Messi scores against 39th team in Champions League to pull clear of Ronaldo

By Sports Desk September 14, 2022

Lionel Messi has moved clear of long-time rival Cristiano Ronaldo as the player to have scored against the highest number of opponents in the Champions League. 

Paris Saint-Germain forward Messi has now found the back of the net against 39 teams in the competition after pulling his side level at 1-1 against Maccabi Haifa on Wednesday. 

It moves him one clear of Ronaldo, who will not catch him this season given Manchester United are playing in the Europa League in the 2022-23 campaign. 

Messi's goal also saw him become the first player in history to score in 18 different Champions League seasons.

Related items

  • FC Cincinnati v Chicago Fire: Noonan desperate for response after 'flat' performance FC Cincinnati v Chicago Fire: Noonan desperate for response after 'flat' performance

    FC Cincinnati head coach Pat Noonan is desperate to find a remedy for his side's "flat" performance last time out, ahead of Chicago Fire's midweek MLS visit.

    The Orange and Blue produced arguably their worst performance of their season during Sunday's 3-1 home defeat against Charlotte FC.

    Cincinnati will have another chance to respond at TQL Stadium, bidding to remain top of the Eastern Conference standings after a surprise defeat in their last encounter.

    Home head coach Noonan acknowledged his side must perform better.

    "Our first 35 minutes were probably the worst of the year," Noonan said of the Charlotte showing. "We weren't ready, and that starts with me.

    "I have to look at why it was so flat… A lot of poor performances and some avoidable mistakes on the two goals that really put the momentum in their favour.

    "I think the warning signs, in terms of how we've conceded, have been there for a couple weeks now.

    "There was loss of concentration, lost a mark, set pieces again… some things that we will continue to try to find answers to. Yeah, the way we're conceding goals is concerning."

    The Fire, in stark contrast to Cincinnati at the summit, are just one spot from the bottom of the East table.

    Chicago did manage a goalless draw with New York City FC, however, in their last match and keeping them ahead of bottom side Philadelphia Union.

    Frank Klopas' side have accumulated 10 points from their last seven outings, though their away form is the worst in the Eastern Conference – with just seven points from 33 available on the road.

    PLAYERS TO WATCH

    FC Cincinnati – Luciano Acosta

    Luciano Acosta has been the leading light for Cincinnati's attack this year, sitting top of the club's scoring charts with 11 goals from 23 MLS appearances.

    The Orange and Blue forward will be integral once more if the hosts are to down the struggling Fire here.

    Chicago Fire – Hugo Cuypers

    It remains to be seen whether Xherdan Shaqiri will return from Euro 2024 in time for this one, having announced his international retirement for Switzerland on Monday.

    Hugo Cuypers will be expected to step up in his absence again, with the striker scoring nine goals for Chicago in MLS this season – at least four more than any other team-mate.

    MATCH PREDICTION – FC CINCINNATI WIN

    The home side are the dominant favourites for this clash, with the Opta supercomputer backing their victory chances at a hefty 66.1% from their data-led pre-match simulations.

    Cincinnati have triumphed in 12 of their last 15 MLS matches, although three defeats have come in their past eight such outings.

    That trio of losses have all come on their home ground, too, yet Cincinnati will be confident of getting over the line in this one.

    Klopas' visitors have failed to score in their last two outings, and that will only boost the hosts' hopes heading into this midweek clash.

    OPTA WIN PROBABILITY

    FC Cincinnati win – 66.1%

    Draw – 18.4%

    Chicago Fire win – 15.5%

  • Shearer expects Southgate departure after gut-wrenching Euro 2024 failure Shearer expects Southgate departure after gut-wrenching Euro 2024 failure

    Gareth Southgate will likely leave England with his last game as the Euro 2024 final defeat, according to former Three Lions talisman Alan Shearer.

    England suffered another European Championship heartbreak on Sunday, falling to Mikel Oyarzbal's 86th-minute winner in Berlin as Spain snatched a deserved 2-1 victory.

    Southgate's side are the first side in history to lose consecutive Euros finals, while the England manager is the first boss to ever suffer defeat in two European Championship showpieces.

