena to pay the hush money. Instead, Cisse warned him of the extortion plot, Valbuena said.

An undercover police officer posed on Valbuena’s behalf as a middleman and recorded phone conversations between June and October 2015 that helped identify the alleged blackmailers, according to prosecutors.

Benzema was recruited by the alleged blackmailers to encourage Valbuena to pay as his team-mate stalled, they allege.

Among Benzema’s co-accused are his childhood friend Karim Zenati, who allegedly acted as an intermediary, and Mustapha Zouaoui, one of the suspected architects of the scam.

Zouaoui told reporters he had received the sex tape and shared it with Benzema and other members of the French team, but said there had never been an attempt to extort money from Valbuena.

“We kept the tape for ourselves,” Zouaoui said before the trial opened.

Benzema, who is accused of complicity to attempted blackmail, faces up to five years in jail and a €75,000 (£63,400) fine if convicted.

His four co-accused face charges of attempted blackmail.

Camavinga is Real Madrid’s new hope

It was the season before last, when Eduardo Camavinga was playing for Rennes and still just 17, that an opposition player suggested a shirt swap ‘before he signed for Real Madrid’.

Perhaps nobody should be too surprised that it turned out to be prophetic. On Sunday, fitness permitting, Camavinga will play for Real Madrid against Barcelona, the teenager making his first appearance in El Clasico, club football’s biggest fixture.

This can feel like a tawdry old business at times but the global game still has a way with stories and few are more inspiring than that of Camavinga. The boy born to Congolese parents in a refugee camp in Angola is already France’s youngest player in a century.

This is a rare talent, maybe even the complete midfielder. Sixteen years old when he was named man of the match as Rennes defeated Paris Saint-Germain, progress since has been serene. Real Madrid paid £34.4m for him and few doubt it is a bargain.

Millions will be touched by Camavinga’s tale before his journey is through but his success is felt particularly keenly at AGL-Drapeau Fougeres, the club that nurtured him from the age of 11. Last year, he returned to open the pitch they have already named after him.

Eduardo Camavinga returns to AGL-Drapeau Fougeres to be honoured [Source: Eduardo Camavinga, Instagram]
Returning to AGL-Drapeau Fougeres [Source: Eduardo Camavinga, Instagram]

Christophe Communier is a teacher by trade but he doubles up as club secretary and was coach of the U13 team in Fougeres when Camavinga joined them at the age of 11. “He was already at a higher level than the others,” Communier tells Sky Sports.

“He was a very good player, of course he was, and that is why he played with the older players. But we could never have imagined at this time that he would go on to become one of the best players in the world with Real Madrid and with France.”

Instead, he remembers a happy boy who loved life at the club.

“He enjoyed everything that he did here. He played football with a smile. He played tennis with his friends. He was always very polite and he still is. I met him again last year and even though he is now a professional player, he came up to me and he was easy to talk to.

“When his schedule permits, he will come here to see friends and to meet the children.”

Eduardo Camavinga continues to inspire youngsters at his childhood club AGL-Drapeau Fougeres
Eduardo Camavinga continues to inspire youngsters at his childhood club

As Communier talks to Sky Sports, he is overseeing a training session at the club, just 45 minutes from Rennes up the A84. As ever, he is watching over the next group of youngsters who are hoping that they can replicate the journey made by Camavinga.

It is a club with a history of producing talent. Lorient midfielder Fabien Lemoine also spent his formative years at AGL-Drapeau Fougeres. Time, however, like children, can be cruel. “He is 34 now and the children here do not really know him,” says Communier.

“They all know Eduardo Camavinga, especially because he comes back here. To the children, Eduardo is a star. For example, I have got young people in front of me now. A lot of them have a Stade Rennais jersey with the name of Camavinga on the back.

“For the children, it was actually more exciting when Eduardo was at Rennes because it is so close and we feel that link. Real Madrid is so far away. But most of the people here are watching the matches on television, of course. It is the biggest club in the world.”

Camavinga had little memory of his difficult start in life when he arrived at the club. But fresh in the memory was the house fire that he and his family had suffered. “He came to us just after that,” Communier explains. The Camavinga family lost almost everything.

The father turned to the son and told him that he represented their only hope now. Such pressure might have overwhelmed a young boy but there is no indication that it did anything other than inspire. Asked about it since, Camavinga has seemed untroubled.

His maturity has always been remarkable.

“I think it made more of a difference off the pitch than on it,” suggests Communier. “He was always smiling. It was his way. Maybe that was because of his beginning in life. Maybe his parents told him to be happy because of all that they had been through before.”

It is this, his character, that has impressed Carlo Ancelotti.

“Yes, it has surprised me a bit, that is the truth,” said the Real Madrid coach. “We all know the quality he has, physical and technical. Then on the pitch he has shown his personality. We did not know about that. What happens in games does not worry him, he is confident.”

