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UEFA Champions League

UEFA Champions League: Chelsea Cruise, United Win, Barcelona Hangs

Chelsea claimed a thumping 4-0 victory over Juventus thanks to goals from home-grown trio Trevoh Chalobah, Reece James and Callum Hudson-Odoi and a fourth by Timo Werner to top Champions League Group H and cruise into the knockout stage.

European champions Chelsea took control from the outset and never relaxed as they booked their place in the last 16. Defender Chalobah, 22, smacked the ball into the net past the flailing arms of Wojciech Szczesny in the 25th minute after centre back Toni Rudiger set him up from a Hakim Ziyech corner. A VAR check dismissed calls for handball against Rudiger when replays showed the ball hit his hand in front of his chest.

James, 21, showed superb technique to angle a shot into the left-hand corner of the goal in the 55th and barely three minutes later 21-year-old Hudson-Odoi scored from a layoff by another Academy graduate Ruben Loftus-Cheek.

First #UCL start, first #UCL goal!

1-0 [33′] #CheJuv pic.twitter.com/4e9aUWF6vf– Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) November 23, 2021

Juventus had already qualified for the knockout stage but the result dropped them to second place in the group, level with Chelsea on 12 points, with one round of fixtures to play.

Chelsea coach Thomas Tuchel was full of praise for his young scorers.

“It’s their biggest dream to perform at Stamford Bridge, to perform in blue, to be part of a strong Chelsea team,” the German said. “I strongly believe this is a huge part of the success that we have this mix.”

“I have to say the team did very very well.”

“We scored so many, we created so much. Full credit, it was an amazing performance and a fantastic result.”

Thomas Tuchel reflects on winning his th game in charge of Chelsea!

@ReshminTV pic.twitter.com/CRwBANkL3G– Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) November 23, 2021

Werner put the icing on the cake before the final whistle by sending the ball home from a Ziyech cross. Chelsea, beaten 1-0 in Turin in September, made the Italians look ordinary, running them ragged with intricate passing movements and producing 20 shots on goal to Juve’s eight.

Former Chelsea striker Alvaro Morata had the visitors best chance when he chipped the ball over advancing Chelsea keeper Edouard Mendy in the 28th minute, but 37-year-old defender Thiago Silva raced back to superbly hook the ball off the line.

Mendy pulled off a save of his own late in the second half, tipping the ball over the bar from a Weston McKennie shot. Szczesny saved Juventus from utter humiliation with a series of fine stops, pushing the ball around the post from efforts by Hudson-Odoi and James as well as keeping out Ziyech and Ben Chilwell.

The one downside for the hosts was an injury to wing-back Chilwell, who appeared to twist his knee and was helped off the pitch.

Barcelona 0 Benfica 0

Barcelona’s hopes of making the Champions League knockout stage hang in the balance after they were held at the Nou Camp by Benfica.

On a frustrating night for Xavi’s side, 18-year-old Yusuf Demir, on loan from Rapid Vienna, hit the crossbar.

Ronald Araujo had a goal disallowed for second-placed Barca, who stay two points ahead of Benfica in third.

Barca’s final group game is away to runaway leaders Bayern Munich while Benfica host Dynamo Kyiv.

Both matches are on 8 December and it promises to be a tense finale for five-time European champions Barca.

While they are now undefeated in their past three group games, Barca have managed just two goals in five Champions League matches this season.

They will drop down to the Europa League if Benfica win their final match and Barca do not win in Germany.

Benfica defended stoically, closing down attacks with a solid five-man defensive line, leaving Barcelona in control of the ball much of the time.

However, the hosts managed just three attempts on target.

Benfica had a great chance to win it at the end through Haris Seferovic but he could not finish.

Demir is the fifth teenager to start for Barcelona in the Champions League this season – following Pedri, Ansu Fati, Gavi and Nico Gonzalez.

Barcelona boss Xavi: “Benfica came for a nil-nil. They knew how to play for it. That’s a big reason why we didn’t score.

“The vital thing is that we generated chances. It’s a matter of time before the chances go in.

“We missed an opportunity there but we just have to keep going – there’s another opportunity coming up in Munich and we just have to take it.”

Benfica boss Jorge Jesus: “We left here with a result that still leaves us dreaming. I keep saying the same thing: Barcelona are one of the best teams in the world and we are competing for qualification with them.

“This should make the fans, players and coach proud – today we were at the level of a great team.”

Villareal 0 Manchester United 2

Manchester United interim boss Michael Carrick dedicated victory over Villarreal to former manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as United booked their place in the Champions League last 16.

Goals from Cristiano Ronaldo and Jadon Sancho gave Carrick a win in his first game in temporary charge two days after Solskjaer was sacked.

“It’s not been an easy couple of days for anyone at the club and that result almost feels like it’s for Ole,” said Carrick, a Champions League winner with United as a player in 2008.

“We had a job to do and things needed to be taken care of. I was happy to do it and thankfully it all went to plan.

“When you’ve suffered results-wise and aren’t in good form, individually and as a team, it’s not easy to come out and let everything click – we had to show some character and fight.”

Ronaldo maintained his record of scoring in every game in this season’s competition when he lifted the ball over goalkeeper Geronimo Rulli in the 78th minute, after Fred had dispossessed Etienne Capoue.

Sancho then sealed the victory in injury time, blasting a shot that went in off the underside of the crossbar.

However, United were indebted to goalkeeper David de Gea as he produced two superb one-handed saves, one in each half, to keep out well-struck efforts from Manu Trigueros when it was goalless.

United will progress as group winners with a game to spare after Atalanta could only draw 3-3 with Young Boys in the later game on Tuesday.

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