Dries Mertens told Napoli they must back up their 2-0 victory over Liverpool in Tuesday's Champions League opener.

For the second season in a row Jurgen Klopp's Reds were beaten at the Stadio San Paolo without scoring a goal.

But last time out the Partenopei failed to qualify from the group stage despite having earned a 1-0 home victory over Liverpool, who went on to win the tournament.

Mertens' penalty gave Napoli a late lead and Virgil van Dijk's rare error ensured former Tottenham striker Fernando Llorente could add a second to settle matters.

"We gave everything and ran so hard," the Belgium forward told Sky Sport Italia. 

"When you take three points at the end of a game like that, it all feels good.

"It doesn't mean anything to beat the Champions League holders unless we keep going.

"We saw [Group E rivals] Salzburg beat Genk 6-2, they are also a strong team so we have to do well in the next game too.

"Last season we also did well and beat them 1-0 here. I think we prepared well as we knew what we had to do. We didn't have enough of the ball in the first half but we gave our all.

"We lost last season at Salzburg in the Europa League so will not take them for granted. We also have Lecce this weekend and saw that they just beat Torino."

Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson accepts his team must cut out errors at the back, having kept only one clean sheet in eight competitive games this term.

"In the first half I felt we played some good stuff," he told BT Sport. 

"We were just missing that final bit. Napoli are a good side and you have to defend as a team which I felt we did.

"The mistakes for the goal we need to improve on. Overall we can be better, we take responsibility and try and react the right way."

Teenager Erling Haaland announced himself on the European stage with a stunning first-half Champions League hat-trick as Salzburg thrashed Genk 6-2.

The 19-year-old, son of ex-Manchester City and Leeds United defender Alf-Inge Haaland, became only the eighth player to score three times on debut in Europe's elite competition.

Hwang Hee-chan, Dominik Szoboszlai and Andreas Ulmer were also on target for the Austrian champions as they moved top of Group E.

Norway international Haaland, who had already scored 14 times domestically heading into the match, took just two minutes to open his Champions League account when he fired low into the left corner from inside the box.

He soon doubled their advantage when a quickfire counter-attack ended with the teenager being sent clean through and he made no mistake, tucking confidently inside the right post.

A poor Genk clearance was then punished as Hwang steered a shot low inside the right post after being fed by Zlatko Junuzovic. 

Genk gave themselves a glimmer of hope five minutes before the interval courtesy of a sliding finish from Colombia defender Jhon Lucumi after Salzburg had failed to deal with a set-piece.

However, two quickfire Salzburg goals - the first a close-range finish from Haaland to complete his hat-trick before Dominik Szoboszlai converted Takumi Minamino's cross - ensured the contest was over before the break.

Haaland became the first teenager to score more than once on his Champions League debut since Wayne Rooney's hat-trick for Manchester United against Fenerbahce in September 2004.

Mbwana Samatta's header pulled one back for the visitors, yet Ulmer restored the four-goal advantage midway through the second half with a tidy finish after good work again from Junuzovic.

Samatta was initially shown a red card for a challenge on Junuzovic only for the decision to be overtuned by VAR.

What does it mean? 

Despite this being a hugely impressive result for Salzburg, they still face an uphill struggle to qualify from a group also including European champions Liverpool and Napoli. This result shows they will be no pushovers, however, and could be capable of causing an upset, particularly at home.

Haaland heroics won't go unnoticed 

Any hope Salzburg had of keeping their prized asset under wraps is certainly gone now. Haaland well and truly announced himself on the European stage with a devastating display in front of goal that is sure to have caught the eye of the continent's big guns.

Wooden spoon awaits Genk

Given the other sides in the group, bottom spot surely awaits Genk. The gulf in class between them and Salzburg means a tortuous campaign is likely to lie ahead for the Belgian side. 

What's next? 

A trip to Anfield awaits Salzburg on Champions League matchday two on October 2. Things could get interesting if they earn a result on Merseyside. Genk, meanwhile, face a Napoli side buoyed by that win over Liverpool.

Antonio Conte shouldered the blame for Inter's 1-1 draw against Slavia Prague as their Champions League campaign got off to a slow start. 

The hosts needed an injury-time equaliser from Nicolo Barella just to earn on a point on Tuesday, with Peter Olayinka having given the Czech side a deserved lead.

With Group F also containing Barcelona and Borussia Dortmund, the result represents a missed opportunity for Inter and Conte could offer no excuses.

"Slavia Prague certainly played in a very European way, aggressive and with intensity," the Inter coach told Sky Sport Italia.

"We didn't do well to find solutions and get around that. In other games, we were up against sides who sat back and waited for us, whereas Slavia attacked us. We struggled and to be honest I am not satisfied with the performance.

"I must be the first to take responsibility, because evidently I didn't have the effect I wanted in my initial choices or in explaining the kind of match we were going into.

"We could've done far better, this is not the kind of football we are training to play. We've got to improve in terms of character too, but when I talk about a growth process, it goes through games like this too, as I know what kind of situation this is."

The nature of the performance was a concern to Conte, who suggested his side had plenty of room for growth, but warned fans not to expect instant results.

"Slavia beat us in terms of intensity, determination, pace," said the former Chelsea boss. "We showed nothing of our ideas of football. You seem to think I arrive here, touch and the ducklings turn into swans.

"There's a lot of work to do and we need to improve, but that was not our football. When I say we shouldn't let ourselves get swept up in enthusiasm, I mean it. I am here to help these lads improve, so put the blame on me.

"I refuse to talk about individuals, because we were all below par, starting from me. I am the first onto the naughty step, the main dunce.

"I generally hate the long ball and run routine, as that is not our football, but that's what we largely did. It wasn't the plan."

Ross Barkley missed a late penalty as Chelsea's Champions League campaign under Frank Lampard began with a 1-0 loss to Valencia in Group H.

Valencia's off-the-field issues have overshadowed their on-field exploits since Marcelino's sacking last week, but Albert Celades' side bounced back from their 5-2 defeat to Barcelona with a resilient performance at Stamford Bridge.

With Jasper Cillessen in fine form and Mason Mount's injury having compounded Chelsea's frustrations, the Blues' frailties were exposed once more when Rodrigo Moreno prodded in Dani Parejo's free-kick with16 minutes remaining.

VAR came to Chelsea's rescue when the referee decided to award the hosts a spot-kick for a Daniel Wass handball, but substitute Barkley - who overruled Willian to take the penalty - struck the bar.

Fresh from his hat-trick against Wolves, Tammy Abraham should have done better in the sixth minute when he latched onto Cesar Azpilicueta's cross - Cillessen making the save.

Chelsea were dealt a blow soon after, Mount's Champions League debut cut short as he failed to overcome an ankle injury inflicted by Francis Coquelin's robust challenge.

Willian's volley drew a brilliant stop out of Cillessen on the stroke of half-time and Valencia's goalkeeper had more work to do when he kept out Marcos Alonso's free-kick.

But just after Lampard had gambled in throwing on Olivier Giroud for Kurt Zouma, Valencia struck.

Having stole a march on his markers, Rodrigo just managed to make enough contact on Parejo's superb pass.

Chelsea's forutnes looked to have turned with four minutes remaining when referee Cuneyt Cakir handed them a lifeline having looked at the touch-line screen, but Barkley failed to keep his composure.


What does it mean? Injuries Mount up for Lampard

To add injury to insult, Lampard - who was already without Antonio Rudiger, Emerson and N'Golo Kante heading into Tuesday's match - could now be missing influential midfielder Mount for Liverpool's trip to Stamford Bridge on Sunday.

Rodrigo comes alive when it matters

Valencia's front two had hardly tested Kepa Arrizabalaga prior to Rodrigo's chance, but the Spain international made no mistake with a clinical finish.

Barkley's confidence misplaced

Barkley had only been on the pitch seven minutes when he stepped up to take the spot-kick, even though Willian seemed to want it, and there is sure to be an inquest in the Chelsea dressing room as to why the substitute pulled rank after a dismal attempt.

What's next?

The big games come thick and fast for Chelsea, with Premier League leaders Liverpool coming up, while Valencia face Leganes in LaLiga.

Timo Werner struck twice to give RB Leipzig a deserved 2-1 victory over Benfica in their Champions League Group G opener on Tuesday.

Germany international Werner took his tally to seven goals in six games in all competitions this season with two clinical finishes inside nine second-half minutes at the Estadio da Luz.

Werner opened the scoring with a low arrowed shot and then tapped home from close range with 12 minutes remaining.

Benfica provided some late drama when Haris Seferovic scored in the 84th minute, but Leipzig held on for a win that puts them top of the pile after Zenit and Lyon drew.

Dries Mertens and Fernando Llorente struck late to earn Napoli a 2-0 win at home to holders Liverpool in the first game of the Reds' Champions League defence.

Carlo Ancelotti's men won the corresponding fixture last term with Mertens' spot-kick and Llorente's injury-time goal enough to ensure history was repeated in the Group C clash at the Stadio San Paolo on Tuesday.

Andy Robertson was deemed to have tripped Jose Callejon in the box and, after VAR ratified the penalty decision, Mertens squeezed his penalty past Adrian in the 82nd minute.

Liverpool rode their luck in reaching the knockout rounds in 2018-19 and Jurgen Klopp's men will again have to bounce back from an away loss to Napoli this year after Llorente's first goal for the club sealed all three points.

Napoli had an early strike ruled out for offside when Hirving Lozano headed home the rebound after Adrian's excellent double save from Fabian Ruiz.

Sadio Mane's shot was saved by Alex Meret in the 20th minute - Liverpool recording their first shot on target in the game having failed to manage any in last season's visit.

And the Reds should have gone into the break 1-0 up, Firmino heading wide a fine James Milner cross on the Brazil forward's 200th Liverpool appearance.

Napoli had the first big chance of the second half, Adrian showing superb reactions to prevent Mertens from turning in Fabian's deep cross, then Mane overhit a pass to Mohamed Salah as Liverpool broke at speed.

Liverpool were starting to build pressure and, after successive errors from Kalidou Koulibaly and Kostas Manolas handed him a sight of goal in the 65th minute, Salah's drive was turned around the post by Meret.

Napoli's goalkeeper had to deny Mane again as Liverpool looked to finish strongly, but when Callejon jinked into the box he went over Robertson's outstretched leg to win a penalty.

Mertens had to wait for the VAR check, but calmly drilled his strike past Adrian, with Virgil van Dijk's terrible error in stoppage time ensuring former Tottenham striker Llorente could ease home a second.

Lionel Messi's second-half return from injury was not enough to inspire Barcelona to Champions League victory at Borussia Dortmund as Marc-Andre ter Stegen played a vital role in securing a 0-0 draw on Tuesday.

Talismanic forward Messi made his first appearance of the season after recovering from a calf injury, though he was a peripheral figure for Barca, who only secured a point thanks to Ter Stegen saving Marco Reus' penalty.

Dortmund edged a first half that was cagier than many might have expected from a contest between two typically free-flowing sides, though proceedings were more stretched after the break.

Reus spurned a glorious chance to give the hosts the lead in the 57th minute when seeing his spot-kick kept out by Ter Stegen and then Julian Brandt hit the crossbar from long distance as Barca held on to a point.

Dortmund began the brighter of the two sides, but Barca crafted the first opening as Gerard Pique's glancing header in the 13th minute flashed right across the face of goal.

They had to rely on Ter Stegen to remain level 12 minutes later, however, the German thwarting Reus from close range after he latched on to Thorgan Hazard's incisive disguised pass.

Dortmund went close again six minutes before half-time, but Jadon Sancho fired just over from 20 yards after being teed up by Paco Alcacer at the end of well-worked counter.

