Benfica midfielder Pizzi felt his side's performances in the Champions League warranted more than a third-place finish in Group G, even if it secured them a spot in the Europa League.

The Portuguese team signed off the group stage with an emphatic 3-0 win over Zenit on Tuesday.

It was a victory which ensured they will play European football next year, albeit in the second-tier competition, courtesy of their superior head-to-head record with Zenit.

However, Pizzi claimed what they showed overall across the campaign should have led to a spot in the last 16, with RB Leipzig and Lyon instead progressing to the next stage.

"I think that we deserved a bit more in this competition," Pizzi told reporters after their triumph over Zenit.

"It was not these last two games that dictated this outcome. In this last game, we could no longer look back. 

"We wanted to play and win this game and that's what we did. We won convincingly."

Pizzi provided the assist for Benfica's opening goal, scored by Franco Cervi, and then found the net himself from the penalty spot.

The 30-year-old has enjoyed a fruitful season in Europe and has scored in three of his last four Champions League games for Benfica, having failed to score in any of his first 33 appearances in the competition.

"I am in a very good phase. Fortunately, things have gone well," he added.

"I have support from the whole structure at Benfica. Our dressing room is strong and united, we all row for the same side. It's everyone's work that is involved here.

"Once again, I was able to help the team with an assist and a goal, but the most important thing is the team's victory."

Benfica head coach Bruno Lage shared Pizzi's sentiment of frustration that they were not able to progress.

He said: "Could we have gone further? Yes. But we have to come to the games without negative emotions of the past, whatever the competition."

Despite their own lacklustre display, Zenit looked set to qualify for the knockout stage ahead of Lyon, only for an equaliser from Memphis Depay and send the Ligue 1 side through.

The result, combined with their own loss, means Zenit finish at the bottom of the final table.

Head coach Sergei Semak said: "Everyone did know the result of the other match at half-time when RB Leipzig led 2-0 at Lyon. 

"But I don't think it influenced our performance, made them relax or anything. It's all about the mistakes we made on the pitch."

Zenit were knocked out of the Champions League on Tuesday after a 3-0 away defeat to Benfica, who secured a Europa League spot.

Benfica clinched the victory thanks to Franco Cervi's tap-in, Pizzi's penalty and an own goal from Sardar Azmoun as Zenit played over a third of the match with 10 men following Douglas Santos' dismissal.

Zenit finished bottom of the group as Lyon fought back from two goals down to draw 2-2 against RB Leipzig and ended up a point ahead of them in Group G.

Benfica claimed the Europa League spot courtesy of a better head-to-head record with the Russian side with both teams level on seven points.

Champions League holders Liverpool need at least a point against Salzburg to secure their progression from Group E, though they will come up against an Erling Haaland in sensational form.

Salzburg's youngster has found the net in all of their group games so far this season and will become the first player to convert in his first six Champions League appearances should he score for Salzburg against the Reds.

Barcelona have top spot in Group F secured but Inter still have it all to play for on Tuesday as they look to edge out Borussia Dortmund, and Antonio Conte's side have no Lionel Messi to worry about, with Ernesto Valverde resting Barca's talisman.

Chelsea will look to end a five-match winless run at home in the Champions League to ensure their place in the last 16, while Dortmund are aiming to reach the second round in consecutive seasons for the first time since 2015.

Salzburg v Liverpool 

8 - Salzburg's Haaland has scored eight goals from five appearances in this season's Champions League. No player has ever scored in their first six matches in the competition.

11 - Since the start of the 2017-18 campaign, the two players with the most Champions League assists are Liverpool duo Roberto Firmino and James Milner, with 11 each.

16 - Only Tottenham (17) and Bayern Munich (21) have scored more goals than Salzburg's 16 in this season's competition.

2 - Liverpool have only won two of their 11 most recent Champions League away group stage games, losing four of the past five. The Reds last won consecutive group matches on the road in the competition back in September 2008.

