Albert Celades described Valencia's performance at Lille as their weakest in this season's Champions League after a dramatic late equaliser earned the hosts a 1-1 draw.

After Denis Cheryshev's goal put Valencia on course for three points at Stade Pierre-Mauroy, Mouctar Diakhaby was sent off for a second bookable offence, leaving the visitors with 10 men in the closing stages of Wednesday's game.

Diakhaby's dismissal gave Lille the boost they needed to find a way back into the match and Jonathan Ikone came off the bench to score a stunning goal in stoppage time.

Valencia head coach Celades slammed his side's display after they missed the opportunity to draw level with Chelsea and Ajax at the top of Group H, telling reporters: "I think that was our weakest performance so far.

"You got the feeling that the team wasn't at ease and that we weren't better in any area than Lille. Lille had a lot of chances. They were dangerous in a lot of situations.

"It's difficult to get out of a group like this, but we knew that each game would count.

"They caused us problems, particularly in the first half. We didn't play enough in their half of the pitch. We passed the ball around a lot, but in our own half. We wanted to play further forward, but it wasn't possible.

"We know we didn't play well, but Lille are a very good team. They have all my respect, but we know we can play better."

Lille counterpart Christophe Galtier admitted his side's hopes of progressing beyond the group stage remain slim after they picked up their first point of the campaign.

Galtier picked out the return fixture against Valencia on November 5 as a must-win for Lille, saying: "When you're in a competition, you want to go as far as you can, even though it's a very tough competition, and my players did everything they could to win. I am frustrated for them.

"I do not know if this match can revive us but it shows that we are progressing. We started from nothing in terms of experience and with experience comes progress.

"There are three games left and it will be necessary to win in Valencia."

Julian Nagelsmann felt RB Leipzig's calmness under pressure was crucial to their 2-1 comeback win over Zenit in the Champions League.

Leipzig fell behind to their Russian visitors in the 25th minute when Yaroslav Rakitskiy scored a thumping long-range drive.

Star forward Timo Werner made way at half-time but Nagelsmann's side were a team transformed after the restart, with wonderful goals from Konrad Laimer and Marcel Sabitzer their reward.

"Given our form and the fact we fell behind, I think it's incredible how calm we stayed," said Nagelsmann – as quoted by UEFA.com – following a winless run of four matches heading into Wednesday's match.

"There were a few times we took too many risks and were fortunate that Zenit's final pass lacked precision. This was a crucial win at a crucial time and fully deserved."

Sabitzer's winner was a strike to remember as he controlled Lukas Klostermann's cross on his chest before sending a sweetly struck volley into the top-left corner with the outside of his right foot.

"It was a deserved victory, especially after the second half," Sabitzer said. "We had the opponent clearly under control and then we got our success.

"We were under pressure after losing to Lyon. We have withstood this and have our fate in our own hands. It's been a great football evening."

Leipzig lead Group G on six points, two better off than Zenit ahead of the return fixture in St Petersburg two weeks from now.

"Leipzig are a good, fast team, with quality both in pressing and in attack. But they are still playable – we'll try again in two weeks," said Zenit head coach Sergei Semak.

"We looked disciplined in the first half but then we conceded twice and something broke down in our game.

"The result is fair – Leipzig had their chances and made the most of them."

Raheem Sterling's mentality is behind his prolific run of form for club and country, according to John Stones.

Manchester City winger Sterling netted a quickfire 11-minuite hat-trick after half-time on Tuesday as Pep Guardiola's side demolished Atalanta 5-1 in the Champions League.

Sterling also supplied the cross for Sergio Aguero's 34th-minute equaliser and won the penalty from which the Argentina striker put City in front.

Of his five career hat-tricks, Sterling has now claimed four match balls in 2019, including a brilliant treble in England's 5-0 Euro 2020 qualification win over the Czech Republic at Wembley in March.

"He's been on fire. He's got that mentality, he wants more," Stones said, before noting the one-on-one opportunity Sterling missed after completing his Atalanta hat-trick would probably disappoint the 24-year-old Ballon d'Or nominee. 

