James Sands

Most Yanks had a difficult second round of Champions League group-stage games, with James Sands seeing red in Rangers’ heavy loss at Napoli, and Gio Reyna’s promising return to Dortmund’s staring XI marred by a late Citeh come-back.

Manchester City 2 – 1 Borussia Dortmund

Gio Reyna did his part to leave Borussia Dortmund in a strong position to take an unlikely win at Manchester City on Wednesday, however a pair of late goals by the English giants saw the evening spoiled.

Reyna was deployed by Dortmund coach Edin Terzic on the right side of a three-man front-line, and played a total of 62 minutes before being subbed out. In his hour, he had 33 total touches, completed 12 or 19 passes, won three of his nine duels, and drew one foul for the under-fire visitors.

After a scoreless first half, a Reyna corner triggered the unexpected Dortmund go-ahead goal in the 56th minute.

The American sent an outswinging ball into the area which was headed towards top left corner of the area by Salih Özcan. Marco Reus was in perfect position to collect the ball and fire a pass towards the near post that Jude Bellingham headed in for the 1-0 lead.

Reyna left the field six minutes later for Donyell Malen after his solid hour-long shift. While Dortmund initially withstood the pressure, they finally cracked in the final minutes before the closing whistle.

In the 80th minute, John Stones equalized with a 20-yard blast to the upper right corner from just outside of the area, then former Reyna teammate Erling Haaland put the Mancunians on top just past the 83-minute mark, acrobatically contorting himself in midair to side-foot Joao Cancelo’s deep pass into the net.

The tough loss leaves Dortmund second place in Group G, still comfortably ahead of Copenhagen and Sevilla. They host archrivals Schalke in Bundesliga action on Saturday, and their next Champions League game is Oct. 5 with a visit to last-place Sevilla.

Rangers 0 – 3 Napoli

James Sands had perhaps his worst outing in the Light Blues jersey on Wednesday night, getting sent off early in the second half to trigger a home collapse by Rangers to visiting Napoli.

Before receiving his marching orders, Sands had a mediocre game in the center of the defense, with 41 touches, 30 of 36 completed passes, three long balls in seven attempts, and only three of seven duels won, alongside four total fouls committed.

Malik Tillman played the final eight minutes for the hosts, but had little impact with no shots or chances created.

All of the action happened after the break, with Sands receiving his first booking in the 53rd minute, then being correctly whistled for a penalty, and receiving his second booking two minutes later when he tripped up Giovanni Simeone on a run into the area with the game still scoreless.

While Rangers keeper Allan McGregor blocked Piotr Zielinski’s initial attempt as well as his do-over following a VAR review, Matteo Politano did put the Italians ahead in the 68th minute from the spot, following a handball by Borna Barisic.

Napoli doubled their lead with just over five minutes left in regulation, with Giacomo Raspadori finishing a give-and-go with Mathias Olivera by powering his way to a shot from ten yards, then Tanguy Ndombélé put any come-back hopes to rest in injury time, striking from the middle of the area following a bad Rangers turnover.

Rangers are last in Group A with no points from their first two games. They play Dundee United and Hearts in domestic action before trying to rescue their European campaign with a tough trip to Liverpool on Oct. 4.

AC Milan 3 – 1 Dinamo Zagreb

Sergiño Dest was a late substitute for AC Milan as they were able to secure top spot in Group E with a road win over Dinamo Zagreb on Wednesday.

Oliver Giroud put the Italian champions ahead in the first minute of first-half injury time striking from the spot after Josip Sutalo barely tripped up Rafael Leao inside the area.

Alexis Saelemaekers wasted no time in keeping the momentum going, rising high to head in a cross from the left side by Rafael Leao exactly one minute after the break.

Islav Orsic did give the visitors some hope of a shocking result with his gently finessed strike between a pair of Milan defenders, just inside the right edge of the Milan goal just past the 55-minute mark.

However Tommaso Pogeba strick a powerful shot from near the penalty area off the underside of the crossbar and over the line in the 77th minute to secure the win.

With the result already assured, Dest entered the field in place of center midfielder Brahim Diaz with 12 minutes left, and had a decent, albeit limited outing with one shot and a flawless passing rate amongst his eight touches.

The victory gives Milan sole reign over Group E with four points. They face Napoli and Empoli in their next two Serie A games, before having a pair of group games against faltering Chelsea.

Chelsea 1 – 1 RB Salzburg

Christian Pulisic saw little improvement of his situation under new coach Graham Potter on Wednesday night, being relegated to a late substitute role in Chelsea’s deflating home draw against Red Bull Salzburg.

The American star was left on the bench from the get-go and was only brought onto the field in the 84th minute as the Blues tried – and failed – to avoid what was an embarrassing and potentially damning result against the Austrian champions.

Raheem Sterling gave Chelsea the lead shortly into the second half with a perfectly-placed strike from the left of the area to the far side, but Salzburg’s star attacker Noah Okafor pulled the vistors even with 15 minutes left on the clock after being left ample room in the Chelsea area to put away a cross from Chukwubuike Adamu.