Napoli v Genk

6 - Carlo Ancelotti appears to be under pressure at Napoli, though his side are unbeaten in their past six home matches in the Champions League.

14 - Dries Mertens, who wears number 14 for Napoli, has been involved in 14 goals in his past 14 Champions League starts, scoring 10 times and providing four assists.

Inter v Barcelona

0 - Inter have never lost a home game against Spanish teams in the Champions League or European Cup.

5 - Lautaro Martinez is aiming to become the first Inter player to score in five successive Champions League/European Cup appearances.

0 - Barca have failed to score in two Champions League matches this season. Never before in the competition have they fired blanks in three group games in a single campaign.

Borussia Dortmund v Slavia Prague

13 - Dortmund are unbeaten in 13 of their past 15 Champions League group stage matches at Signal Iduna Park, winning eight times.

3 - Julian Brandt already has three assists for Dortmund in Group F. The playmaker failed to assist a single Champions League goal for Bayer Leverkusen in 21 appearances between 2014 and 2017.

22 - Slavia have failed to score with each of their 22 most recent shots from open play in the Champions League, with their goal in a 3-1 defeat to Inter on matchday coming via a penalty by Tomas Soucek.

Benfica v Zenit

1 - Victory for Zenit would see the Russian side reach the knockout stages in successive appearances in the Champions League for the first time.

29 - Both teams have scored 29 per cent of their Champions League goals from outside of the box so far this season.

Lyon v RB Leipzig

88 - Leipzig have scored 88 per cent of their Champions League goals this season in the second half of matches, while their only goal in the first half came in added time against Zenit.

80 - Dayot Upamecano has made 80 progressive ball carries upfield this season in the UEFA Champions League - more than any other player.

Chelsea v Lille

5 - Chelsea are winless in their past five Champions League games at Stamford Bridge. It is their longest run without a home win in the competition.

10 - Willian has netted 10 goals for Chelsea in the tournament. If he scores against Lille, it would make him their outright fourth-highest scorer in the competition, behind Didier Drogba (36), current coach Frank Lampard (23) and Nicolas Anelka (12).

1 - Lille have taken just one point in the Champions League this season. Under the current group stage format, the only French side with fewer in a single campaign in the competition was Marseille in 2013-14 (0).

Ajax v Valencia

9 - Since the start of last season, only three teams have managed more wins in the Champions League than Ajax, who have nine victories under their belts in that time.

52 - Excluding own goals, Hakim Ziyech has either scored or assisted 52 per cent of Ajax's goals in the Champions League in 2019.

143 - Quincy Promes averages a goal every 143 minutes in the Champions League, placing him behind only Ruud van Nistelrooy (109) in terms of Dutch players in the competition.

Rudi Garcia rued Lyon allowing their Champions League fate to slip from their grasp with a 2-0 defeat at Zenit.

Lyon controlled the action in St Petersburg for long periods but lacked cutting edge in the injury absence of star attacker Memphis Depay.

Zenit's imposing centre-forward Artem Dzyuba headed the hosts into a 42nd-minute lead and Magomed Ozdoev's deflected strike six minutes from time made the points safe.

The result leaves Lyon level with Zenit on seven points heading into the final matchweek, knowing they must better the Russian Premier League champions' result next time out to finish above them.

"We owed it to ourselves to do better," Garcia told reporters.

"We needed at least a draw to keep matters in our own hands when it comes to qualifying.

"We conceded two goals when we sat back. We would have done better pressing higher up the pitch and creating more chances."

Group leaders RB Leipzig have already qualified and are up next for Lyon, while Zenit travel to Benfica – a Europa League berth now the best the Portuguese giants can hope for.

Sergei Semak oversaw back-to-back defeats against Leipzig and knows his men have room for improvement.

"What I didn't like was the first part of the second half when we were too passive," the Zenit head coach said.

"Apart from that we did what was needed and deserved to win. But as you saw, there are certain aspects we have to work on."