"He showed it [against Atalanta]. He kept trying, he might be disappointed because he could have scored four, but I think he should be very proud for scoring a hat-trick in the Champions League.

"I'm very happy for him and he helped us to take a step closer to the next round."

Sterling has 16 goals in 17 appearances for City and England this term – a flying start to the campaign that contrasts sharply with a 2019-20 yet to get off the ground for Stones.

The former Everton centre-back has been laid low for a month at a time following a pair of thigh injuries and only featured as a substitute against Atalanta and Crystal Palace last weekend despite midfielders Fernandinho and Rodri forming a makeshift centre-back pairing.

"Obviously, it's always frustrating going through injuries," he said.

"To me, it was a bit of a setback. Now I'm back, I feel strong and healthy again. Hopefully I can stay fit and help to fight for every competition."

Stones was introduced on Tuesday after Rodri pulled up with a hamstring injury, while his fellow centre-back Aymeric Laporte is recuperating from knee surgery alongside winger Leroy Sane.

City are waiting to find out the severity of another knee problem sustained by left-back Oleksandr Zinchenko, although Stones was at least able to line up alongside Nicolas Otamendi during the closing stages in midweek – the Argentina defender having shaken off a minor back complaint.

"It's been frustrating for all of us, for the manager, for the team, all the injuries we have got," said the 25-year-old.

"It's been a difficult time for us, but the guys have made a step up. They have done jobs for the team that they are not used to, so I give all the credit to them.

"Now, we [Stones and Otamendi] are back, we need to try to stay fit and healthy to help the team to fight for all the competitions."

Benfica claimed their first Champions League win of the season as Anthony Lopes' howler helped them overcome Lyon 2-1 on Wednesday.

Defeats to RB Leipzig and Zenit in their opening two games had left Bruno Lage's side languishing at the foot of Group G, but they kick-started their campaign thanks to Lopes' moment of madness five minutes from time.

The goalkeeper's attempt to start a quick counter backfired when his throw went straight to Pizzi, who gleefully struck a first-time effort into an empty net.

Memphis Depay had earlier cancelled out Rafa Silva's fourth-minute opener for Benfica, who will travel to France for the return fixture in a fortnight with renewed confidence that they can progress to the knockout stages.

 

Jonathan Ikone scored a dramatic late equaliser to earn Lille a 1-1 draw against 10-man Valencia and the first point of their Champions League campaign.

After Group H rivals Chelsea beat Ajax in Amsterdam, Valencia were on course to join those two sides on six points after three games when Denis Cheryshev gave the visitors a lead they barely deserved in the 63rd minute.

But the game unravelled for Albert Celades' men in the closing stages, with Mouctar Diakhaby's sending-off six minutes from time giving Lille a lengthy period of stoppage time to find an equaliser against depleted opposition.

That goal arrived courtesy of a moment of brilliance from second-half substitute Ikone, whose shot on the turn keeps hope alive for Christophe Galtier's men with three group games left to play.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain reintroduced himself to the Champions League in style with two goals in Liverpool's 4-1 win over Genk.

The England midfielder's last appearance in the competition came in the 2018 semi-final, when he suffered a serious knee injury that decimated a year of his career.

Recalled to Jurgen Klopp's midfield alongside Naby Keita, Oxlade-Chamberlain's second-minute opener took a slight deflection but a majestic second before the hour was emphatically all his own work.

Substitute Stephen Odey swivelled to finish in the 88th minute - a deserved reward for Genk's attacking endeavours - although Sadio Mane and the returning Mohamed Salah had put the result way beyond doubt by that stage.

Genk quickly faced a tall order when Oxlade-Chamberlain was given ample room 25 yards from goal to line up a low drive that deflected past the helpless Gaetan Coucke.

Bryan Heynen snatched at a chance to equaliser before Alisson saved from Paul Onuachu – the Liverpool defence undone by two long balls over the top in quick succession.

