Philadelphia 76ers head coach Doc Rivers said the Ben Simmons drama is muting the fun of opening day for the NBA title contenders.

Simmons will not feature in Wednesday's opener against the New Orleans Pelicans – the three-time All-Star suspended by the 76ers due to "conduct detrimental to the team" following reports he was ejected from practice after Rivers grew frustrated with his lack of engagement.

76ers guard Simmons has demanded a trade amid criticism following last season's shock playoff exit to the Atlanta Hawks and was absent from Philadelphia for the first two weeks of preseason work before showing up on October 11 to begin fulfilling COVID-19 protocols that would allow him to re-join the championship-chasing franchise.

Speculation over Simmons' future is now set to intensify amid reported interest from the likes of the Minnesota Timberwolves, Cleveland Cavaliers, Golden State Warriors, San Antonio Spurs, Houston Rockets, Portland Trail Blazers and Indiana Pacers.

Ahead of the 76ers' clash with the Pelicans, Rivers told reporters: "It's a predicament that we're in and that part is no fun. It really isn't.

"We get to play right now and Ben is not. I want Ben to be playing. That's his job."

Simmons – an elite defender who signed a five-year, $177.2million contract extension in 2019 – and his shooting problems were laid bare during the 2021 postseason with the top-seeded 76ers, who were eliminated in the semi-finals.

 

The 25-year-old had no fourth-quarter field-goal attempts in his last four games of the playoffs against the Hawks last season. He is the only NBA player in the last 20 seasons to have four consecutive postseason games with no field-goal attempts in the fourth quarter during a season in which he was an All-Star, according to Stats Perform.

Simmons averaged just 10.1 field-goal attempts in 2020-21 – a career low, which dropped to 7.9 in the playoffs. It was the same story with his scoring as it dropped to a career-worst 14.3 points per game and 11.9 in the postseason – both career lows.

Then there is Simmons and free throws. He was exposed by rival teams as they regularly sent him to the line, with the Melbourne-born guard making just 25 of 73 shots in the 2020-21 playoffs. His 34.2 free-throw percentage is the lowest ever in a single postseason.

"Obviously you don't want any of those things. You get a lot of texts, 'great job' and all this stuff and it's not," Rivers said. "I don't think people understand ... you want all your players to do well.

"You cheer for your players. Even when they're in a tough spot, you want it to go well for them, you do. When you're put in positions like [Tuesday], it's no fun."

Philadelphia – who finished with the best record in the Eastern Conference last season – have won five of their last six games against New Orleans, though the Pelicans claimed their last home meeting. Of those six games, five were decided by seven or fewer points.

Seth Curry shot 45.0 per cent from beyond the arc for the 76ers last season – his third consecutive campaign shooting at least 45.0 percent from three-point range, all with different teams. He is the fourth qualified player in NBA history with three straight seasons of 45.0-percent shooting from downtown, according to Stats Perform.

Juventus relied too heavily on Cristiano Ronaldo over the past three seasons, Leonardo Bonucci suggested after Wednesday's Champions League win over Zenit.

Ronaldo joined Juve in 2018 and helped the Bianconeri win Serie A twice, though they fell short of winning a 10th straight Scudetto last season.

The 36-year-old left Juve in August, heading back to Manchester United in a shock transfer. He hit the ground running at Old Trafford and, after going two games without a goal, scored the winner in the Red Devils' 3-2 comeback victory over Juve's fellow Serie A side Atalanta midweek.

While Ronaldo spearheaded United's attack in Manchester, Juve moved onto nine points in Champions League Group H as Dejan Kulusevski's 86th-minute header sealed a 1-0 win over Zenit.

It is the first time Juve have won all three of their opening Champions League group-stage matches since Massimiliano Allegri's last season in charge, back in 2018-19.

Though they have made an impressive start in Europe, Juve have laboured in the league and sit seventh heading into Sunday's derby d'Italia clash with Inter, though a win would take them onto level points with the defending champions.

Ronaldo scored 36 goals in all competitions last season, with only four players across Europe's top-five leagues managing more, but Bonucci believes Juve lost a will to "suffer and sacrifice".

"It's absolutely true, it is what we all said," Bonucci told Sky Sport Italia after the win in St Petersburg. "In the recent past, we had lost that characteristic of Juve.

"We were all playing with a great champion and wanted him to do well, so perhaps we lost that desire to all suffer and sacrifice ourselves together, because we assumed he would sort it out.

"The coach has done really well to get that spirit and humility back and we all work together now to get the result."

While Juve may have their spirit back, they did lack cutting edge for a significant portion of Wednesday's match.

Weston McKennie had passed up two previous opportunities, including what was the best chance of the game, as per Opta's expected goals (xG) value, when he saw a close-range effort saved by Stanislav Kritsyuk in the 51st minute.

Kulusevski eventually broke the deadlock when he glanced Mattia De Sciglio's cross in off the post to become Juve's second-youngest Champions League goalscorer, after the great Alessandro Del Piero.

"I will never forget this goal for as long as I live," Kulusevski told Juventus TV. "It was my debut Champions League goal, the first I have scored this season and it was even a header!"

Juve's cause in attack might have been helped by Paulo Dybala, but the Argentine forward, whose next Champions League appearance will be his 50th in the competition, was unavailable due to an injury he sustained last month.

Before the match, vice-president Pavel Nedved revealed talks over a new deal are almost resolved.

Nedved told Sky Sport Italia: "We all hope he can be on the pitch and sign the new contract. I believe we are very close to the signature, we're very happy. Paulo is very important for this team."

Dillian Whyte has been forced to cancel his heavyweight clash with Otto Wallin on October 30 due to a shoulder injury, promoter Eddie Hearn confirmed on Wednesday.

The fight with Sweden's Wallin, set to take place at the O2 Arena in London, was the main event on an impressive card with Whyte set to return to action for the first time since beating Alexander Povetkin in March.

However, a shoulder injury sustained in training has forced the postponement of the fight and it remains unclear whether the clash will be rescheduled.

The winner was in line to face the undefeated Tyson Fury for the WBC heavyweight crown in 2022, though Whyte's next bout may still be against the 'Gyspy King' should the meeting with Wallin be called off completely.

The WBC had ruled that the winner of Fury and Deontay Wilder's trilogy fight would have 30 days to agree on a bout with IBF, WBA and WBO champion Oleksandr Usyk, or face the reigning interim champion - the winner of Whyte versus Wallin.

However, Anthony Joshua has triggered a rematch clause to ensure he fights Usyk again in 2022, opening the door for Whyte or Wallin to step up.

Should Whyte be required to challenge Wallin in a rearranged clash, defeat will once again throw a spanner in the works for the Briton, despite him currently ranking as the WBC's interim challenger.

Whyte has encountered similar problems before while waiting for a world title shot, having been knocked out by Povetkin in 2020 before recovering in the rematch between the pair.

Dino Toppmoller hailed the way Bayern Munich's players overcame the absence of Julian Nagelsmann to clinch a 4-0 win over Benfica.

Bayern head coach Nagelsmann pulled out of the Champions League Group E game three hours beforehand with flu-like symptoms and handed the reins to assistant Toppmoller.

Two goals from Leroy Sane, one from Robert Lewandowski and an own goal from Benfica's Everton wrapped up a comfortable victory in Lisbon on Wednesday for the six-time winners.

It ensured Bayern have earned nine points from their first three games and are sitting pretty at the top of Group E, five points clear of second-placed Benfica with Barcelona further point behind.

Bayern have scored 12 goals and conceded none to give them their best start to a Champions League season and the joint-best overall in the competition.

"The boys were sensational, especially in the second half," Toppmoller told DAZN.

"Huge compliments to the team. It's not easy for the boys when the head coach pulls out at the last moment."

Benfica have never beaten Bayern in any of their 11 European meetings (drawn three, lost eight). 

But despite the scoreline, Bayern did not have it all their own way and were indebted to two fine saves from goalkeeper Manuel Neuer when it was 0-0.

The Germany international managed a clean sheet on his 100th appearance in the Champions League as he became only the fourth player to reach a century of appearances for the club in the competition, and only the second goalkeeper after Oliver Kahn (103).

"It's gigantic, I never would have believed it," Neuer said of the milestone.

"If someone had said that to me at the start of my career, I never would have thought it was possible. It's a great time and we had a great crowd today.

"I think the second half was incredible. We gave very little away and had the control, but we couldn't really break through. When the first goal went in, things became easier for us. It was a great evening for us."

Bayern Munich’s nine unbeaten matches against Benfica in the European Cup/Champions League (won six, drawn three) is the most by a team against an opponent since the tournament began in 1955.

Sane opened the scoring with a 70th-minute free-kick then rounded it off six minutes from time and acknowledged Bayern could have won by an even greater margin.

"I think we played a really, really good game," Sane said.

"Even in the first half. In attack, we could have finished off our chances a little better. But I am really happy with the performance. We had just had to play our game and be patient; in the end it worked out."

Karen Khachanov revealed he felt the nerves of playing in front of a home crowd as he marked his return to Moscow with a comeback victory in the Kremlin Cup.

Handed a bye for the opening round, third seed Khachanov made home advantage count in his first match as the Russian defeated Australian world number 50 James Duckworth 3-6 6-3 6-1 to reach the quarter-finals on Wednesday.

Khachanov – Olympic Games silver medallist, who triumphed in Moscow three years ago – will face another Australian, John Millman after he defeated Illya Marchenko 6-1 5-7 6-4 at the ATP 250 tournament.

"It always feel great to be back in your hometown, in a tournament where everything started for me as a professional tennis player," world number 31 Khachanov said.

"[This is] where I won my first matches, I got my first points. Since then, it's always great to come back home to see a crowd, [get] home support. It's also little bit more nervous, of course. But I always enjoy playing at home."

Khachanov was joined in going through to the last eight by sixth seed Marin Cilic – a two-time Kremlin Cup champion who overcame Tommy Paul 7-5 6-3.

At the European Open in Antwerp, top seed Jannik Sinner downed fellow Italian youngster Lorenzo Musetti 7-5 6-2 in the duo's first meeting as professionals.

"We never practice together, so it was kind of a new match," Sinner said post-match.

"He's an incredible player. He's a very great talent, so I hope we will have a couple of more matches on the pro tour, and obviously I'm very happy about my level today."

Arthur Rinderknech upstaged eighth seed Dusan Lajovic 6-3 4-6 6-2 to set up a quarter-final tie with Sinner, who is in the hunt for a fourth title of the season and a place at next month's ATP Finals in Turin.

Another emerging talent, qualifier Jenson Brooksby, bettered US Open quarter-finalist Botic van de Zandschulp 6-2 6-0, with Alejandro Davidovich Fokina sending third seed Cristian Garin packing 4-6 6-3 6-3.

Aryna Sabalenka edged past Ajla Tomljanovic in the Kremlin Cup to reach the quarter-finals in her first match since contracting COVID-19 after the US Open semi-finals. 

Top seed Sabalenka – appearing in Moscow for the first time – had not played since being downed by Leylah Fernandez, having tested positive for coronavirus on the eve of the Indian Wells Open. 

The Belarusian, who sits second in the world rankings, profited from a bye in the first round before battling past Tomljanovic 7-6 (7-2) 4-6 6-1 on Wednesday as she fired 10 aces but made 30 unforced errors. 

Sabalenka will now meet Ekaterina Alexandrova after the Russian cruised past Anhelina Kalinina 6-4 6-1, while Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova comfortably defeated Bernarda Pera 6-2 7-5. 

Number two seed Garbine Muguruza also reached her seventh quarter-final of the season as she defeated Tereza Martincova 6-4 4-6 6-3 in just under three hours in Moscow. 

Meanwhile, Elina Svitolina was shocked in the Tenerife Open as she was dumped out by Maria Camila Osorio Serrano, who succeeded 5-7 6-3 6-2 to claim her first top-10 victory. 

Svitolina was the favourite in Spain and comfortably took the first set on Tuesday. However, inadequate light stopped play and the 19-year-old Osorio responded emphatically the following day to secure a memorable triumph. 

Ann Li coasted past Varvara Gracheva 6-4 6-2 after Anna Karolina Schmiedlova had dispatched Jaqueline Cristian 6-2 7-5 in the opening match of the day. 

Xinyu Wang retired injured against Alize Cornet, who led 4-1 in the decisive set, while Donna Vekic and Irina-Camelia Begu's match was suspended for bad light with the Croatian leading by a set. 

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was "sure" Manchester United would beat Atalanta after match-winner Cristiano Ronaldo completed a dramatic Champions League comeback on Wednesday.

Ronaldo was the hero again at Old Trafford, where United overturned a two-goal deficit to stun visiting Atalanta 3-2 on matchday three in Group F.

United trailed 2-0 before the half-hour mark in Manchester after Mario Pasalic and Merih Demiral shocked the Theatre of Dreams.

Reeling after a 4-2 Premier League defeat at Leicester City last time out and just two wins in their previous seven games, the Red Devils were given a glimmer of hope when Marcus Rashford pulled a goal back eight minutes into the second half – the club's 300th strike in all competitions under Solskjaer.

United captain Harry Maguire equalised with 15 minutes remaining before superstar Ronaldo stepped up to complete the fightback nine minutes from time.

On what he said at half-time, Solskjaer told BT Sport: "I said make sure we get the next goal, because then we win the game.

"As long as we don’t concede I was pretty sure we would win the game. It was just about taking chances."

"I thought we played well first half too. Two chances, two goals. It had to stop if we are to survive," Solskjaer said after United rallied from two or more goals down for the third time – no side has done so more often in the Champions League.

"We have a habit of doing this at this club. I thought we played well and they scored a goal out of nothing and then another set-piece. But they never stopped believing and kept going."

"The fans are a big, big part of this club," Solskjaer added. "The singing section here today kept the players going in their belief. That is what you do at Manchester United on a Champions League night."

Solskjaer defended Ronaldo following some criticism that he does not work hard or defend enough for the Premier League giants.

Ronaldo has now scored in three consecutive Champions League games for United for the second time – the 36-year-old five-time Ballon d'Or winner previously doing so in November 2007 en route to lifting the trophy with the Red Devils.

“If anyone wants to criticise him for work rate or attitude, just look at the way he runs around in this game," he said.

Solskjaer has found himself under growing pressure amid United's poor form and performances and when it was put to him whether the squad had played for him midweek, the Norwegian responded: "Don't disrespect the players.

"They played for Man United and they are the luckiest men in the world because they're the ones who get to play for Man United and millions of boys and girls would love to do that."

Thomas Tuchel rallied Chelsea's bit-part players by telling them "the race is on" to prove themselves after Romelu Lukaku and Timo Werner were injured.

Lukaku sustained an ankle injury and Werner hurt his hamstring during the first half of the 4-0 home victory over Malmo in Champions League Group H on Wednesday.

Belgium striker Lukaku was injured by a tackle from Lasse Nielsen that resulted in a penalty Jorginho confidently dispatched to add to Andreas Christensen's opener. 

Kai Havertz replaced Lukaku and scored Chelsea's third before playing a role in another spot-kick for the Blues that was converted by Jorginho. 

Chelsea have five games to come over the next 17 days and Tuchel said there can be no excuses for a decline in results if Lukaku and Werner are sidelined for an extended period. 

"We have a twisted ankle with Romelu and a hamstring injury for Timo, so they will be out for some days, I guess," Tuchel told BT Sport. 

"Normally we're in a good place injury-wise – we had only Christian Pulisic out. But we miss everybody. We have a lot of games to play, a lot of competitions. Now we have to find solutions. No excuses accepted. 