Ter Stegen was Barca's saviour once more just before the hour mark, producing a brilliant save down to his left to save Reus' penalty after Nelson Semedo had trodden on Sancho's foot.

Messi was introduced soon after for the quiet Ansu Fati, who became Barca's youngest player in the Champions League.

Dortmund still looked livelier, as Alcacer and Reus shot over from close range, before Brandt's 30-yard drive hit the bar, but Barca escaped unscathed.

 

What does it mean? Dortmund pay for lack of ruthlessness

Dortmund will not have many better opportunities to beat Barcelona, who were way short of their brilliant best.

With a penalty and several close-range chances, Dortmund will be left to reflect on having let their illustrious visitors off the hook. 

Ter Stegen saves Barca

While he was not excessively busy, there is no doubt Ter Stegen was vital to Barca avoiding defeat. He made a wonderful block to deny Reus in the first half and then saved his penalty after the break.

Griezmann's influence minimal

With Messi starting on the bench and Luis Suarez only just back from injury, Antoine Griezmann might have been expected to provide the spark for Barca in attack, but he was generally quiet, creating only one opportunity.

What's next?

Dortmund have Bundesliga clashes with Eintracht Frankfurt and Werder Bremen before returning to European action at Slavia Prague on October 2. Barca host Inter on the same day in the Champions League, though they must face Granada, Villarreal and Getafe beforehand.

Cristiano Ronaldo is not the only threat Atletico Madrid will have to contend with against juventus, Jose Gimenez has warned ahead of Wednesday's Champions League showdown.

Ronaldo scored a hat-trick in the last meeting between the two sides in March, securing a 3-2 aggregate win for Juve in Turin.

While that victory sent Juve into the quarter-finals - where they were beaten by Ajax - their reunion with Atletico comes in the opening fixture of Group D, which also includes Bayer Leverkusen and Lokomotiv Moscow.

Former Real Madrid star Ronaldo has a great record against Los Blancos' rivals and is the record goalscorer in Madrid derbies.

But Gimenez does not believe Atletico will need to draw any extra motivation from Juve's comeback, and urged them not to focus too much on Ronaldo. 

"The motivation comes from us, the past is the past," Gimenez said ahead of the match at Wanda Metropolitano.

"We want to play with the same desire we have in any game, in any competition.

"He's a great striker, but Juve is not just Cristiano Ronaldo. We can't think of the game that way. The important thing is to do a great group job.

"We are always motivated. But we know how important this game is, it is the first of the group. It's another season, with other players, it's all different."

Coach Diego Simeone echoed Gimenez's thoughts, though conceded Atletico may not be able to keep out Ronaldo if he is in the mood once more.

"It is difficult to prepare a game against him," said Simeone.

"He is a goal animal, he is at a different level and with him in the area he needs attention, he is not easy to control, he has a change of pace and an ability to score that we have suffered as seen."

Portugal's next rising star is Joao Felix, who has scored one goal in four LaLiga appearances so far this season for Atletico following his €126million move from Benfica, but Simeone stressed the 19-year-old will need time to adapt to the intensity of the Champions League.

"Champions are talented players who can make you win games against any rival," he said.

"We are trying to improve, to grow, to adapt to this type of competition, to make young players understand what it is. I think with Joao Felix, it will take time."

An injury-time equaliser from Nicolo Barella denied Slavia Prague a famous Champions League win over Inter at San Siro on Tuesday.

The champions of the Czech Republic were not expected to escape from a daunting Group F that also contains Borussia Dortmund and Barcelona but looked on course for a deserved victory in Milan through Peter Olayinka.

Slavia could have added to their tally and were punished in second-half stoppage time, as Barella's shot bounced through a crowded box and into the left-hand corner to ensure the game finished 1-1.

Inter started slowly until Stefan de Vrij headed over when unmarked six yards out, before Lautaro Martinez fired narrowly wide.

Danilo D'Ambrosio's header was denied by Ondrej Kolar, who was then lucky not to give away a goal as he made a mess of an attempted clearance but Inter were largely lifeless in the first half.