Dzyuba could not resist poking a little fun at Zenit's domestic rivals Lokomotiv Moscow being knocked out of the Champions League following their defeat at home to Bayer Leverkusen on Tuesday.

"It was sad to see Lokomotiv eliminated last night but we'll try to go as far as possible – I can promise that," he told UEFA.com.

"It was tough under pressure from Lyon in the second half. But we were quite good and Misha Kerzhakov, especially, had a great game in goal."

Zenit reinvigorated their hopes of reaching the Champions League knockout stages with a 2-0 win over Lyon in St Petersburg.

Zenit and Lyon are on seven points apiece heading into the final matchday thanks to a precision headed finish from powerhouse forward Artem Dzyuba in the 42nd minute and a late deflected Magomed Ozdoev strike.

Lyon enjoyed the lion's share of possession, controlling the action for long periods, but lacked a cutting edge in the injury absence of Netherlands star Memphis Depay.

Sergei Semak's men responded well to consecutive defeats at the hands of Group G leaders RB Leipzig to move above their Ligue 1 opponents into the second qualifying spot by virtue of a superior head-to-head record.

Both teams had bright moments during the opening half hour but Lyon had the greater control and almost led in the 23rd minute – Zenit goalkeeper Mikhail Kerzhakov plunging bravely to prevent Ozdoev from turning Bertrand Traore's cross into his own net.

The hosts came close when Sardar Azmoun got to Daler Kuzyaev's chipped pass ahead of Lyon keeper Anthony Lopes and the bouncing ball came back off the left post.

Azmoun's towering striker partner Dzyuba found the breakthrough three minutes before the break, expertly directing Douglas Santos' corner past the despairing Lopes.

Moussa Dembele headed just wide as the hour approached, as Lyon forced their opponents on to the retreat.

Lopes leapt theatrically to gather a speculative Sebastian Driussi strike after Lyon again failed to deal with a set piece, but the threat from Zenit was increasingly sporadic.

Nevertheless, one of those raids six minutes from time was enough to seal the points as Ozdoev's deflected drive from substitute Yuri Zhirkov's lay-off left Lopes with no chance.

What does it mean? All to play for on matchday six

Zenit will remain ahead of Lyon if they match the latter's result in Leipzig when they travel to Benfica, with other permutations to be decided once Group G's first and last sides clash later on Wednesday.

Dominant Dzyuba proves decisive

A throwback centre-forward unlikely to win any marks for artistic impression, Russia international Dzyuba is a handful for any defence and Lyon never looked comfortable in his presence.

The 31-year-old's little-and-large partnership with Azmoun will always pose questions and his finish was one any classic number nine would be proud of.

Cornet fails to hit the right notes

Goals home and away against Manchester City last season served notice of Maxwel Cornet's pedigree at this level, but the Lyon winger remains a frustratingly inconsistent performer. He was too often on the margins in St Petersburg, failing to play his part in terms of filling the Memphis void.

What's next

Zenit return to their own patch on Sunday to host Spartak Moscow in the Russian Premier League, while Lyon will have to regroup in time for a Ligue 1 trip to Strasbourg.

Lionel Messi is bidding to score at home in the Champions League for the first time this season as Barcelona take on Borussia Dortmund.

The Argentina international fired his latest blank in the 0-0 draw with Slavia Prague three weeks ago, leaving his side with work to do if they are to progress to the last 16.

Barca will be through if they beat Dortmund or if they draw and Inter fall to defeat at Slavia in the other Group F contest taking place on Wednesday.

Elsewhere, holders Liverpool host Napoli at Anfield aiming to avenge a 2-0 defeat from the reverse fixture, while Chelsea will reach the knockout stages with victory against Valencia.

Below, we have highlighted the key data ahead of Wednesday's eight matches.