"The two were in good shape and were dangerous and could create and score. Now we need to find solutions and guys who waited for their chance need to step up and prove that they can do the same thing. 

"Whoever it might be, the race is on. The guys who will start against Norwich in the next game have our trust. We will try to find new solutions. 

"Let's stay positive. We won games before without Timo and we won games before without Romelu. We don't want to have these problems too often but these things happen in the season." 

Havertz could now be in line to start against Norwich City in the Premier League on Saturday. 

He said: "I came from the bench, you always have to be ready, it is always tough to come in but I tried to do my best in the second half to score a goal, so it is a nice feeling. 

"Timo said they have to do an MRI tomorrow, they are top-level strikers and I hope it's not too bad for them." 

Harry Maguire expressed his disappointment at Manchester United's defensive work while hailing Cristiano Ronaldo after the Red Devils overturned a two-goal deficit to defeat Atalanta 3-2.

Gian Piero Gasperini's side raced into a two-goal lead inside 29 minutes at Old Trafford – the earliest United have found themselves two goals down at home in the Champions League since October 2012.

It was also the 12th consecutive home game across all competitions the hosts had conceded in – their longest such run since February 1964 (13).

However, Marcus Rashford netted the 300th goal of Solskjaer's tenure to give the Red Devils hope before Harry Maguire levelled things with his first goal in the Champions League.

Ronaldo then scored in his third consecutive game in Europe for United – last doing so in 2007-08 en route to winning the trophy with Alex Ferguson's side – to cap yet another memorable turnaround.

Despite the comeback, Maguire admitted his frustrations at the manner in which his side fell behind as he implored for improvements at the back.

"We definitely do like doing it the hard way in the Champions League," Maguire told BT Sport post-match.

"In the first half, we conceded two bad goals - the quick free-kick for the first and the set play we shouldn’t be conceding from.

"The last few games we've conceded a lot from set-plays, I think that's four in the last four games so we need to sharpen up on that.

"That [conceding from set-pieces] is not good enough for this club. We're working on the formula to be a lot more solid but it's about winning football matches.

"We've shown great togetherness, in the dressing room at half-time after the fans cheered and clapped us off, we gave them the result and the energy that they deserved."

Ronaldo, who also proved the late hero last time out in Europe against Villarreal, delivered once more and Maguire was quick to praise the competition's all-time leading scorer after yet another vital performance.

"I had eyes on it all the way," the centre-back said of Ronaldo's winner.

"I was right behind him. His leap, his timing, it was perfect right in the corner.

"We see it day in, day out in training and in the goals he has scored throughout his career. He has come up with a massive goal for us again in the Champions League."

United face Liverpool and Tottenham in the Premier League before travelling to Atalanta on November 2 with a two-point lead at the top of Group F.

Cristiano Ronaldo once again scored a late winner as Manchester United overturned a two-goal deficit against Atalanta to win 3-2 and move top of Champions League Group F at the halfway point.

Mario Pasalic broke the deadlock after just 15 minutes at Old Trafford, with Merih Demiral heading home to double the blow before the half-hour mark on Wednesday.

Marcus Rashford pulled one back after the break as he scored the 300th goal of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's tenure before Harry Maguire levelled with 15 minutes of normal time remaining.

Ronaldo, who scored a stoppage-time winner against Villarreal, then climbed the highest to cap a memorable comeback and move the Red Devils to the summit.

Bayern Munich tightened their grip on Champions League Group E with a 4-0 win over Benfica thanks to two goals from Leroy Sane 

Julian Nagelsmann's side dominated the game at the Estadio da Luz on Wednesday but had to wait until the 70th minute to open the scoring when Sane curled in a free-kick. 

Benfica's Everton increased their lead with an own goal before Robert Lewandowski tapped in and Sane put the gloss on the win with a side-footed finish from inside the box. 

Bayern are top of Group E on nine points and have a five-point cushion on second-placed Benfica, while Barcelona are a further point behind in third. 

