Champions League talking points: Son Heung-min says sorry, Kyle Walker’s clean sheet and Atletico slip up

Luke Brown, Lawrence Ostlere
The Independent

It was goals galore in the Champions League on Wednesday night, as the likes of Real Madrid and Tottenham Hotspur recorded big wins while Dinamo Zagreb and Shakhtar Donetsk played out a six-goal thriller.

Real and Spurs have both struggled for form this season, but both teams were back to something approaching their best. Real hit six against hapless Galatasaray, while Tottenham eased past Red Star Belgrade in Serbia. Spurs will qualify for the knockout stages for the third consecutive season if they can beat Olympiakos next time out.

Fellow English side Manchester City were meanwhile held to a 1-1 draw at Atalanta – although the Premier League champions can reflect on the result with pride after Claudio Bravo was sent off. First-choice goalkeeper Ederson had earlier gone off injured, meaning defender Kyle Walker saw out the final ten minutes in goal.

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Perhaps the most surprising result came in Group D, as Atletico Madrid slipped to a surprise 2-1 loss at Bayer Leverkusen. Juventus meanwhile scored a last-gasp winner on the road against Lokomotiv Moscow – meaning the Italian champions are now in pole position to qualify as group winners.

Here are the key Champions League stories you need to know about on Thursday morning.

Rodrygo steals the show

Brazilian teenager Rodrygo plundered a hat-trick as Real Madrid trounced Galatasaray 6-0 to ease their way towards the Champions League knockout phase.

The 18-year-old former Santos striker scored twice within the opening seven minutes at the Bernabeu Stadium and completed his treble in stoppage time to cap a fine evening’s work.

In addition, he had earlier set up Karim Benzema to score the first of his two goals after skipper Sergio Ramos had converted from the penalty spot.

Benzema’s second was his 50th goal for the club in the competition and helped set up a showdown with Group A leaders Paris St Germain in Spain in three weeks’ time.

Rodrygo scored a stunning hat-trick (Getty)
Rodrygo scored a stunning hat-trick (Getty)

The French side will head into the game five points better off than their hosts, but knowing Zinedine Zidane’s men have put a slow start to their European campaign firmly behind them.

Real hit the Turkish side with an early blitz which left them reeling as they effectively had the points wrapped up within the opening 14 minutes.

Rodrygo needed just four of those minutes to fire his side in front, and he helped himself to a second just three minutes later with a fine header, full-back Marcelo providing the ammunition on both occasions as Galatasaray were picked off repeatedly at the back.

Their fortunes took a further turn for the worse when, having been invited to review Steve Nzonzi’s challenge on Toni Kroos on the edge of the box by the video assistant referee, German match official Felix Zwayer pointed to the spot.

Ramos resisted the temptation to allow Rodrygo to complete a quick-fire hat-trick, dinking the resulting penalty over keeper Fernando Muslera to make it 3-0.

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The Brazilian teenager turned provider on the stroke of half-time, capitalising on yet another error by the Galatasaray rearguard to hand Benzema the simplest of chances to make it 4-0.

Midfielder Nzonzi and striker Florin Andone both made way at the break to be replaced by as Galatasaray boss Fatih Terim attempted to stem the tide, and they at least showed a greater resilience with their hosts in cruise control.

Muslera spared his side further punishment when he got down well to repel Kroos’ 67th-minute drive and was rewarded when Benzema was unable to convert the rebound, and the keeper pushed Isco’s header on to the crossbar seconds later to deny the substitute a goal with his first touch.

Benzema passed up two opportunities to add to his tally as time ran down, but he made no mistake when he tapped home Dani Carvajal’s 81st-minute cross from point-blank range to complete a personal half-century before Rodrygo completed the rout from the Frenchman’s through-ball.

Walker explains decision to go in goal

Manchester City will have to wait to secure their place in the last-16 of the Champions League after an eventful 1-1 draw with Atalanta.

Raheem Sterling struck early for the Premier League champions in Milan but Gabriel Jesus missed a penalty before Mario Pasalic levelled in a dramatic second half that saw City reduced to 10 men.

Goalkeeper Claudio Bravo, a half-time replacement for the injured Ederson, was controversially sent off 10 minutes from time for bringing down Josip Ilicic.

Kyle Walker had to play in goal for the closing minutes but City held on for a draw that still maintains their healthy position at the top of Group C.

Kyle Walker applauds the Manchester City supporters at full-time (Getty)
Kyle Walker applauds the Manchester City supporters at full-time (Getty)

Walker admitted it was a mutual decision for the England international to don the gloves after Bravo’s dismissal.