    With Southgate's current contract ending in December, speculation remains rife over his future with reports linking Eddie Howe, Graham Potter and Mauricio Pochettino as potential replacements.

    Shearer, a former England team-mate of Southgate, believes the Spain defeat may mark his last at the helm of the national side.

    "My guess is – and it is only a guess – he may now say to someone else that it is their turn to try to get England over the line," Shearer wrote in his BBC Sport column.

    "If he does, then he has put the team in an excellent position for someone to take the team forward, to take that next step and win a major tournament."

    Southgate transformed England's fortunes, steadying the ship to take them to unprecedented ground in the World Cup semi-finals in 2018 and the Euros finals in back-to-back editions.

    "Gareth came in and put a smile on everyone's faces – bringing the squad together," the former Newcastle United striker added.

    "He put the team in a much better position mentally and the spirit he nurtured helped us get to the final again.

    "For achieving all of those things he deserves a huge amount of respect and gratitude, but it's just unfortunate that – for all his excellent work – Gareth just wasn't quite able to get the best out of this team in Germany, and that was the difference between us reaching another final and winning one."

    With the World Cup to follow in 2026, a new era may await England, who must bounce back once more after another setback on the biggest stage.

    Regardless of who takes charge in that tournament, Shearer insists Southgate should be proud of his achievements.

    "Gareth will be hurting like hell after what happened in Berlin but my feeling is that, when the dust settles on the final of Euro 2024, he will decide he's had enough," Southgate's Euro 1996 team-mate said.

    "It should be his decision to stay or go – and I think it will be – but it is a tiring job and he has been doing it for a long time.

    "If he does leave, he should go with his head held high because England are in a completely different place now compared to where they were when he took over in 2016."

  • Copa America 2024 tops and flops: James has still got it, Martinez decisive, Brazil flounder Copa America 2024 tops and flops: James has still got it, Martinez decisive, Brazil flounder

    Argentina are Copa America champions once again.

    They were the pre-tournament favourites according to Opta's supercomputer, and they lived up to the billing in the United States, retaining their title and winning the Copa America for a record 16th time.

    Lionel Scaloni's team beat Colombia 1-0 in Sunday's final, despite Lionel Messi going off injured and in tears, with Lautaro Martinez sealing victory in extra time.

    Martinez was one of the standout positives from the Copa America, but who were the others, and which teams and players failed to impress?

    THE TOPS

    Argentina

    Let's start with the champions. They won the Copa America while only conceding one goal in their six matches, with Scaloni's success built on a mean defence, rather than just the magic of Messi.

    Indeed, Messi's magic was in somewhat short supply. He was a creative fulcrum in Argentina's opening win over Canada, and then scored his only goal of the tournament against Jesse Marsch's team in a semi-final reunion, but injuries plagued his campaign.

    He was in tears as he made his way to the bench in Sunday's final, but nevertheless bowed out of what will surely be his final Copa America as a back-to-back champion.

    Argentina were not always pretty, but with the now-retired Angel Di Maria and Golden Boot winner Martinez picking up the slack, along with Emiliano Martinez in fine form between the sticks, they got the job done.

    Lautaro Martinez

    Argentina's hero was not Messi in the end, but instead it was Martinez, who completed something of a redemption arc after he endured a poor World Cup on a personal level in Qatar, where he failed to convert any of his 14 attempts at goal.

    Indeed, Martinez headed into the Copa America without having scored for Argentina in World Cup 2026 qualifying, and he was not going to be a regular starter.

    Well, he wasn't a regular starter, playing only 221 minutes, but he scored five times to clinch the Golden Boot, matching the best tally by Argentine players at the Copa America since the turn of the century (Messi in 2016, Juan Roman Riquelme in 2007).

    Martinez scored every 44 minutes on average, having 11 shots and outperforming his 3.26 xG.

     

    James Rodriguez

    Messi might have been unable to take a starring role, but James Rodriguez ensured there was one number 10 who took centre-stage at this edition of the tournament.

    James was not picked for Colombia's squad in 2021, yet he has been made his team's main man again by Nestor Lorenzo, who was rewarded by some quite sensational displays.

