Ajax, Chelsea, Valencia, Dortmund, Inter, and Liverpool were all one bad result away from getting knocked out of the UEFA Champions League on Matchday Six.
Here are the best moments from an action-packed Tuesday night around Europe.
RB Salzburg vs Liverpool
Holder’s Liverpool went into the match against RB Salzburg knowing they couldn’t afford to lose. Matchday Six’s (simultaneous) early kickoff was a cagey affair, as both sides challenged for every loose ball, but also fluffed great chances in the first half. Mohammed Salah, in particular, missed a sitter for Liverpool.
The Austrian side let Liverpool know they were in for a fight, and the Salzburg crowd turned the game to a spectacle. It was the away side that took the lead, however.
Former Salzburg standout Sadio Mane skipped past Jérôme Onguéné and beat the onrushing Stankovic to put in a looping cross for Naby Keita to head home in the 56th minute. Two minutes later, Salah made it 2-0 from the tightest of angles. Clive Tyldesley described the goal as “a ridiculous finish” in commentary.
Liverpool held on to win the match, while Salzburg now head to the Europa League knockout rounds with their heads held high.
Ajax vs Valencia
Valencia had to beat Ajax to qualify to the knockout rounds. Los Che took the lead in the first half thanks to a composed finish by Rodrigo. Ajax on the other hand, wasted a flurry of chances all night, forcing Jose Gaya to acrobatically clear the ball off his line in the first half.
Crazy scenes broke out in the final stages of the match. Amsterdam Arena erupted after Valencia defender Gabriel Paulista was sent off for a headbutt on Dusan Tadic.
Despite all odds, the Spanish side held on to win the match. Valencia were tipped to finish in a Europa League spot, but they won Group H and dumped last season’s Cinderella story out of the UEFA Champions League on matchday six, in their own backyard.
During the post-match celebrations, Valencia’s goal scoring hero, Rodrigo shouted “¡es un milagro!” at the camera. A miracle indeed.
Inter Milan vs FC Barcelona
Inter Milan were locked on points with Borussia Dortmund ahead of their blockbuster tie against FC Barcelona. They had to better the German side’s result on the night, so when Carlos Perez’s timely finish gave Barcelona the lead in the 23rd minute, Inter were in trouble.
The Nerazzuri created more chances in the first half, forcing reserve keeper Neto to some stinging saves. They then broke the deadlock minutes before halftime thanks to Romelu Lukaku’s smashing low drive.
Lukaku almost doubled Inter’s lead in the second half, forcing a point-blank save out of Neto. The San Siro crowd erupted in joy in the 73rd minute after Martinez found the back of the net, but the Argentine was offside.
Lightning struck twice six minutes later, as Martinez scored again, but this time it was Lukaku that interfered in the play from an offside position.
Inter’s hard-luck got worse when Ansu Fati–fresh off the bench–gave Barcelona a 2-1 lead in the 87th minute. Barcelona held on to win the match, and Antonio Conte’s side will now look to make their mark in the Europa League.
Borussia Dortmund vs Slavia Praha
Dortmund needed a win against Czech side Slavia Praha to better Inter’s result and advance to the knockout stages. They started the better side, taking the lead through Jadon Sancho in the 10th minute before Tomas Soucek leveled the match in the 42nd minute for Slavia.
Dortmund took a crucial 2-1 lead in the 61st minute of the second half. Sancho’s ball found Julian Brandt inside the box, and the German made no mistake to slot the ball past Ondřej Kolář’s near post.
Despite Dortmund’s lead, the game was still up for grabs. Slavia forced Roman Burki to several sprawling saves all night, and things seemed to turn their way after Julian Weigl picked up his second yellow with 10 minutes left in the match. Their luck seemingly faded after Ondřej Kúdela inexplicably missed an open header from point-blank range.
The match ended 2-1 to the delight of the relieved Dortmund fans, and the Germans finished second in their group to advance past Inter Milan.
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