Barcelona v Borussia Dortmund

12 - Barcelona forward Messi scored with his last shot at Camp Nou in the 2018-19 Champions League season. He has attempted 12 without success this term, failing to score in both home matches. Should he not to score in this game, it would be first time since October 2011 he has failed to find the back of the net in three consecutive home games in the competition (a run of four).

4 - Borussia Dortmund's Achraf Hakimi has scored four Champions League goals this season – only one Moroccan player has ever netted more in a single campaign, with Marouane Chamakh scoring five for Bordeaux in the 2009-10 campaign.

Slavia Prague v Inter

3,119 - Slavia Prague have given 3,119 minutes to Czech players in the Champions League this season – the most by players of the nation of the club they are representing in the competition this campaign.

3 - Lautaro Martinez has scored in his last three Champions League appearances for Inter. He could become the fifth Argentinian to score in four consecutively, after Hernan Crespo (2002), Lionel Messi (six occasions), Sergio Aguero (2019) and Ezequiel Lavezzi (2013).

Liverpool v Napoli

2 - Liverpool's Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has scored in his last two Champions League appearances – the only Englishman to score in three consecutive matches for the Reds is Steven Gerrard (five in a row in 2007-08).

3 - Napoli head coach Carlo Ancelotti was the last manager to win an away Champions League match at Anfield, leading Real Madrid to a 3-0 victory in October 2014. No coach has won more away Champions League games in England than Ancelotti (three – level with Jose Mourinho and Massimiliano Allegri).

Genk v Salzburg

0 - Genk remain winless in all 16 of their Champions League matches (W0 D8 L8). It is the fifth longest winless run in the competition's history and the longest since December 2017 (Maribor – 17 matches).

5 - Salzburg striker Erling Haaland will become just the third player to score in his first five Champions League appearances if he scores in this match. The two to do so are Alessandro Del Piero (1995, Juventus) and Diego Costa (2013-14, Atletico Madrid).

Valencia v Chelsea

3 - Valencia have won three of their last four home Champions League games (W3 D0 L1), having lost four of their previous five (W1 D0 L4).

14 - Chelsea striker Tammy Abraham has had more shots than any other Chelsea player in the Champions League this season (14). However, he has found the net with just one of those shots and has scored as many own goals as he has goals (one).

Lille v Ajax

10 - Lille are winless in 10 home Champions League matches (W0 D4 L6). Only two teams have ever had longer home winless runs – Spartak Moscow (11 between 2001 and 2006) and Steaua Bucharest (13 between 1996 and 2013).

10 - Ajax's Hakim Ziyech has been involved in 10 goals in his last 12 Champions League appearances (four goals, six assists). The Moroccan has either scored or assisted in each of his last six away games in the competition (two goals, five assists).

RB Leipzig v Benfica

30 - RB Leipzig are one of only two teams yet to give a single minute to a player aged 30+ in the Champions League this season, along with Genk. In his 10 games as coach in the competition, Julian Nagelsmann has only used one player aged 30 or older – Hungarian striker Adam Szalai for Hoffenheim last season.

10 - Benfica have lost all 10 of their away matches in Germany in the European Cup/Champions League, facing six different teams without success.

Zenit v Lyon 

2 - Zenit have lost two of their last three home European matches (excluding qualifiers) – one more than they had lost in their previous 21 home games (W18 D2 L1).

4 - Lyon's Memphis Depay has scored in all four Champions League matches this season. No Lyon player has ever scored in five consecutive appearances, while only three Dutchmen have scored in five or more – Roy Makaay (2002), Ruud van Nistelrooy (2002, 2003 and 2007) and Arjen Robben (2013).

Diego Demme and Marcel Sabitzer earned RB Leipzig a 2-0 victory at Zenit that edged Julian Nagelsmann's side closer to qualification for the last 16 of the Champions League.

Stand-in captain Demme rifled a fierce shot past Zenit goalkeeper Mikhail Kerzhakov in the fifth minute of first-half stoppage time to put Leipzig on the path to an important victory.

Nagelsmann's side put six goals past Wolfsburg in the DFB-Pokal last Wednesday and scored eight against Mainz at the weekend, but they lacked a clinical edge with Timo Werner starting on the bench due to a muscle complaint.

Werner, who scored five goals and assisted the same amount in those two resounding victories, came on in the 61st minute and played a role in Sabitzer ensuring they retained top spot in Group G regardless of the result between Lyon and Benfica later on Tuesday.

Leipzig thought they had taken the lead in the 14th minute when Marcel Halstenberg picked out the bottom-right corner from 20 yards, but referee Orel Grinfeld disallowed the goal upon review because the ball brushed Christopher Nkunku's arm in the build-up.

Douglas Santos almost won Zenit a penalty after the half-hour mark, though VAR confirmed the on-field decision to only award a free-kick.

Sardar Azmoun scuffed wide and Zenit paid the price when Sabitzer's free-kick was blocked and Demme drilled a fine follow-up effort home from 25 yards on the stroke of half-time.

Nkunku and Emil Forsberg were denied by Kerzhakov before Werner was sent on for the Frenchman.

Werner played a role in Leipzig's second goal in the 63rd minute, feeding Forsberg with a pass the Swede slid in behind for Sabitzer to finish at the near post.

Artem Dzyuba and Dayot Upamecano were booked for a heated confrontation before Peter Gulacsi produced a stunning stop to keep Yordan Osorio's header out of the top-left corner and secure the clean sheet.

 

What does it mean? History for Nagelsmann

Nagelsmann became the youngest coach to oversee 10 games in the Champions League at 32 years and 105 days old, beating the record set by BATE's Viktor Goncharenko in 2011 by two years and 39 days.

The former Hoffenheim boss also navigated Leipzig's first clean sheet in the competition at the 10th attempt.

Sabitzer on song

While Werner has grabbed the headlines over the past week, Sabitzer once again proved key for Leipzig in the Champions League. He has now been directly involved in six goals in his nine Champions League appearances for the club.

Erokhin lives on the edge

Aleksandr Erokhin was booked for a wild lunge on Upamecano inside six minutes and while he avoided a second yellow card for another reckless challenge on Konrad Laimer, Leipzig used the resulting free-kick to move ahead.

What's next?

Leipzig take on Hertha Berlin away on Saturday, while Zenit travel to Arsenal Tula the following day.

Tuesday's Champions League schedule presents the chance for Marco Reus to set a new record for Borussia Dortmund, while Erling Haaland will hope to maintain his scoring run.

Reus drew a blank last time out in Europe, the Bundesliga side losing 2-0 to Inter, but will hope to make club history in the return fixture in Germany.

Barcelona are top of the table in the same group and the reigning LaLiga champions will be eager to preserve their unbeaten home run when they take on Slavia Prague at Camp Nou.

Liverpool are another team who seem to relish having home comforts, plus history tells us Chelsea should be feeling confident when Ajax visit Stamford Bridge.

We have picked out some of the notable numbers from Opta ahead of the eight games taking place at the start of matchweek four.

 

Barcelona v Slavia Prague

15 - Following his goal last time out, Lionel Messi has now scored in 15 consecutive UEFA Champions League seasons he has appeared in (since the start of 2005-06), a feat only matched by Real Madrid icon Raul (between 1995-96 and 2010-11).

33 - Barcelona are on a run of 33 home games without defeat in the competition. That is the longest streak in Champions League history, while they have only lost once in their last 55 outings at Camp Nou.

 

Borussia Dortmund v Inter

3 - Lautaro Martinez will look to become the first player to find the net in three consecutive Champions League appearances for Inter since Samuel Eto'o, who scored in four in a row in 2010

17 - Marco Reus has scored 17 Champions League goals for Borussia Dortmund, making him the club's joint-top scorer alongside former team-mate Robert Lewandowski.

 

Chelsea v Ajax

10 - Willian has created 10 goalscoring chances for his Chelsea team-mates so far in Europe this season. However, he is still yet to provide an assist!