The same ploy looked like it might bear fruit in the 20th minute, only for Junya Ito to lose his footing inside the visitors' box.

Mane was denied by a fine Coucke save on the end of a return rabona flick from Roberto Firmino before Liverpool were granted a VAR reprieve – Ito shown to be fractionally offside before his inviting cross was powered home by Mbwana Samatta.

Samatta was unable to slide in a low 40th-minute delivery from Ito as Liverpool again looked defensively vulnerable.

The hosts' pacey, direct approach once more looked dangerous after the restart, meaning Oxlade-Chamberlain's immaculate second gave Klopp's men much-needed breathing space.

Firmino latched on to Naby Keita's chipped pass and laid it back to the opening goalscorer outside the area, where a sublime strike with the outside of his right boot sent the ball whistling past Coucke and into the net via the underside of the crossbar.

Salah teed up on Mane for a cute 77th-minute finish before dribbling into space and slotting past Coucke three minutes from time for another quality Liverpool goal as they stayed a point behind Group E leaders Napoli, though Odey's late goal spoiled their clean sheet.

What does it mean? Klopp's men unbowed after tough away assignments

Liverpool were far from their fluent best before Adam Lallana snatched a late draw at Manchester United on Sunday and Genk made much of the running here. The Premier League leaders were again able to offset signs of weakness with rugged grit and determination – qualities best typified by James Milner getting to work in both full-back positions.

Year of the Ox?

It has been a long, gruelling road back to this point for Oxlade-Chamberlain and his was a display to warm the coldest heart. The former Arsenal man provides a goal threat from midfield Liverpool often lack, although few of his efforts from this point will match his stunning 57th-minute intervention.

Genk attack leaves Robertson squashed

The lively and erratic Ito delighted and frustrated the Genk faithful in equal measure but he subjected Reds left-back Andy Robertson to an unusually torrid outing. Klopp's decision to send on Joe Gomez in his place and push Milner to left-back in the 63rd minute spoke volumes.

What's next?

Liverpool host Tottenham on Sunday, with Mauricio Pochettino's men looking to build on a morale-boosting 5-0 win over Red Star Belgrade. Genk host Cercle Brugge a day earlier as they try to improve upon their sixth position in the Belgian First Division.

Dries Mertens scored a goal in each half as Napoli beat Salzburg 3-2 in an entertaining Champions League encounter to stay on top of Group E.

Mertens – who also scored in Napoli's 2-0 win over Liverpool last month – twice put his side in front on Wednesday, only to see teenage prodigy Erling Haaland level for the hosts on both occasions.

The terrific Mertens then turned provider, setting up substitute Lorenzo Insigne for the 73rd-minute winner, a strike that came swiftly after Haaland got his second.

Haaland thought he had put the hosts in front in the eighth minute with an instinctive left-foot finish, but the celebrations of the home fans were cut short by a VAR-assisted offside decision.

At the other end, Mertens was causing problems and he fired Napoli in front after racing inside the penalty area and thrashing a fierce strike from a tight angle past Salzburg goalkeeper Cican Stankovic.

Salzburg responded well to falling behind, though, the outstanding Haaland forcing two good saves from Napoli's Alex Meret before he also shot wide.

Meret also kept out a terrific Patson Daka effort before Haaland got the goal his first-half performance deserved when Hwang Hee-chan skipped past Kevin Malcuit and was then brought down inside the penalty area by the defender.

The striker coolly slotted away the spot-kick as both sides went to the break level and after a tame beginning to the second half, the match exploded into life when Mertens, left free at the back post, turned a 64th-minute cross in.

Haaland levelled again, scoring a thumping header, but Napoli were not to be denied, Insigne's clever finish settling matters in Austria.

Inter got their first Champions League victory under Antonio Conte on Wednesday as they beat Borussia Dortmund 2-0 at San Siro.

Lautaro Martinez's goal midway through the first half and a late Antonio Candreva strike were enough to give the Nerazzurri their first win over German opposition since March 2011.

