Liverpool, Sep 19 (AP/UNB) — Celebrating Liverpool's stoppage-time winner by covering his left eye, Roberto Firmino was finally able to jest about the injury that nearly denied him a chance to face Paris Saint-Germain.
Assurances the scratch on the cornea had cleared up only came hours before kickoff in the Champions League on Tuesday.
"I can open the eye again," Firmino told Juergen Klopp, according to his manager after the 3-2 victory.
Firmino still had to bide his time to play, starting on the bench and watching as Liverpool threw away a two-goal lead. Firmino had been on the pitch 11 minutes by the time Kylian Mbappe equalized for the French champions in the 83rd minute.
But the French World Cup winner's carelessness at the other end allowed Firmino to provide a thrilling climax to a pulsating night at Anfield to open Group C.
Mbappe was dispossessed by James Milner and Joe Gomez and Virgil van Dijk combined to feed the ball to Firmino. The Brazil forward, who injured his eye against Tottenham on Saturday, now had the vision to find the space to weave through the defense and strike the ball low into the net.
"The day before yesterday there was no chance (he could play) and yesterday it didn't look well," Klopp said. "This morning he came in and said 'I'm fine.'"
It all made for painful viewing for PSG coach Thomas Tuchel in his first Champions League game with the French champions. Conceding in the first minute of stoppage time at the end of an electrifying encounter at Liverpool is just what happened when Tuchel's Borussia Dortmund was beaten 4-3 by Klopp's side in the Europa League quarterfinals in 2016.
"This is what Liverpool do," Tuchel said. "They press you and they make it hard for you in possession."
Four months after the five-time European champions lost last season's final to Real Madrid, Liverpool showed its credentials to challenge for the title again by finding a way to tame Neymar and Mbappe for much of the game.
"He's got to work hard to try to improve," Tuchel said of Mbappe.
Left back Andy Robertson, who repelled Mbappe's forays down the right, also showed his attacking ability by setting up the opener. A cross from Robertson was headed in by Daniel Sturridge 30 minutes into his first Champions League start since playing for Chelsea in 2012.
"We are good at getting in people's faces," Robertson said, "especially at home to make it uncomfortable."
Milner, who was Liverpool's tireless engine in midfield, then stepped up to the penalty spot when Georginio Wijnaldum was tripped by Juan Bern, doubling the lead in the 36th minute.
"We conceded goals in the first half," Tuchel said, "but we never lost our confidence."
That was evident when Thomas Meunier sliced into the net in the 40th minute, and PSG avoided a bigger deficit when Mohamed Salah's goal in the 67th was ruled out for Sturridge sinking his studs into goalkeeper Alphonse Areola in the buildup.
Salah, Liverpool's top scorer last season, had a low-key game and it was his misplaced pass that gifted PSG a chance to equalize. Substitute Julian Draxler took the ball forward and released Neymar, who was challenged by van Dijk as he broke into the area. Mbappe seized on the loose ball and fired into the bottom corner.
"In the second half I think we showed a bit more personality," PSG defender Thiago Silva said. "But in a match like this, where the level is high, you always have to be focused, because the other team can score at any given moment."
As Firmino showed after Liverpool seized on Mbappe's misfortune to make it six wins out of six in all competitions this season.
"We lost a ball that usually we don't lose," Thiago Silva said, "and we were punished for that mistake."
PSG is rarely so troubled at home, already sitting five points clear by winning the opening five games of its French title defense. The harder task is wining the Champions League for the first time.
"Maybe today we could have displayed a little bit more aggression," Tuchel said. "Maybe we need to improve in our intensity in some areas of the field."
Paris, Sep 19 (AP/UNB) — If the World Cup had given the impression that Lionel Messi was slipping down soccer's pecking order, the Argentine star made it clear he remains at the top of his game.
