Champions League Recap: Dismal Returns for Yanks in Europe

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Weston McKennie was the only American with reason to celebrate after the latest round of Champions League games, as a dismal week saw Christian Pulisic ignored, Gio Reyna and Cameron Carter-Vickers miss out, and several more on the losing end.

Liverpool 2 – 0 Rangers

Malik Tillman was largely neutralized by a dominant, albeit wasteful Liverpool on Tuesday evening, as a third straight Rangers loss already left them on the cusp of elimination at the group-stage halfway point.

Tillman did get the start on the right side of the Gers’ midfield, however he was removed from the equation during his 66 minutes, managing only 18 touches, only attempting six passes, three of which he completed, and only winning two of his seven duels.

James Sands was forced to stay in Glasgow for the game as he serves a suspension for an earlier red card.

Liverpool held nearly two-thirds of possession and out-shot their visitors by a 23-6 margin, however were still only able to take the three points thanks to a pair of dead-ball situations.

The Reds looked well on their way to a big win, needing just under seven minutes to take the lead after Trent Alexander-Arnold targeted the upper left corner of Allan McGregor’s goal with a direct free kick for the early 1-0 lead.

While all signs were pointing towards the hosts continuing on to an easy victory, they had issues to overcome a fine performance by McGregor, who made a remarkable eight saves on the evening.

They scored their second and final goal of the game after Leon King and John Lundstrom ganged up on Luis Diaz on a run into the Rangers area, with the referee immediately pointing to the spot.

Mohamed Salah converted the 53rd-minute penalty, ultimately securing a win for the hosts that was perhaps a bit closer than one would have expected from the run of play.

The loss leaves Rangers in last place of Group A with half of their six games played. They will try to sharpen their teeth in league action against St. Mirren on Saturday before hosting Liverpool on Wednesday, in what could be their last chance to salvage any hopes of avoiding a last-place finish.

Chelsesa 3 – 0 AC Milan

Sergiño Dest and AC Milan were completely overwhelmed by their hosts Chelseas on Wednesday night, however Blues attacker Christian Pulisic played no part in his team’s victory over the Italian giants as he watched the entirety of the game from the bench.

In his first start at right back for the Rossoneri in place of injured team captain Davide Calabria, Dest had an unremarkable outing, with 43 total touches, a 74% completion rate for his 27 pass attempts, four recoveries, one foul committed, however no successful crosses, long ball attempts, tackles or dribble attempts.

While Wesley Fofana will be credited with Chelsea’s go-ahead goal in the 24th minute, central defender Thiago Silva was the architect, forcing two consecutive corners with headers off of set pieces, before his third enabled their opening score.

On the decisive play, Silva’s low header to the near post forced Milan keeper Ciprian Tatarusanu into a diving save. The deflection rattled around in the six-yard box before Wesley Fofana finally found a line to put it over the line for the 1-0 lead.

Chelsea were dealt a blow less than 15 minutes later as the goalscorer was forced off the field due to injury, however they barely lost a step, and put the game away with a pair of second-half scores.

In the 56th minute, a stray cross from Ben Chilwell seemingly landed harmlessly well to the right of goal, outside of the area, however Reece James picked out Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang with his own, precision cross to the edge of the six-yard area for a quick finish and the 2-0 lead.

Six minutes later, James completed the rout, with Raheem Starling setting up his England teammate on the right side of the 18-hard box for a perfect, rising finish that ballooned the underside of the top-netting.

Remarkably, despite Chelsea entering the final half-hour with a three-goal lead, head coach Graham Potter opted to use his last four substitutes on Conor Gallagher, Jorginho, Kai Havertz and Albanian bit player Armando Broja instead of Pulisic.

In the end, the score stood, giving Chelsea their first win of the group, setting up a high-stakes return leg next week in Milan.

The result leaves the two clubs even on four points in the group, although both are behind Salzburg by one point. Before the next meeting on Tuesday, Chelsea host Wolves on Saturday while Milan host rivals Juventus.

Juventus 3 – 1 Maccabi Haifa

Weston McKennie and Juventus unsurprisingly had few problems taking the win against Josh Cohen and Maccabi on Tuesday night, with Ángel di Maria amazingly avoiding injury and red cards in his three-assist performance to lift the hosts.

McKennie was solid, if unspectacular in his start on the right side of the Bianconeri’s midfield. Over the 90 minutes, he had 54 touches, completed 80% of his 40 passes, hit one of his two ling-ball attempts, won two of five duels, and drew one foul.

Cohen put in an admirable performance for the visitors. While he was ultimately beaten for three goals, he did manage four saves and avoided any major errors.

Playing in his first game since mid-September, di Maria had the vision to pick out Adrien Rabiot for a short run into the left side of the 18-yard box, with just enough space to for the Frenchman launch a hard shot to the top of the near corner for the 35th-minute lead.

15 minutes later, the Argentinean had set up Juve’s second goal, drawing the last two Haifa defenders to his direction, while Dusan Vlahovic stormed up the right side. He did the obvious and rolled a perfectly-weighted pass directly into the Serbian’s path, who had no issues to beat the stranded Cohen to double the lead.

The same combo looked to have given Juventus the 3-0 lead just before the 63-minute mark, only to see the goal reversed for off-side. Din David did momentarily cut the lead to a single goal after 75 minutes when Wojceich Sczesny foolishly left his box, leaving the Israeli international open net for the 2-1.

However, di Maria had one final trick up his sleeve, sending an 83rd-minute corner towards the near post, where Rabio rose high to head it in for the final 3-1 scoreline.

Juventus will have their focus on Saturday’s home game against AC Milan before they even think of Tuesday’s rematch in Haifa. Cohen and his teammates have a domestic fixture against Maccabi Bnei Raina before hosting Juventus next week.


Owen Otasowie was nowhere to be found on Tuesday when Club Brugge took a surprising three points at home against Spanish powerhouse Atletico Madrid.

Tim Chandler stayed on Eintracht Frankfurt’s bench on Tuesday for their scoreless draw at home against Tottenham.

Cameron Carter-Vickers is recovering from a minor injury and didn’t make the trip to Leipzig for Celtic’s 3-1 road loss to the Red Bulls.

Gio Reyna is recovering from a minor muscle strain and did not suit up for Borussia Dortmund’s impressive 4-1 road win over Sevilla.

John Brooks stayed glued to the Benfica bench on Wednesday throughout their 1-1 home draw against Paris Saint-Germain.


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.

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