By Sedara Philip
The race to win the ultimate prize in European club football is once again underway following the start of the 2023/24 Uefa Champions League group stage.
The opening night of the 2023/24 Uefa Champions League group stage offered up no shortage of elite performances, with holders Man City, Paris and Barcelona among the most notable winners.
There was the usual dose of unmatched late drama, too, as Lazio goalkeeper Ivan Provedel scored an added-time equaliser against Atlético de Madrid. Uefa.com rounds up all the action.
Lazio 1-1 Atlético de Madrid
Lazio keeper Provedel headed a last-gasp equaliser to ensure Lazio’s return to Champions League action ended with a dramatic draw. The hosts dominated possession but were frequently thwarted by Jan Oblak in the visitors’ goal.
Indeed Atleti took the lead against the run of play when 20-year-old Pablo Barrios’s low shot deflected past Provedel. However, the keeper had the final say when he went up for an added-time corner and glanced in Luis Alberto’s delivery.
Key stat: Provedel is just the fourth keeper to score a goal in the Uefa Champions League, after Hans-Jörg Butt, Sinan Bolat and Vincent Enyeama.
Feyenoord 2-0 Celtic
Feyenoord took all three points after a dramatic spell in the second half during which Celtic received two red cards, saved a penalty and conceded a second goal. It was at the end of the first period, though, that the hosts had gone in front through Calvin Stengs’ free-kick.
Alireza Jahanbakhsh fired in the Dutch champions’ second, before both Gustaf Lagerbielke and Odin Thiago Holm were dismissed and Joe Hart denied Igor Paixão from the spot.
Key stat: Feyenoord have now scored in 25 of their last 26 Uefa club competition matches at home.
Paris 2-0 Dortmund
Paris began their campaign with a deserved victory as a ruthless second-half display saw them score for a 45th consecutive Champions League group stage match.
The hosts dictated play before the break but their best chance saw Vitinha hit the post. After the break, Kylian Mbappé’s penalty when Niklas Süle handled put the French side ahead, with Achraf Hakimi sealing the win with a cool finish just before the hour.
Key stat: Paris have lost only once in their last 34 Champions League group stage matches and have won each of their last seven home games at this stage with German clubs.
AC Milan 0-0 Newcastle United
Newcastle claimed a hard-earned point on their competition return for the first time since 2002/03. Goalkeeper Nick Pope denied Tommaso Pobega, Rafael Leão and Samuel Chukwueze in quick succession early on.
The Magpies went close themselves with their only shot on target of the nine between the teams, forcing Marco Sportiello – on for the injured Mike Maignan – to tip Sean Longstaff’s rising strike over the crossbar during second-half added time.
Key stat: Milan have now won nine and drawn three of their 13 home fixtures on Matchday 1, their only opening defeat at Stadio San Siro coming against Porto in September 1996.
Man City 3-1 Crvena Zvezda
Champions League holders Manchester City had to come from behind but a classy second-half display ensured the win. Erling Haaland headed against the crossbar and goalkeeper Omri Glazer made a string of saves before Osman Bukari ran through to beat Ederson for a shock lead.
Haaland found Julián Álvarez who rounded Glazer and tapped in, before the goalkeeper could only punch a free-kick from Álvarez into the net. Rodri, who scored the winner in June’s final, wrapped up the win with a curler.
Key stat: Omri Glazer made 13 saves, the first time a goalkeeper has made ten saves in a match in the Champions League since Kamil Grabara for København against Manchester City in October 2022.
Young Boys 1-3 Leipzig
Xaver Schlager struck 17 minutes from time as the Bundesliga side ended the hosts’ resistance in Berne. Leipzig started strongly, Mohamed Simakan making it 1-0 inside three minutes, but YB settled and levelled just after the half-hour through the excellent Meschack Elia. The visitors pushed and finally restored their advantage through Schlager before Benjamin Šeško’s late strike on the counter secured the points.
Key stat: Simakan’s goal was the first of the 2023/24 group stage. The French defender adds his name to an illustrious list of first scorers that includes Ángel Di María, Edinson Cavani, Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
Barcelona 5-0 Antwerp
A ruthless 11-minute spell in the first half allowed Barcelona to pull clear of group stage debutants Antwerp on a night when João Félix shone for the five-time winners. Félix drilled in the opener and quickly turned provider for Robert Lewandowski to volley a second before Jelle Bataille turned into his own net. After the break, Gavi slammed in a fourth and Félix added a header as Xavi Hernández’s side served up a dominant display.
Key stat: Lewandowski has now scored 100 goals in Uefa club competition (including qualifying); he is just the third player to reach a century after Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.
Shakhtar Donetsk 1-3 Porto
Porto surged into an early lead when Galeno turned in a rebound inside the first ten minutes. The visitors were pegged back by Kevin Kelsy’s header but restored their lead just two minutes later as Galeno found his second of the game with a composed finish into the bottom corner.
Mehdi Taremi added Porto’s third before the half-hour mark and the Portuguese side saw out the second period for a comfortable win to start their Champions League campaign.
Key stat: Porto are seven Uefa club competition matches unbeaten against Shakhtar Donetsk, with four wins and three draws.