Kolar had to react smartly to stop Stefano Sensi's cross creeping in and then keep out Martinez's rebound, before Kwadwo Asamoah avoided a red card following a VAR review for a foul on Ibrahim Benjamin Traore, who had to be substituted.

It was his replacement, Jaroslav Zeleny, whose first-time shot was superbly saved by Samir Handanovic only for Olayinka to pounce and turn the ball high into the net to give Slavia their shock lead.

Buoyed by the breakthrough, Slavia continued pressing high and should have scored a second through Lukas Masopust, who blazed over the bar from the edge of the box.

It was substitute Barella who rescued a result for Antonio Conte's side, his half-volley finding a way into the net after Sensi's free-kick had crashed off the crossbar.

What does it mean? Conte's Champions League return off to a bleak start

Conte could not match his domestic success in Europe with Juventus and this was an uninspiring start to Champions League life with Inter.

In a group containing Barca and Dortmund, a draw at home to the weakest of the four teams - on paper at least - has put the Nerazzurri at a disadvantage after only one matchday.

Slavia might just fancy one or two more shocks, though, given the nature of their performance here.

Soucek supreme

Slavia captain Tomas Soucek was efficient on the ball and proved a valuable screen to the back four, keeping Inter's limp attack nullified.

Martinez a figure of frustration

Having missed two presentable opportunities, Martinez was booked for dissent after conceding a free-kick near his own penalty area, compounding an unhappy outing.

What's next?

Inter, who face AC Milan in the derby this weekend, head to Barcelona on Champions League matchday two on October 2. Slavia host Borussia Dortmund.

Memphis Depay's penalty saw Lyon come from behind to draw 1-1 at home to Zenit in the opening round of Champions League fixtures.

Zenit scored the first goal of the group stage through Sardar Azmoun but Lyon hit back six minutes into the second half with a penalty earned and scored by Depay.

Both teams pushed for victory in Tuesday's Group G game but were unable to find a late breakthrough.

Lyon started on top with Moussa Dembele curling a shot narrowly over the crossbar, although Branislav Ivanovic had wasted a free header at the other end.

Marcelo then nodded wide from a Depay corner as Lyon continued to press, but Zenit opened the scoring against the run of play in the 41st minute.

A clever one-two with Artem Dzyuba on the edge of Lyon's box sent Azmoun through and he poked his finish past onrushing goalkeeper Anthony Lopes.

Lyon pulled level early in the second half, though, Depay coolly converting a penalty he won himself by drawing a foul from Magomed Ozdoev in the area.

The equaliser boosted Lyon and Jeff Reine-Adelaide should have put them in front after Zenit were carved open, the former Arsenal youngster instead firing wide from the edge of the box.

That opportunity proved the clearest chance to score a winner for either side, with the spoils shared after Depay failed to make the most of being played in by Reine-Adelaide.


What does it mean? Group G looks wide open

The result will have pleased all four teams who landed in this group, which looks the most unpredictable of the eight sections. Each club, including Benfica and RB Leipzig, will fancy their chances of progressing with the top two spots completely up for grabs.


Depay leads Lyon recovery

Lyon were on top in the first half without creating a great deal, but after the break Depay stepped up. The Netherlands forward can be inconsistent but won the penalty with a moment of magic that was far too good for Ozdoev to deal with.

Of Lyon's last five Champions League goals, Depay has been directly involved in four.


Zhirkov anonymous for Zenit

One of the most experienced players in the competition, 36-year-old Yuri Zhirkov did not offer enough creativity on the wing for the Russian champions. It was no surprise to see coach Sergei Semak replace him with Daler Kuzyaev midway through the second period.


What's next?

Zenit are at home to Rubin Kazan in the Russian Premier League on Saturday, the day before Lyon host Ligue 1 champions Paris Saint-Germain. Matchweek two of the Champions League, played early next month, sees Lyon go to Leipzig, while Zenit host Benfica.