Messi scored a record eighth Champions League hat trick on Tuesday in Barcelona's 4-0 win over PSV Eindhoven as Europe's top club competition got underway. Meanwhile, Kylian Mbappe, the teenage star widely viewed as the man capable of dethroning Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo in a near future as the best player in the world, endured a frustrating night in a 3-2 loss with Paris Saint-Germain at Liverpool.
The World Cup winner scored a second-half equalizer but then gave the ball away in stoppage time, a costly mistake that paved the way for Roberto Firmino's winner.
Messi once again failed in his bid to lift the World Cup trophy this summer in Russia, where he did not play at his best and Argentina lost to France in the round of 16. But Messi is a different player in the Champions League, a competition he has won four times, and in which he has scored 103 goals.
With his hat trick on Tuesday, he now leads Ronaldo 63-60 in total group-stage goals.
"We were up against Messi, the best in the world," PSV coach Mark van Bommel said.
Ousmane Dembele also scored for Barcelona, which was already 3-0 up when it was reduced to 10 men as defender Samuel Umtiti was sent off with a second yellow card for a hard foul in the 79th. The Group B result extended Barcelona's unbeaten run at home to 27 matches in the Champions League.
In the group's other match, Mauro Icardi volleyed in a superb equalizer for Inter against Tottenham and Matias Vecino headed in the winner in injury time to complete a 2-1 win for the Italian club on its return to Europe's top competition.
At Anfield, Mbappe scored his 11th Champions League goal since he made his debut in the tournament during the 2016-17 season.
His mistake in stoppage time proved costly for his club, though.
After netting PSG's equalizer in the 83rd minute, Mbappe was dispossessed by James Milner in the closing stages of the match, giving Liverpool a chance to mount a final attack. Firmino collected a pass from Virgil van Dijk and fired a low shot into the far corner to seal the Reds' victory.
PSG was down 2-0 after 36 minutes following goals from Daniel Sturridge and Milner but managed to fight back as Thomas Meunier pulled one back before Mbappe leveled. PSG, whose main goal this season is to win the Champions League after repeated failures, next plays Red Star Belgrade, which drew 0-0 with Napoli.
A year after making it to the final, Liverpool showed it might be capable of challenging for the title once again by finding a way to tame Neymar and Mbappe for much of the game.
Christian Pulisic celebrated his 20th birthday by scoring on his return from injury to give Borussia Dortmund a late 1-0 win at Club Brugge in group A.
"It was great to come back after injury to and to be back with the team," said Pulisic, who made his 100th appearance for the club.
The American, who hadn't played since Aug. 26 due to muscular problems, came on with around 20 minutes remaining and scored in the 85th when Matej Mitrovic's attempted clearance rebounded off his shin and looped in over Brugge goalkeeper Karlo Letica.
"It was a bit lucky but I'll take it on my birthday," said Pulisic, who had missed two Bundesliga games for Dortmund and the U.S. friendlies against Brazil and Mexico.
MONACO LOSES AGAIN
In the other Group A game, Monaco was handed yet another home defeat, losing 2-1 to Atletico Madrid.
After losing all three home games in the group stage last season, Leonardo Jardim's side grabbed an early lead against the run of the play with a goal from Champions League debutant Samuel Grandsir. However, Atletico dominated for long spells and struck back before the interval through goals from Diego Costa and Jose Gimenez.
Schalke goalkeeper Ralf Faehrmann saved one penalty but was beaten by another as Porto salvaged a 1-1 draw in their Champions League-opening game on Tuesday. Galatasaray defeated Lokomotiv Moscow 3-0 at home in the other Group D game.
In Germany, Porto keeper Iker Casillas started his 20th Champions League campaign, more than any other player.
Dhaka, Sept 18 (UNB) – Bangladesh Football Federation (BFF) on Tuesday announced a 31-member preliminary squad of Bangladesh National Football team for Bangabandhu Gold Cup International Football Tournament beginning on October 1 at Sylhet District Stadium.
The much-talked about custodian Shahidul Alam Sohel, who was responsible for conceding the first goal against Nepal in the just concluded SAFF Suzuki Cup Football, was not considered in the preliminary squad.