100 - Chelsea have won every Champions League match when they have faced Eredivisie opponents. They overcame Ajax in the reverse fixture last time out, adding to home and away victories over Feyenoord in the 1999-2000 season.

 

Liverpool v Genk

11 - Alisson has kept 11 clean sheets in his Champions League career - six for Liverpool and five for Roma. Only Barcelona's Marc-Andre ter Stegen (12) has posted more since the start of the 2017-18 season.

23 - Liverpool have not lost at home in all European competitions since October 2014, a run of 23 games. The last visiting team to celebrate success at Anfield? Real Madrid (3-0).

 

Lyon v Benfica

0 - Benfica have won none of their four away Champions League matches played on French soil (D2 L2). In fact, they have failed to score a single goal so far!

6 - Lyon have drawn each of their last six home Champions League matches – the longest such run in the history of the competition.

 

Napoli v Salzburg

13 - Will Napoli get lucky at home for a 13th time in the Champions League? They have won 12 of their last 18 played out in front of their own fans, including four of the last five since a 4-2 loss to Manchester City in November 2017.

19 - Erling Haaland (19) is aiming to become only the second teenager in the history of Europe's top-tier club tournament to score in four consecutive appearances. Only Kylian Mbappe has previously achieved the feat.

 

Valencia v Lille 

10 - Valencia have conceded at least once in each of their last 10 home Champions League matches. They have been beaten in their last two European home games and will be aiming to avoid losing three in a row at the Mestalla for the first since November 2007.

14 - Including qualifiers, Lille are winless in their last 14 European games (D7 L7). Their last victory was way back in July 2014.

 

Zenit v RB Leipzig

14 - Zenit have won their previous 14 group-stage matches at home in the Europa League and Champions League combined, a run stretching back to November 2014, when they beaten 2-1 by Bayer Leverkusen.

10 - At 32 years and 105 days, Leipzig boss Julian Nagelsmann will become the youngest coach to reach the milestone of 10 Champions League matches in charge.

Claudio Marchisio has revealed details of an armed robbery at his home earlier this week, telling of how five men held the former Juventus star and his wife at gunpoint.

The ex-Italy midfielder, who announced his retirement earlier this month, was targeted by the armed gang at his property in Vinovo, Turin, on Tuesday.

Marchisio was made to hand over valuable possessions but both he and his wife were left physically unharmed.

Reliving the horrific ordeal, the 33-year-old told Corriere della Sera: "They had their guns pointed at our heads. It was tough, as I'd never seen two real guns before.

"Fortunately, we managed to stay clear-headed. There were five men who broke into our home in Vinovo, they were asking me where we kept the safe. 

"I told them we didn't have one, but they didn't believe me. We really don't. At that point, they took everything they could find and then left. 

"I was frightened for myself and my wife Roberta. Thank heavens the kids weren't at home. They'd gone to play football and their grandfather hadn't brought them back yet.

"In fact, their coach was the first to suspect something was wrong, because we didn't answer the phone. 

"When the robbers realised someone was concerned, they started to rush. That was a stroke of real luck."

Marchisio added: "I know these incidents happen all the time, all over the world. This time it happened to us and fortunately we are safe and sound to tell the tale. 

"That's the most important thing, because I care little for the material possessions that were taken. 

"What remains is the fear but, despite it all, we were able to stay calm, even with a gun pointed to our heads."

Marchisio won 15 major trophies with boyhood club Juventus, including seven Serie A titles, before joining Zenit in 2018 and spending a single season in Russia before his retirement.

RB Leipzig head coach Julian Nagelsmann confirmed it was primarily a tactical decision to withdraw star forward Timo Werner a half-time during Wednesday's 2-1 comeback win over Zenit in the Champions League.

Yaroslav Rakitskiy's long-range effort gave visitors Zenit a 25th-minute lead at the Red Bull Arena that remained intact at the break midweek.