Bayern began with a swagger and almost took an early lead when Thomas Muller's ball over the top picked out Sane but he shot wide. 

Odisseas Vlachodimos kept out a close-range Lewandowski header moments later as Benfica's defence were put on the back foot by an intense spell of Bayern pressure. 

Benfica's best chance of the first half came when Darwin Nunez brought a fine diving save out of Manuel Neuer, making his 100th appearance in the competition, with a curling effort. 

Lewandowski had the ball in the net on the stroke of half-time when he got on the end of Kingsley Coman's cross, only for VAR to deny Bayern with the Polish striker deemed to have bundled it in with his arm. 

A crisp half-volley from Benjamin Pavard was deflected onto the post by Vlachodimos just after the interval, while Muller's tap in was chalked off by VAR for offside. 

Neuer's reflexes were tested again by a curling Diogo Goncalves effort that the Germany goalkeeper somehow kept out of the top corner. 

Lewandowski headed over and Roman Yaremchuk shot wide in an end-to-end contest before Bayern finally seized the lead from a free-kick. 

Sane was able to get his left-footed effort up and over the wall, although Vlachodimos was slow to react and almost appeared to dive over the ball. 

Bayern had a second goal when Everton turned a Serge Gnabry cross into his own net before Lewandowski finished from a matter of inches out after good play from Sane. 

Sane notched his second of the game with six minutes left, stroking the ball beyond Vlachodimos after a fine passing move from the Bundesliga leaders. 

Chelsea cruised to a 4-0 victory over Malmo in Champions League Group H on Wednesday despite losing Romelu Lukaku and Timo Werner to injuries. 

After Andreas Christensen scored his first Chelsea goal in his 137th appearance for the club, Lukaku had to go off with an apparent ankle injury after winning a penalty that was fired home by Jorginho. 

Kai Havertz replaced the Belgium international and, after Werner was substituted due to a hamstring issue, increased their lead early in the second half. 

Ballon d'Or nominee Jorginho converted another spot-kick to round off the scoring before the hour mark, though Chelsea remain three points behind group leaders Juventus after the Italian side left it late to beat Zenit 1-0. 

The offside flag spared Werner's blushes after a miskick inside the six-yard box but Chelsea were soon ahead when Christensen volleyed fellow centre-back Thiago Silva's cross into the top-right corner. 

Chelsea were awarded a penalty when Lasse Nielsen scythed down Lukaku in the box and Jorginho confidently sent his spot-kick straight down the middle. 

The Blues suffered another injury blow before half-time with Werner appearing to pull his hamstring while sprinting into the box to support Havertz. 

Havertz was unable to take that opportunity but he got the better of Ismael Diawara – who replaced goalkeeper Johan Dahlin at half-time – three minutes after the restart, dinking fellow substitute Callum Hudson-Odoi's pass in off the post. 

Referee Francois Letexier pointed to the spot again after Eric Larsson bundled Antonio Rudiger over in the box and Jorginho once more produced an unerring finish.

Tuchel took the chance to give N'Golo Kante, Cesar Azpilicueta and Ben Chilwell a rest in the closing stages, with Chelsea seeing out a resounding victory at a canter. 

What does it mean? Chelsea must rely on depth 

With six games to play in the next 17 days, it is unlikely Tuchel will rush Lukaku and Werner back into action even if their injuries are only minor. 

However, the two strikers have struggled for form in recent weeks and Christensen's goal made him Chelsea's 14th different goalscorer this season. 

Havertz also proved himself adept at leading the line, scoring once and play a key role in winning the second penalty. 

Tuchel joins elite group 

This was Tuchel's 10th Champions League game in charge of Chelsea and having kept a clean sheet they have conceded just three times under the German. It is the joint-fewest through a coach's first 10 games for a single club in the competition, joining Fabio Capello (Milan) and Jose Mourinho (Real Madrid). 