He said: “It was a bit of both. I try sometimes to wind up the goalkeepers in training by telling them to catch it and stuff but as I found out tonight, sometimes you need two touches.

“All jokes aside, we came here to get a point or a victory. We knew it would be difficult because they go man-to-man and are in the Champions League for a reason.

“To come away from here with how we ended the game with a draw is a good point and we take that on. Now the focus is on Liverpool for Sunday.”

Son says sorry

Son Heung-min has admitted that he still feels “really, really sorry” for his involvement in Andre Gomes’ horrific ankle injury last weekend, after the Tottenham Hotspur forward scored twice in his side’s crucial 4-0 victory over Red Star Belgrade in the Champions League.

Son bounced back from his weekend devastation as he scored two goals in Tottenham’s impressive 4-0 Champions League win at Red Star Belgrade.

He was visibly distraught after his tackle led to a horrific injury to the Everton midfielder on Sunday and he was a doubt to make the trip to Serbia as a result.

But he put it all behind him in Belgrade with a double in four second-half minutes to take his tally to nine Champions League goals in 2019 and five in four games this season.

And goalscorer Son admitted it had been a tough week following his involvement in the incident that saw Everton midfielder Andre Gomes suffer a horrific injury on Sunday.

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He told BT Sport 2: “It was a really, really tough few days. I realised how lucky I am to have the supporters, my friends, my team-mates – everyone gave me such strong messages.

“Of course I still feel really, really sorry about this accident and this situation.

“I had to focus for the team. I had to keep going. I had to keep working hard. I think this is my right answer to all the people who support me.”

Tottenham’s victory means a win over Greek outfit Olympiacos in their next Champions League match will seal their progression to the knockout stages for a third consecutive season.

Atletico’s slump continues

Bayer Leverkusen sprang to life in their Champions League group as they picked up their first points with a 2-1 win over Atletico Madrid in a bad-tempered game.

Despite suffering a late fright and red card, Leverkusen were worthy winners and must have left their supporters wondering why they could not have produced similar displays earlier in the group.

Atletico would have clinched their place in the round of 16 with a win but failed to produce a single shot on target in the first half of the Group D game and fell behind to an own goal by Thomas Partey four minutes before halftime.

Charles Aranguiz lofted the ball over from the right and the Ghanaian headed into his own net as he tried to clear.

Atletico lost ground on Juventus last night (Getty)
Atletico lost ground on Juventus last night (Getty)

Leverkusen extended their lead 10 minutes after the break. Karim Bellarabi fired over a low cross from the right, Felipe failed to cut it out and Kevin Volland controlled the ball and drilled his shot past Jan Oblak.

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There were ugly moments after that and, at one point, a huge scuffle broke out in the Atletico area involving around a dozen players which led to four players being booked.

Shortly afterwards, Leverkusen had Nadiem Amiri sent off for a late, sliding tackle, leaving the Bundesliga side to play the last six minutes with 10 men.

Alvaro Morata pulled one back in the fourth minute of stoppage time and, incredibly, Atletico nearly snatched an equaliser. In their next attack, the ball again fell perfectly for Morata in the penalty area but goalkeeper Lukas Hradecky saved the shot with his legs.

Leaders Juventus have qualified with 10 points from four games while Atletico have seven and Lokomotiv Moscow and Leverkusen three apiece.

Icardi continues his hot streak

Mauro Icardi was again in the right place at the right time to earn Paris St Germain a 1-0 home victory over Club Brugge on Wednesday as the French champions booked their spot in the Champions League last 16.

Icardi netted his eighth goal in his last seven games to put PSG on a maximum 12 points in Group A, five ahead of Real Madrid who thrashed Galatasaray 6-0.

Icardi is in fine form (AFP)
Icardi is in fine form (AFP)

Brugge, who missed a second-half penalty, are third on two points with Galatasaray eliminated on one point.

PSG travel to Real Madrid and the Belgian side face Galatasaray away in the penultimate round of matches on Nov. 26.

Icardi was preferred up front to Edinson Cavani alongside Angel Di Maria and Kylian Mbappe, and the Argentine forward struck in the 22nd minute, tapping in from Colin Dagba’s cross.

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Now unbeaten in their last 23 group home games in the competition, PSG showed little in the second half as the visitors pressed hard for an equaliser but Keylor Navas made sure the Ligue 1 side kept their perfect defensive record in the group.

Brugge were awarded a penalty in the 76th minute after Thiago Silva brought down Mbaye Diagne in the area, only for Navas to block the Senegalese’s spot-kick.

While Icardi had another night to remember, Mbappe, who scored a hat-trick in the reverse fixture, proved clumsy throughout and was replaced by Julian Draxler seven minutes from time.

Wednesday's Champions League results

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