Keeping Neymar amid interest from Barcelona was Paris Saint-Germain's most important piece of business in the transfer window, according to his team-mate Marco Verratti.

Brazil star Neymar was strongly linked with a return to Barca, whom he left two years ago in a world-record €222million move.

The two clubs held meetings and Barca confirmed their interest in the forward, but their reported offer of €130m plus Ivan Rakitic, Jean-Clair Todibo and Ousmane Dembele – the latter apparently having been offered on loan – fell short when the former Borussia Dortmund winger rejected a proposed switch.

As such, many consider PSG's Champions League chances to be greater, and although suspension rules him out of their first two games of the European campaign, Verratti believes retaining Neymar's services was the best bit of recruitment work the club did in the transfer window.

"We need players like Neymar or Kylian [Mbappe], who are a bit above everyone else," Verratti told reporters.

"Neymar had a difficult time with off-field moments that have somewhat destabilised him, but when he learned that he was staying, I saw him with a smile as always.

"He loves football, he is a player who will help us a lot. We are lucky to have him in Paris, we must enjoy him. I know the fans have not forgotten [what happened], but I hope Neymar will do everything [to forget the drama] and we will celebrate all this together at the end of the season.

"In football, there are always some nice moments and I hope that it will end well. Neymar will give 110 per cent.

"Neymar is perhaps the most important player we recruited. There are more favoured teams than us, but we will give everything.

"If we go out, it'll because the opponents are better than us, but I do not want to go out and have regrets like last year [against Manchester United]."

Neymar, Kylian Mbappe and Edinson Cavani will all miss PSG's Group A opener against Real Madrid on Wednesday, meaning Mauro Icardi could lead the line at the Parc des Princes.

The Argentina forward featured as a substitute in the 1-0 win over Strasbourg on Saturday and, although Verratti accepts he is still integrating, he is confident Icardi will prove his worth.

"It takes a little more time to get to know everyone, but it's easy to play with him," Verratti said of the on-loan Inter forward.

"He can score at any time. He can help us, he knows how to play with his team-mates and we are happy.

"We have to wait a bit to see the real Icardi. He has been out for a long time, but he is a magnificent player."

Ansu Fati will become Barcelona's youngest player to feature in the Champions League after being named in their team to face Borussia Dortmund, while Lionel Messi is on the bench.

Messi has yet to feature this term due to a calf injury but has been deemed fit enough to be included on the bench for Tuesday's Group F game in Germany.

His absence has helped clear the path for Fati to come through and the 16-year-old, who has scored two LaLiga goals in three appearances, will get a chance to impress on Europe's grandest stage.

Fati starts in a front three alongside the returning Luis Suarez and Antoine Griezmann, who makes his Champions League debut for Barca. 

Griezmann's fellow new signing Frenkie de Jong also starts.

Suarez, who came off the bench to score twice in a 5-2 defeat of Valencia last time out, replaces Carles Perez in Barca's only change from that game.

Dortmund's XI includes former Barca striker Paco Alcacer, with the Spain international having already hit five Bundesliga goals this season.

Eden Hazard is ready to start Wednesday's Champions League clash against Paris Saint-Germain, according to Real Madrid head coach Zinedine Zidane.

The Belgium international, who joined Madrid from Chelsea in June, has only recently returned to training following a thigh injury and made his debut in Saturday's LaLiga victory over Levante as a second-half substitute.

The Spanish giants kick off their campaign to win a 14th Champions League title at PSG and Zidane is confident Hazard will feature from the start.

"You will see how we're going to play tomorrow, but Hazard is ready to play and ready to start," he told a media conference. "We've had some good training sessions recently and he's ready."

Zidane was quick to praise French striker Karim Benzema following PSG boss Thomas Tuchel's assertion that he is "fantastic and undervalued".

"It hasn't been easy for him but he's always showed the kind of player he is," he added. "He's a goalscorer but that's not the most important thing in football.

"He's a team player and that's what I like the most. I think he's fantastic, just like Tuchel said. I think the same way."