Pulisic came into the game with six minutes left on the clock and made the most of his very limited time, with 12 touches, eight of nine completed passes, , three recoveries, and one chance created.

However it was to no avail with the Londoners being forced to settle for the point, despite holding 72% of possession and outshooting their visitors by a 17-4 margin.

The draw leaves the Blues rock-bottom of Group E on one point. Their weekend home game against Liverpool is postponed due to some funeral, meaning their next game will be on Oct. 1 against Crystal Palace, four days before they host group leaders AC Milan.

Shakthar Donetsk 1 – 1 Celtic

Cameron Carter-Vickers and Celtic were the better of the two teams on Wednesday night, but still were forced to settle for a draw on neutral ground against Shakhtar Donetsk.

As usual, the American started in Celtic’s central defense and ran the show alongside Moritz Jenz, with 101 touches, a 95% completion rate on his 95 attempted passes, one attempted header on a free kick, and only one foul committed.

A heads-up clearance by Josip Juranovic just before the ten-minute mark gave Celtic possession in the attacking end, with Reo Hatate firing a sharp cross from the left side that Artem Bondarenko deflected into his own goal for the 1-0 lead to the Scottish side.

Just before the half-hour, Shakhtar pulled even and earned their share of the spoils. Georgiy Sudakov split the defense with a through-ball on the left to Mykhaylo Mudryk, who aggressively powered to the upper left edge of the six-yard box and blasted his shot to the far upper corner for the equalizer.

Celtic are still in trouble in Group F, where they are a distant third behind Real Madrid and the Ukrainians, with RB Leipzig bringing up the rear. They will likely pick up a couple of confidence-building domestic wins over St. Mirren and Motherwell before heading to Leipzig on Oct. 5.

Juventus 1 – 2 Benfica

Weston McKennie and Juventus suffered a difficult defeat at home to put their European campaign in danger, blowing an early lead against Benfica to remain winless in group play.

McKennie was in Massimiliano Allegri’s starting XI, lining up on the right side of a stacked midfield, between Juan Cuadrado on the wing and Leandro Paredes in the middle.

McKennie did play the full 90 minutes, but his danger to the opposing goal was neutralized throughout. He only manged 42 total touches over the full game, completed 20 of 28 passes, committed one foul, won half of his ten duels, but most critically, took no shots and didn’t create any chances for teammates.

Benfica summer signing John Brooks was on the team’s bench, however was not called into action and is still awaiting his debut with the team.

Juve were off to a fine start with Arkadiusz Milik heading a fine free kick by Paredes from the right flank to the far corner, but Benfica equalized two mintes before the half as Joao Mária struck from the spot following Fabio Miretti’s clumsy challenge on Goncalo Ramos.

Then the Portuguese side earned the victory in the 55th minute, after Rafa Silva’s shot was initially deflected by Mattia Perin, only for David Neres to volley it past the keeper for the winning goal.

Winless Juve are third place in Group H, ahead of Maccabi Haifa only on goal differential. They will play Monza and Bologna in Serie A action before hosting the Israelis on Oct. 5.

Maccabi Haifa 1 – 3 PSG

Josh Cohen had another rough night on Wednesday, conceding three goals against star-studded French powerhouse PSG as the Israeli champions fell to another loss.

Cohen did make three saves in the game, but had little chance against the likes of Leo Messi, Neymar and Kylian Mbappé, despite the French champions putting in a generally subpar performance for their own standards.

Haifa did momentarily give themselves hope when Tjaronn Chery gave them the lead in the 24th minute with a beautiful header from a long delivery by Dolev Haziza from deep in the right flank.

Nevertheless the PSG machine got their wheels turning, and had no problems to secure the win.

Messi pulled them even in the 37th minute with a heads-up six-yarder after a cross by Mbappé was deflected in front of goal, then the Argentinean returned the favor in the 69th, sending Mbappé through the Haifa defense for a low finish past Cohen for the lead.

Neymar the got in on the action late in the game, adding the final insurance goal with two minutes on the clock, after he was left all alone on the left side to pull down a pass from Marco Verratti, and work his way towards goal unimpeded before beating Cohen from 12 yards.

Following the loss, Haifa are dead-last in Group H, with a pair of domesti games to play before they visit Chelsea on Oct. 5.

Notes

Owen Otasowie was nowhere to be found on Tuesday night as Brugge pulled off a surprising 4-0 road win over Porto.

Tim Chandler played the final 11 minutes of Eintracht Frankfurt’s 1-0 road win over Marseille on Tuesday. The win gives the Germans a lifeline in Group D, where they are currently third, behind Tottenham on goal differential. They have a pair of league games before hosting the Londoners on October 4.

By David Smith

I'm YA's resident doctor, but not the kind of doctor you would want giving you an examination anywhere outside of a lecture hall. I've been YA's feet-on-the-ground in Germany since 2008, have an affinity for overly verbose descriptions of irrelevant minutiae, keep an eye on YAs in most of the destinations on mainland Europe, and watch a whole lot of Serie A.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: