The second Matchday of the new UEFA Champions League season is complete after eight games across Europe on Wednesday.
Here are the five biggest takeaways.
Newcastle scores a statement win over Mbappé-led Paris Saint-Germain
Magpies supporters waited two decades for Newcastle to return to the Champions League, and celebrated it with a 1-1 tie at AC Milan last month. In their first home match back in the competition, the club gave its supporters a vicotry they’ll never forget.
Wednesday’s resounding 4-1 win over Kylian Mbappé-led PSG at a raucous St. James’s Park marks Newcastle’s greatest triumph since the Magpies beat Juventus there in 2002, or even since they topped Barcelona all the way back in 1997.
This win is arguably bigger. PSG arrived at Tyneside with possibly the best player in the world, Mbappé, leading their front line. And the hosts absolutely beat the wheels of them.
The one-sided scoreline doesn’t lie: Newcastle was all over their more glamorous opponent from the start, with MLS alum Miguel Almirón opening the scoring after just 17 minutes. Dan Burn made it 2-0 before halftime and another local product, Sean Longstaff, added a third shortly after the break to send the home supporters into delirium.
There was still plenty of time for PSG to mount a comeback. But while Lucas Hernández pulled one back with more than half an hour to play, it was Newcastle that got the next one, in stoppage time, via defender Fabian Schär:
It was the club’s biggest home win ever in the Champions League. It was a statement victory, too. Newcastle is for real. And now they’re sitting alone atop the Group of Death.
Could PSG really be in danger of missing the knockout stage?
It’s only two games into the new Champions League campaign. Despite Wednesday’s defeat, Mbappé & Co. are still second in Group F. Still, the overall picture isn’t quite as rosy for PSG, which sits fifth in France’s top division after spending almost $400 million on new players over the summer.
There was always going to be an adjustment period after the departure of both Neymar and Lionel Messi, and with a new coach, Luis Enrique, coming in. And there’s still plenty of time to turn things around, both domestically and in the club game’s most important tournament. But one still has to wonder if PSG, which always fancies itself a Champions League contender and is desperate to win the European title for the first time, might actually be in danger of missing out on the knockout stage.
The Parisians’ next two group matches, both against seven time champ AC Milan, will reveal much more about this new look PSG squad.
Barcelona keeps on rolling in Porto
When the Blaugrana annihilated Belgium’s Royal Antwerp 5-0 in its 2023-24 Champions League opener last month, it almost ooked like he Barcelona of old. On Wednesday, their first away encounter did little to counter the idea that Barca is back.
Xavi Hernández’s side went to Porto on Wednesday and will fly home with a well-earned shutout win on a goal by Ferran Torres right at the end of the first half.
The win, which was sullied juts slightly by the silly second yellow card Gavi picked up just before the final whistle, keeps Barça unbeaten though 10 total games this season; they’ve posted a 6W-0L-2T record so far in Spain’s La Liga. Again, it’s early yet. S But its also sure looks like Xavi has his team on track to return to the knockout stage for the first time since 2021.
Man City forced to work, eventually strolls past RB Leipzig
It says plenty about the reigning trophy holder that Man City hasn’t looked particularly convincing through the first two games but still managed to win both.
So it was in Leipzig, where Loïs Openda scored for the hosts to cancel out Phil Foden’s opener before City put the match away with two goals inside the final 10 minutes by second half substitutes Julian Alvarez and Jérémy Doku.
AC Milan can’t best Borussia Dortmund in Christian Pulisic’s return
Perhaps Wednesday’s most hotly anticipated match, this meeting between former continental champs turned out to be a dud. Not that the game was dull — between them, the two protagonists fired more than 30 shots toward goal. It was more the execution that was the problem: just five of those efforts actually ended up on target.
Making his return to the Westfalenstadion was United States national team star Christian Pulisic, who broke into Borussia Dortmund’s first team at 16 and stayed with Black and Yellow for four seasons before leaving for Chelsea in 2019. In his 50th career Champions League appearance Wednesday, Pulisic had one of the Rossoneri’s best chances in his old stomping ground, but sent his second half shot — following a clever turn — straight at home keeper Gregor Kobel.
Doug McIntyre is a soccer writer for FOX Sports. Before joining FOX Sports in 2021, he was a staff writer with ESPN and Yahoo Sports and he has covered United States men’s and women’s national teams at multiple FIFA World Cups. Follow him on Twitter @ByDougMcIntyre.
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