The result moves Conte's side into second in Group F, level on four points with Borussia Dortmund but ahead on goal difference, with Barcelona three points clear at the top after their 2-1 win over Slavia Prague.

Inter's positive start yielded a breakthrough 22 minutes in, when Nico Schulz played Martinez onside from Stefan de Vrij's chip over the top, allowing the striker to finish low past Roman Burki.

Dortmund began to take control of possession without threatening a swift equaliser, although Samir Handanovic made a good stop low to his right to deny the returning Jadon Sancho just before half-time.

Julian Brandt had been ineffective as the centre-forward in the absence of Paco Alcacer, but he did bring a smart save out of Handanovic after working some space in the Inter box.

The visitors were simply not doing enough in attack, though, and only a timely block from Manuel Akanji stopped Martinez from doubling Inter's lead on the break.

Sancho almost scrambled in an effort, but Marcelo Brozovic blocked and Candreva hacked the ball clear to preserve Inter's slender lead.

Mats Hummels brought down Sebastiano Esposito on the break but Martinez could not beat Burki from the spot.

Candreva made sure of no late drama, however, blasting past Burki after being played clean through by Brozovic.

 

Lionel Messi set a new Champions League record as Barcelona laboured to a fortunate 2-1 victory over Slavia Prague in Group F.

Messi's third-minute goal saw him become the first player to score in the Champions League in 15 consecutive seasons, but it did not pave the way for a convincing performance from Ernesto Valverde's side.

Indeed, Barca relied on a huge slice of luck to retake the lead following Jan Boril's equaliser, with Peter Olayinka deflecting in Luis Suarez's effort from a Messi free-kick.

Though Suarez and Messi subsequently squandered gilt-edged chances to wrap up the points, Olayinka's own goal proved enough to take the wind out of Slavia's sails as Barca moved three points clear at the top of the group.

With the help of some dismal Slavia defending, Barca wasted little time in hitting their stride – Messi tucking home after exchanging passes with Arthur.

Marc-Andre ter Stegen reacted brilliantly to keep out Jaroslav Zeleny's close-range effort as the hosts responded well, yet Suarez should have extended Barca's lead before the half-hour mark.

With Ter Stegen having pulled off two fine saves prior to half-time, Slavia got the equaliser their display merited after the break as left-back Boril charged into the area and prodded in.

But Slavia's hard work was undone seven minutes later – Suarez bundling home from an improbable angle via Olayinka's deflection.

Messi would have doubled his tally soon after if not for Ondrej Kolar, before Suarez fired wide when one-on-one with Slavia's goalkeeper.

Suarez's blushes looked set to be spared when Messi met Jordi Alba's cross, only for the captain to inexplicably slice over from point-blank range, though Barca were ultimately not made to pay for their deficiencies in front of goal despite a late Slavia onslaught.
 

What does it mean? Barca have breathing room

With Inter overcoming Borussia Dortmund in Group F's other fixture, Barca sit on top with seven points from their opening three matches and now have some breathing space heading into the return leg against Slavia.

It was a resilient display from Jindrich Trpisovsky's side, though, and Barca must be far better at Camp Nou as they look to keep themselves clear of the group's other big hitters.

Miraculous Messi into the record books... again

Not only did Messi become the first player to score in 15 successive Champions League campaigns, but the 32-year-old – who has four goals from seven appearances in all competitions this season – also matched Cristiano Ronaldo and Real Madrid great Raul in having netted against 33 different opponents in Europe's premier club tournament.

Barca's defence fail to impress

For all the attacking talent Barca possess, their defence still looks far from convincing at times. Wednesday's fixture was one of those occasions, with Pique, Clement Lenglet and – in front of them – Sergio Busquets particularly lacklustre up against some brave Slavia attacks.

What's next? 

With the Camp Nou Clasico postponed until December due to political tensions in Catalonia, Barca have six days off until their next LaLiga outing, which comes in the form of a home meeting with Real Vallodolid. Slavia, meanwhile, face Viktoria Plzen on Sunday.