    The 33-year-old provided six assists, breaking the record Messi set in 2021 (five), while creating a tournament-leading 20 chances, six more than any other player.

    James wanted the ultimate prize, but ultimately had to settle with being named the Copa America Player of the Tournament.

     

    Marcelo Bielsa

    El Loco is back in business, and even though Uruguay didn't reach the final, falling short in the semis, they are a team moulded in their coach's profile.

    Bielsa has his side playing front-foot, fast-paced football, but they are also stern defenders, as they proved in a goalless draw with Brazil, which they then won on penalties despite having gone down to 10 men.

    The future is bright with Bielsa at the helm.

    Jesse Marsch and Canada

    Not much was expected of tournament debutants Canada, but two years in advance of co-hosting the World Cup, the Reds went on a great run to the semi-finals.

    Sure, they only won one match in normal time, but a penalty shoot-out victory over Venezuela in the quarters teed up a rematch against Argentina and the champions just had too much quality (again).

    Jesse Marsch's stock was low after he was sacked by Leeds United, but after a spell out of the game, this job looks to be the perfect fit for the confident American.

    And with Alphonso Davies and Jonathan David spearheading Canada's hopes in 2026, perhaps something special is on the cards.

    THE FLOPS

    Brazil

    Dorival Junior, who took over as Brazil head coach in January, has asked for time and patience to complete a rebuild, having left several big names out due to a lack of form or fitness. Neymar, of course, was also absent, having missed pretty much all of last season due to injury.

    But the Selecao really did flop at this Copa America.

    Their only win came against Paraguay (4-1) in the group stage, and their failure to top Group D meant they went up against Uruguay in the last eight.

    Vinicius Junior scored a double against Paraguay but then got himself suspended for the clash with La Celeste. If he had been available, maybe matters might have been different, but as it was, the nine-time Copa America champions crashed out.

     

    United States

    The USA were meant to go far at what was a dress rehearsal for the 2026 World Cup. Instead, they slumped out in the group stage and Gregg Berhalter was fired.

    It is the first time the Stars and Stripes have failed to advance after winning their opening group-stage match of a tournament, having previously advanced all 23 times they had won their opener.

    After beating Bolivia, USA lost to Panama and Uruguay in a damp squib of a campaign.

    US Soccer must now try and move on from the Berhalter era. They have a talented squad at their disposal, but a golden generation could be wasted if they do not get their next appointment right.

    Jurgen Klopp has reportedly been approached, and reportedly turned that offer down, too.

    The organisers

    From poor pitches to poor organisation, CONMEBOL did not come out of this tournament well.

    Bielsa and Marsch both lambasted the governing body during their final press conferences, while Messi and Scaloni were critical of the quality of the playing surfaces.

    And then, before the final, crowd trouble outside Miami's Hard Rock stadium forced the postponement of the showpiece. Oh, and there was also that matter of fighting in the stands between Uruguay players and Colombia fans.

    There's work to do on that front.

    Mexico 

    Only twice in 10 previous participations at the Copa America had Mexico gone out in the group stage, failing to win a game in back-to-back editions in 2011 and 2015.

    El Tri did manage a victory this time around, beating Jamaica 1-0 in their Group B opener, but that was as good as it got as a 1-0 loss to Venezuela and a goalless draw with Ecuador saw them edged out on goal difference, finishing third in their pool.

    Mexico scored just once from chances totalling 4.86 xG, their forwards letting them down as they recorded the second-worst underperformance at the tournament (behind Canada, - 4.36).

    Darwin Nunez

    Nunez was wasteful for Liverpool throughout the 2023-24 season, and things did not change for him at the Copa America despite Uruguay entertaining en route to the semi-finals.

    His two goals, both of which came in the group stage, came from a total of 21 shots worth 2.68 xG, and only five of those efforts saw him hit the target.

    His figure of 1.93 expected goals on target (xGoT), meanwhile, demonstrated the way in which his sub-par finishing made opportunities less likely to result in a goal.

    Nunez's tournament then ended with the forward being involved in violent clashes with Colombia fans after La Celeste's semi-final defeat. 

     

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.