Nagelsmann opted to end a lacklustre showing from Germany international Werner, sending on Matheus Cunha in his place.

Cunha helped to spark a fine second-half showing, even if his finishing was no match for superb strikes from Konrad Laimer and Marcel Sabitzer – goals that moved the Bundesliga side to the top of Group G.

Former Everton winger Ademola Lookman also impressed after Nagelsmann opted to extend his maiden Champions League appearance at Werner's expense.

"I don't know if he still had a cold but I was just not so happy with how he was interpreting the position," the former Hoffenheim coach told a post-match news conference when discussing Werner's performance.

"We had a clear idea, as I said already, and I think that Ademola Lookman was a bit better in the game.

"It was obvious that the opponent will focus on defending after their lead, we needed more crosses then.

"It was the key for us during the half time to say we have to focus on the winger’s positions. So I needed a forward who is good with headers.

"As I was a bit happier with Mola, Timo had to stay inside."

Werner has been persistently linked with a move away from Leipzig, with Bayern Munich, Manchester United and Liverpool all reported to be among his potential suitors.

The 23-year-old has eight goals in 12 appearances this season and Nagelsmann insisted his midweek misery should not be given any wider significance.

"This is not a big drama, neither for Timo nor for the future," he added. "He played a lot of games and made a lot of goals. Today the others scored and we won."

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."

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.

Luis Suarez is bidding to end a miserable run in away Champions League matches as Barcelona travel to play Slavia Prague in one of eight games on Wednesday.

Barca earned an important win over Inter on matchday two but still have work to do to progress from a competitive Group F that also contains Borussia Dortmund, who face Antonio Conte's side this time around.

Chelsea travel to play Group H pace-setters Ajax in Amsterdam, having got their campaign back on track with a win against Lille last time out.

Liverpool trail Napoli in Group E but will be confident of defeating Genk after edging a thrilling contest against Salzburg 4-3 at Anfield three weeks ago.

Below, we have highlighted the key data ahead of Wednesday's contests.

RB Leipzig v Zenit

7 - RB Leipzig's last seven Champions League results have alternated between a win and a defeat. They lost their last match 2-0 at home to Lyon.

10 - Zenit are winless in their last 10 away European matches (including qualifiers), drawing three and losing seven since beating Real Sociedad 3-1 in a Europa League match back in December 2017.
 

Ajax v Chelsea

5 -  If he scores against Chelsea, Quincy Promes will become the fifth Dutchman in the history of the European Cup/Champions League to score in three consecutive appearances for Ajax. The others are Johan Cruyff (April 1969), Ruud Geels (November 1977), Ruud Krol (October 1979) and Patrick Kluivert (October 1995). 

8 - Since losing 3-0 at Barcelona in March 2018, Chelsea have lost none of their eight away European matches (W6 D2 L0), their longest ever unbeaten away run on the continent.
 

Salzburg v Napoli

0 -  This is the first Champions League encounter between an Austrian team and an Italian side since December 2005, when Juventus won 3-1 away at Rapid Vienna. A team from Austria have never beaten an Italian outfit in the Champions League (W0 D1 L7).

19 – Including qualifiers, Salzburg have not lost any of their last 19 home European matches (W15 D4 L0), winning the last six in a row.
 

Genk v Liverpool

14 - Should Genk fail to defeat Liverpool, they will set a record for games played in the European Cup/Champions League without winning. They have played 14 so far (W0 D8 L6), level with Floriana and Shamrock Rovers.

1 – Liverpool have won only one of their last 10 away Champions League group-stage matches (W1 D3 L6), losing each of the last four in a row.
 

Benfica v Lyon

10 - No French side has ever won an away European match against Benfica in 14 attempts (W0 D4 L10), with 10 different teams failing to win.

2 – Lyon are looking to win consecutive away Champions League matches in the same campaign for the first time since 2009, when they beat Debreceni and Liverpool.
 