Ajax boss Erik ten Hag rued "sloppy" play from his side in Wednesday's late defeat to Chelsea in the Champions League.

Michy Batshuayi struck with four minutes remaining to seal three priceless away points for the Blues, who are level with Ajax on six points after three Group H games.

It was a tough defeat for Ajax given Quincy Promes had a goal ruled out for the narrowest of offside calls and Edson Alvarez hit the post at the Johan Cruijff ArenA.

Ten Hag felt there was nothing to split the teams but acknowledged his side were perhaps not quite at their best.

"It was an equal match in which we were the closest to a goal for a long time," he said in quotes reported by ad.nl.

"Top matches are decided on details and we didn't look good at that goal. I sometimes found our play was sloppy. The disappointment is huge. We were equal."

Ten Hag refused to be critical of Promes' tight VAR call, adding: "It is ultimately up to the video referee."

Centre-back Daley Blind felt a draw would have been a fairer reflection of a tight game.

"We were sloppy at times," he said. "We can blame ourselves because that is something we are normally very strong at.

"It was a struggle and we fought. Chelsea are a top team and we didn't make it easy for them. It was a 0-0 match. That result would have been more appropriate I think."

Frank Lampard believes Michy Batshuayi's match-winning moment in Chelsea's 1-0 triumph at Ajax was just reward for the patience he has shown this season.

The Belgium striker hammered home from fellow substitute Christian Pulisic's assist with four minutes remaining at Johan Cruijff ArenA to snatch a potentially priceless three points in Champions League Group H.

Batshuayi replaced Lampard's first-choice striker Tammy Abraham, who had been mainly subdued, and had already missed a great chance before thumping in Chelsea's winner.

"The fact Christian Pulisic comes on in the last two games and gets two assists, changes games, I thought his performance was outstanding for 25 minutes or whatever it was," Lampard told BT Sport. 

"And Michy, the great thing about the strikers I've got is that, even though Tammy has been scoring for me, the other two stayed patient, worked hard, supported the group and they've got talent.

"So, it was a choice to bring Michy on because of how mobile he can be and he's waited for his moment and he fully deserved his moment there."

Chelsea have now won consecutive away Champions League matches for the first time since 2013 and sit level with Ajax on six points after three matches.

There were a couple of near misses for the Blues, with Quincy Promes having a goal ruled out for a narrow offside call and Edson Alvarez seeing a header hit the post.

"It was our mistake [that led to Ajax's offside goal] and that's why the Champions League is what it is, that's why it's the ultimate because, in a tiny second, if you switch off, it can go against you," Lampard added. 

"But we deserved our luck, I think. I'm a big believer in that, in how you prepare what you're doing with the input out there, you deserve that little break. 

"We haven't had many VAR breaks this season anyway so I suppose it might have been coming, you make your own luck on that one and the one that hits the post. 

"But I thought, for such a creative side that they are, we didn't have Kepa [Arrizabalaga] under many problems and we did have a lot of moments for us in the box where, had we been better, we could have scored more."

Batshuayi was delighted with his strike but was keen for the focus to be on the team effort.

"I think all the team worked hard," he said. "It's good to win, to get three points. I know [I scored the winner] but the important thing is the three points tonight."

Barcelona star Lionel Messi drew level with Cristiano Ronaldo and Raul in the Champions League record books, while also setting a new landmark in the competition.

Messi opened the scoring for Barca in their Group F encounter with Slavia Prague on Wednesday, becoming the first player in Champions League history to score in 15 successive campaigns in the process.

It was a simple finish for the 32-year-old, who tucked home first time after exchanging passes with Arthur to continue his stellar return to action following his comeback from injury troubles which blighted the start of the season.

The goal also saw Messi match Real Madrid legend Raul and his rival Ronaldo as the players who have scored against 33 different sides in the Champions League.

Liverpool have condemned a "highly offensive and inappropriate" banner of Divock Origi displayed by supporters ahead of Wednesday's Champions League clash against Genk.