James Rodriguez played the full 90 minutes of the weekend win over Levante, teeing up Benzema for Los Blancos' second goal.

Zidane would not be drawn on whether he would start against the Ligue 1 champions, but he did praise the Colombia international's versatility.

"We'll see, because he can play everywhere, but it's true that it is easier for him to play up front," he said. "It's important for him to be in good form and he is. His position on the field can change because he is a quality player."

Madrid and PSG are red-hot favourites to progress from Group A, which also includes Club Brugge and Galatasaray, with Zidane suggesting the French champions have enough quality to go all the way.

"PSG is also a favourite in the Champions League because they are a great team," he said. "They are always dangerous although sometimes they do not get the expected results.

"But it is a team that is dangerous, which they show every weekend. With [Edinson] Cavani, [Kylian] Mbappe and Neymar they are better, but they are a team that is at a very high level even without those three."

Mauricio Pochettino says he is refusing to think about reaching another Champions League final ahead of Tottenham's Group B clash against Olympiacos on Wednesday.

Spurs reached last season's final in Madrid after a dramatic semi-final triumph over Ajax but were beaten 2-0 by Premier League rivals Liverpool.

Their 2019-20 campaign kicks off in Athens against last season's Greek Super League runners up, with Pochettino adamant that it is too early to be talking about a second consecutive final appearance.

"It's so early to start talking about the final," he told a media conference. "The most important thing is to talk about our squad quality.

"I don't care if because we reached the final people think we are a contender again. We are focused on trying to win [against Olympiacos] and starting in a good way.

"Of course, it was a long period after the final in Madrid and being honest I was thinking a lot about it during the summer.

"You can't forget the feeling of losing in the final. You have to wait until you start again. It's another massive challenge for us."

Tottenham started last season's Champions League campaign in sluggish fashion, picking up just one point in their opening three group games.

They bounced back in style, however, winning seven points from their remaining three games to progress into the knockout stages.

While Pochettino wants nothing less than three points from his side, he admits he would take a similarly poor start if it meant a trip to Istanbul for this season's final.

"I'd sign up to start the same way as last season but finish in Istanbul," he added. "We know we have to start by winning, though. We need to show our quality. We need to show we have learned from the past."

Danny Rose and Serge Aurier have been rested for the clash in Greece, while Juan Foyth, Ryan Sessegnon and Giovani Lo Celso remain sidelined through injury.

John Stones has been ruled out for a month with a muscle injury, Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has confirmed.

City's defensive options had already been hit by Aymeric Laporte being ruled out for six months by a knee injury, while no replacement was signed for departed club captain Vincent Kompany.

That left Stones and Nicolas Otamendi as City's only senior centre-backs and the pair looked shaky last time out as the champions went down to their first Premier League defeat since January, losing 3-2 away to promoted Norwich City.

City will be further stretched for the upcoming period after Guardiola told reporters ahead of a Champions League trip to Shakhtar Donetsk that Stones was injured in training on Tuesday.

"A month, four or five weeks," Guardiola said when asked how long Stones would be out.

Guardiola previously indicated full-back Kyle Walker and defensive midfielder Fernandinho - an unused substitute against the Canaries - could be options in the heart of City's defence.

The City boss said he could also turn to teenage duo Eric Garcia and Taylor Harwood-Bellis to address the growing injury crisis at the back.

"[It is a] Big challenge. For me as a manager, it's an incredible challenge: just one central defender in Nico," he added.

"But I believe a lot. People don't know the spirit and resolve to solve this problem. The players are going to come back with Fernandinho, Garcia, Harwood-Bellis.

"It's happened, but what we are not going to do is complain. If they are not able, they are not able. We have to have 11 players on the pitch, and I like it, finding a solution."

Stones will likely miss Premier League games against Watford, Everton and Wolves at least as well as an EFL Cup trip to Preston North End and a Champions League home game against Dinamo Zagreb.

City will also be without Phil Foden against Shakhtar, with Guardiola confirming: "He has a virus, a problem with the stomach. He's not able [to play] this game or I think the next."

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