Inter v Borussia Dortmund

6 - Inter are winless in six European matches against German opposition (W0 D1 L5) since a 3-2 win over Bayern Munich in the Champions League in March 2011.

2 – Dortmund have only conceded two goals in their last eight Champions League group stage matches, keeping clean sheets in seven of those matches.
 

Slavia Prague v Barcelona

4 – This is the first meeting between the two sides in Europe, though Barcelona have won all four of their previous Champions League meetings against Czech opponents.

19 – Suarez scored twice against Inter on MD2 in Barcelona's 2-1 victory, but the Uruguay striker is goalless in his last 19 away Champions League matches, attempting 59 shots without success since a goal against Roma in September 2015.
 

Lille v Valencia

6 - Lille are yet to defeat a Spanish team in the Champions League in six attempts (W0 D3 L3), facing Deportivo de La Coruna, Villarreal and Valencia previously without success.

11 – Valencia have failed to score in seven of their last 11 Champions League matches. Prior to that run, they had been unable to score in just seven of their previous 33 in the competition.

The future of Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is still up in the air amid speculation of a mid-season managerial change at Old Trafford.

Former Juventus manager Massimiliano Allegri has been previously linked with the Red Devils' job and reports suggest that he could bring two familiar faces with him in Emre Can and Mario Mandzukic if appointed.

A switch to the red side of Manchester could be on the cards for both players, having fallen out of favour at the Serie A champions this season under Maurizio Sarri.

 

TOP STORY – ALLEGRI TO SWOOP FOR JUVENTUS PAIR IF APPOINTED AT MANCHESTER UNITED

Allegri has been linked with a double raid on former club Juventus should he succeed Solskjaer at Manchester United, according to Tuttosport.

Can and Mandzukic have been on the fringe of the Serie A club's squad this season and would be trusted to make an impact in Manchester, given their lack of depth in midfield and up front.

Juventus could collect up to 60 million euros if their former boss is thrust into the hot seat at Old Trafford, and they dispose of the pair in January.

 

ROUND-UP

Manchester United are also interested in Leicester's James Maddison and Lyon's Moussa Dembele, according to ESPN.

- According to Il Giornale, Inter are looking at Zenit St Petersburg striker Artem Dzyuba as they aim to reinforce their front line, following a serious injury to Alexis Sanchez.

- CalcioMercato are reporting AC Milan are considering a move for Atletico Madrid forward Angel Correa in January.

- The Daily Mail say Liverpool and Chelsea are monitoring Bournemouth and England midfielder Lewis Cook.

- Bayern Munich have no intention of selling Javi Martinez in the upcoming transfer window, according to TZ, despite previous links with former club Athletic Bilbao. 

- Turkish news outlet Star claim Fenerbahce and Turkey midfield Ozan Tufan is a January target for Crystal Palace.

Malcom said he is dealing with a "very delicate and sensitive injury" as the Zenit star addressed his prolonged absence from the Russian giants.

A €45million signing from Barcelona, Malcom has only featured twice since swapping the LaLiga champions for Zenit.

Brazilian forward Malcom has not played since Zenit's 2-0 win over Dinamo Moscow in the Russian Premier League on August 10.

"I have a very delicate and sensitive injury," the 22-year-old said in quotes attributed to the club.

"It seems that it hurts one day or two and then I don't feel pain, but when I shoot with a little more strength it hurts me again.

"The fans of the club shouldn't worry, [as] my recovery will be very fast and I will play again as soon as possible to give them joy.

"When I return, I will do my best as always. I want to play in the Champions League with Zenit."

While Malcom is dealing with an injury, Zenit are fighting for championship honours in Russia and competing in the Champions League.

Defending champions Zenit have only lost two of their opening 11 games to be fifth and two points adrift of leaders CSKA Moscow.

Zenit also beat Benfica 3-1 on Wednesday to be top of Group G in the Champions League after two matchdays.

 

Page 1 of 3
© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.