No wonder football does not faze him. Nicknamed Iceman by his team-mates, precocious hardly does Camavinga justice. He ranked among the top 10 tacklers in Ligue 1 last season but he is a difficult player to pin down because he is a passer too, a dribbler even.

The move to Real Madrid was a bold one. He has joined a team in transition but time is a luxury afforded nobody in the Spanish capital. Camavinga’s response to such pressure? A goal within six minutes of his debut against Celta Vigo at the Bernabeu.

Over in Fougeres, the overriding emotions is pride, although perhaps they could be forgiven some disappointment that funding for their role in Camavinga’s development is unlikely to be forthcoming. Communier insists that reports of a windfall are incorrect.

“Most of the newspapers said that we would have hundreds of thousands of euros because of his move to Real Madrid. If he had stayed until he was a bit older before signing the contract with Rennes that would have been the case but he was too young.

“Maybe Stade Rennais will give us money but they do not have to.”

Eduardo Camavinga continues to inspire youngsters at his childhood club AGL-Drapeau Fougeres
A youngster at AGL-Drapeau Fougeres dreams of being the next Eduardo Camavinga

Still, the impact of Camavinga’s success is being felt in other ways. He continues to inspire the young boys and girls on the pitch that now bears his name. Ahead of El Clasico, there is an awareness that just to be part of this young man’s extraordinary story is a privilege.

“When you ask the children here who are six or seven, what they want to be when they are older, they all say the same thing.

“They all want to be Eduardo Camavinga.”

Perez hints at Mbappe deal in January

Real Madrid president Florentino Perez has hinted the Spanish club may reach a deal to sign Kylian Mbappe on January 1.

Mbappe’s contract with Paris Saint-Germain expires at the end of the season – and Madrid tried to sign him before the current campaign began, only to have their offers turned down.

The forward’s contract situation means he can negotiate with other teams from January 1, 2022.

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Spanish football journalist Alvaro Montero discusses the chances of Real Madrid putting together a deal to sign Erling Haaland from Borussia Dortmund

Perez told Spanish paper El Debate: “In January we will have news on Mbappe.

“Hopefully, everything can be sorted on January 1.”

However, Marca report that Perez later backtracked slightly, saying: “My words were misinterpreted.

Florentino Perez
Florentino Perez suggested Real could try and reach an agreement with Mbappe at the start of next year

“What I said is that we have to wait until next year to hear from him, always with respect to PSG with whom we have good relations.”

Perez’s initial comments prompted an angry reaction from PSG sporting director Leonardo.

“It’s been going on for two years,” the Brazilian told French sports daily L’Equipe. “I just remind you that the transfer window is closed, that a season is underway.

“There are matches and Real Madrid cannot continue to behave in this way. “Let it stop! Kylian is a player of Paris St Germain and the club wants this relationship to last.”

Mbappe himself has not totally ruled out staying at PSG beyond this season.

Asked if he was going to leave next summer, Mbappe told L’Equipe: “I’ve been in football long enough now to know that yesterday’s truth is not necessarily today’s, nor tomorrow’s.

“If I was told that [Lionel] Messi was going to play at PSG, I wouldn’t have believed it, so you never know what’s going to happen.”

Mbappe: I told PSG in July I wanted to leave

Kylian Mbappe has criticised Paris Saint-Germain for their handling of his failed transfer to Real Madrid and insisted he informed the French club of his desire to leave in July.

Real were prepared to spend £197m to sign the France World Cup winner in the summer but PSG refused to agree a sale, despite the forward’s contract running out at the end of the season.

Mbappe, 22, who joined PSG in 2017 in a transfer worth £165m, is able to sign a pre-contract agreement with another club in January.

Speaking to French radio station RMC Sport, Mbappe said: “I asked to leave. Because at the moment that I did not want to extend my contract I wanted the club to have a transfer fee to get a replacement of quality.

“It (PSG) is a club that has brought me a lot. I have always been happy, the four years I have spent here, and I still am.

“I wanted everyone to come out of this stronger, that we leave hand in hand, to make a good deal and I respected that.

“I said, ‘If you don’t want me to go I will stay’.”

Mbappe, who has won three Ligue 1 titles and three French Cups, is PSG’s top league goalscorer this season with four goals for Mauricio Pochettino’s side.

“People have said that I refused six or seven offers of extension, that I do not want to talk to [sporting director] Leonardo, this is absolutely not true,” he added.

“They told me ‘Kylian now you talk with the president.’

“Personally, I did not appreciate the fact that they said I came [with the news he wanted to leave] the last week of August. I said at the end of July that I wanted to go.”

PSG sporting director Leonardo said earlier this month he is confident Mbappe will sign a new contract at the Parc des Princes.