Reds fans unfurled the banner during the warm-up before the clash in Belgium, which the club say "perpetuated a racist stereotype".

In a statement issued before kick-off, the club confirmed it took swift action to have it removed.

"Liverpool condemns the offensive banner displayed in our section of the ground prior to kick off," the statement read.

"To be clear, the image used perpetuated a racist stereotype. This is completely unacceptable.

"We acted swiftly to have the banner removed and we are now working with the local authorities and stadium team in Genk to identify those responsible.

"Any subsequent action will be taken in keeping with our sanctions process."

Excellent second-half goals from Konrad Laimer and Marcel Sabitzer saw RB Leipzig claim an impressive 2-1 Champions League win over Zenit.

Yaroslav Rakitskiy opened the scoring after 25 minutes for Sergei Semak's visitors, thumping in from long range.

Leipzig's star striker Timo Werner made way at half-time but Julian Nagelsmann's men were revitalised and the influential Laimer got them back on terms.

A picture-book winner from Sabitzer followed in the 59th minute, lifting the Bundesliga side to the top of Group G ahead of the later kick-off between Benfica and Lyon.

Laimer's speculative first-minute strike was pushed onto the crossbar by scampering Zenit goalkeeper Mikhail Kerzhakov.

The visitors began to find room on the break and, after Sebastian Driussi wastefully smashed a volleyed attempt into the turf, Rakitskiy emphatically clattered home a bouncing ball from 25 yards when Leipzig failed to clear.

Werner hacked a chance over when Rakitskiy missed a defensive diving header, leaving Zenit's advantage intact at the interval.

Nagelsmann withdrew the Germany forward before the restart and his replacement Matheus Cunha made an instant impression – juggling the ball inside a crowded Zenit penalty area to fire an overhead kick wide.

That display of flair seemed to spark the hosts and a wonderfully worked equaliser arrived in the 49th minute.

Laimer dummied Ademola Lookman's pass to Sabitzer and continued his run to collect a perfectly weighted return, arrowing a first-time finish across Kerzhakov.

Zenit attacks became increasingly sporadic, although Oleg Shatov and substitute Yordan Osorio both fired over from clear openings.

Those misses came either side of Sabitzer's majestic winner, the winger controlling a Lukas Klostermann cross on his chest and curling a beautiful volley into the top-left corner with the outside of his right boot.

Cunha blotted his influential showing by missing a pair of late one-on-ones, but Leipzig saw out a hard-earned triumph.

What does it mean? Leipzig and Nagelsmann earning Champions League stripes

Leipzig were unable to progress beyond the group stage on their Champions League debut in 2017-18 and Nagelsmann suffered a similar fate in charge of Hoffenheim last season. At half-time, their misery looked set to continue in unison, but the Bundesliga side are now well-placed ahead of a tricky trip to Russia.

Laimer pulls the strings

Laimer's clear gesture to Sabitzer to show exactly where he wanted the pass for his goal was entirely in keeping with a majestic performance from the 22-year-old midfielder, who frequently seemed to see the whole picture unfolding a frame or two before anyone else.

Better not worse without Werner

The home side's star man laboured before the break and Leipzig improved massively in his absence. The fact it remained unclear whether Werner had been withdrawn due to tactical or fitness concerns told its own story.

What's next

Zenit travel to Krylya Sovetov in the Russian Premier League on Sunday, a day on from Leipzig's Bundesliga trip to Freiburg.

Michy Batshuayi's late strike earned Chelsea a 1-0 win at Ajax in Wednesday's Champions League Group H encounter in Amsterdam.

The Belgium striker thumped home fellow substitute Christian Pulisic's low cross with just four minutes remaining at Johan Cruijff ArenA to earn the Blues back-to-back way wins in the competition.

Batshuayi had earlier wasted a gilt-edged chance for Frank Lampard's side in a game that had been struggling to get going.

Ajax will feel aggrieved not to have taken at least a point, though, with Quincy Promes on the wrong end of the narrowest of offside calls and Edson Alvarez hitting the post in the second half.

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