Havertz a handful 

No player has scored more goals for Chelsea under Tuchel than Havertz - though Jorginho and Mason Mount also have six. He was a persistent threat during his 70 minutes on the pitch, as he scored and created the chance for Rudiger that resulted in the second penalty. 

What's next? 

Even if Lukaku and Werner are unavailable, Chelsea will feel confident about their chances of securing a result at home to Norwich City in the Premier League on Saturday. 

Juventus made it three wins from their opening three Champions League matches as Dejan Kulusevski's late header downed Zenit 1-0.

A match of few clear-cut opportunities appeared to be petering out to a draw, with Weston McKennie having previously squandered Juve's best chances.

Massimiliano Allegri's team were far from their best in St Petersburg, though Zenit offered little threat going the other way.

The decisive moment came four minutes from time, Kulusevski glancing Mattia De Sciglio's cross in off the post to bring up his maiden Champions League goal and keep Juve three points clear at the top of Group H.

Ronald Koeman says Ansu Fati still has plenty of room for improvement and does not expect the youngster to achieve the "impossible" by completely filling Lionel Messi's void.

The 18-year-old has committed his long-term future to Barca by agreeing terms on a new contract, which Los Cules announced on Wednesday.

Fati inherited Messi's number 10 shirt following the latter's shock switch to Paris Saint-Germain and is considered Barca's big hope now the club's all-time leading scorer is no longer around.

But he was guilty of missing a great opportunity in Wednesday's Champions League clash with Dynamo Kiev, which Barca only won 1-0 despite controlling the contest.

The Spain international has scored 15 goals in 48 games for Barca in total, a tally that is bettered only by Luis Suarez (21), Antoine Griezmann (35) and Messi (69) – none of whom are still at the club – since his debut 26 months ago.

Still regaining fitness after nearly a year on the sidelines with a knee injury, Koeman does not want supporters to get carried away when it comes to Fati's development.

"Ansu's chance today shows he still lacks things. He needs to improve," Koeman said at his post-match news conference.

"That is entirely normal. He will only turn 19 at the end of the month. He cannot be expected to solve all our problems, or what Leo Messi left behind. It's impossible.

"You have to help each other go step by step. We cannot expect miracles, especially when he has been out injured for a long time and is still only 18."

Barca had 11 shots against Dynamo but only found the target from three of those, with Gerard Pique scoring what proved to be the winner with 36 minutes played.

As well as becoming Barca's oldest Champions League goalscorer at 34 years and 260 days, Pique is now also the joint-leading goalscorer among defenders in the competition's history, level with Roberto Carlos (16 each).

Koeman felt his side should have won by a more comfortable margin against accommodating opponents Kiev, who failed to muster a single attempt on target at Camp Nou.

"I'm happy with the performance, but not because of our effectiveness," he said. "In a game when we were so superior and created opportunities, we should have scored more.

"If they don't have opportunities, you can't ask for more from the attackers, but they did. The normal outcome today would have been 3-0 or 4-0.

"I understand that people leave upset, because I am too. We have achieved the result we wanted, but with the opportunities we have created, we have to score more."

Barcelona's victory was their first in the Champions League in six attempts since December 2020, a run that includes back-to-back 3-0 losses to Bayern Munich and Benfica to begin their 2021-22 campaign.

The LaLiga club are now back in contention for a top-two finish in Group E at the midway point, but full-back Jordi Alba – who set up Pique's winner – accepts his side were made to work harder for the points than they perhaps needed to.

"In the first half we had chances to score more than once," he told Movistar. "In the second half we weren't so good under pressure and we suffered a bit.

"They did not create opportunities but we were still not in a good place. We have to improve on the second-half display."

In a worrying update ahead of Sunday's Clasico clash with Real Madrid, Alba confirmed he sustained an injury during the Kiev match despite playing the full 90 minutes.

"It's my toe. We'll have to wait and see what it is," he said. "But now we look forward to the Clasico. We have won our last two games and the fans have responded to that, helping us grow. 

"We are expecting a tough game against Madrid, but we hope to bring more joy to the fans."

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.