National teams of six countries—Palestine, the Philippines, Loas, Tajikistan, Nepal and hosts Bangladesh will compete in the 12-day meet at three venues—Bangabandhu National Stadium (Dhaka), Sylhet District Stadium (Sylhet) and Bir Shrestha Ruhul Amin Stadium (Cox’s Bazar).
The residential training camp of the team begins on Thursday (Sept 20) at Hotel La Vince in Kawran Bazar in the capital.
Selected players have been asked to report to Team Manager Satyajit Das Rupu on Thursday at 5 pm with their kits.
Preliminary squad of Bangladesh team: Ashraful Islam Rana, Anisur Rahman, Rasel Mahmud, Mahfuzur Rahman Pritom (Goal Keeper), Bishwanath Ghosh, Tutul Hossain Badsha, Topu Barman, Waly Faisal, Sushanta Tripura, Rahmat Miah, Nasiruddin Chowdhury, Yeasin Khan, Ariful Islam (Defender), Mamunul Islam Mamun, Atiqur Rahman Fahad, Jamal Bhuiyan, Masuk Miah Zoni, Biplo Ahmed, Emon Mahmud (Mid-Fielder), Rabiul Hasan, Jafar Iqbal, Mohammad Saaduddin, Sohel Rana, Faisal Mahmood, Mohammad Ibrahim (Winger), Mahbubur Rahman Sufil, Shakawat Hossain Rony, Nabib Newaz Jibon, Towhidul Alam Sabuz, Motin Miah and Jabed Khan (Forward).
Southampton, Sep 18 (AP/UNB) — Glenn Murray converted a penalty in injury time for Brighton to recover from two goals down to draw with Southampton 2-2 in the English Premier League on Monday.
Shane Duffy was fouled by Southampton substitute James Ward-Prose, leaving Murray to roll the ball down the middle for his fourth goal of the season.
Pierre Hojbjerg's drive from distance and a penalty from Danny Ings appeared to put Southampton on course for successive league wins for the first time since April 2017.
Duffy began the comeback heading in a free kick.
Liverpool, Sep 18 (AP/UNB) — Facing fresh vilification for his diving, Neymar should find a more sympathetic audience in the Champions League this week, even admiration.
"I don't think he is a person who wants to act," Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp said ahead of Tuesday's game against Paris Saint-Germain, "because if you are like that you cannot play the football he plays."
Given how the Brazil forward can be targeted by opponents, Klopp understands why he might go down too easily.
"When I saw a few games at the World Cup I know people were talking about that when it looked like he made more of a situation than it was," Klopp said on Monday. "That is a completely normal reaction because players were really going for him and he wants to protect himself and I understand that as well.
"If an opponent gets a yellow card then he is much closer to a red card so I see if from that perspective. I thought it is smart that he saves himself."
Neymar is making the trip to Anfield for his most high-profile game since the World Cup, where he was ridiculed for some playacting.
"He obviously gets kicked a lot," said Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson, who was at the World Cup with England. "So he needs to try and use it as best he can."
Neymar was booked for going down easily under minimal contact in a friendly last week against El Salvador. That incident came despite a post-World Cup apology for some of his exaggerated reactions after being fouled in Russia, where he rushed back into action three months after breaking a foot.
"We don't go for him against us," Klopp said. "We play football and we want to win the ball. We don't try to act in these kind of things; we try to avoid passes to him, try to avoid him winning challenges which is a big job to do.
"I am not sure if it is 100 percent possible to avoid his qualities. I am pretty sure it is not. He is a fantastic footballer, an outstanding player."
Neymar is also well rested for PSG's group-stage opener in the Champions League. PSG's squad is so strong that Neymar — and Kylian Mbappe — were left out of the team last Friday and Saint-Etienne was still beaten 4-0.
"He will be 100 percent fresh for us," Klopp said. "He is not injured anymore, so we will see the full Neymar football package."