Cristiano Ronaldo will get more goals after netting on his return to Manchester United's line-up says Erik ten Hag, who explained Antony's early substitution in the 3-0 Europa League win over Sheriff was planned.

Ronaldo was dropped for the draw at Chelsea last time out following his refusal to appear as a substitute during the previous game against Tottenham, but rounded off a routine 3-0 victory that secured the Red Devils' top-two place in Group E.

It marked the Portuguese superstar's first goal of the season at Old Trafford and Ten Hag, who saw Diego Dalot and Marcus Rashford also score, is sure there is more to come.

"Seeing Ronaldo get his goal was great," Ten Hag said during his post-match interview with BT Sport. "He created, the team created for him, and we know he has the capability to finish. He needed a goal and now I'm confident there will be more goals.

"[The team's performance] was okay. Of course, you hope you score in the first half hour, so it took a bit long, but we deserved that goal.

"The second half, we scored two more good goals from open play and I'm pleased with the clean sheet because we gave nothing away. It was a focused win."

The United head coach also defended his decision to substitute Antony at half-time. With the game still goalless, the Brazil international came under scrutiny for showboating as he performed a double spin before sending his subsequent pass out of play.

When asked if the former Ajax winger was replaced for that incident, Ten Hag replied: "No. It was more or less planned if we were up.

"I wanted to see Marcus and Cristiano close together, and the dynamic on the right side."

United must now beat Group E leaders Real Sociedad by two goals next week to advance to the last 16, while avoiding a potentially tricky play-off knockout-round clash with a team dropping from the Champions League.

Rashford, who scored his 99th goal for the club on Thursday, insists the Red Devils are relishing the task ahead.

Assessing the Sheriff victory, the England forward said: "Not getting the first goal quickly leads to a mix between frustration and calmness, you have to be calm to create chances and be clinical in taking them.

"Scoring before half-time was a big help, it allowed us to look for more goals and space, and we found them. It was about getting the job done.

"We have to go [to Real Sociedad] and score by two goals. We have to score goals, but defend well. It is going to be a tough game, but looking forward to the challenge."

Cristiano Ronaldo marked his return with a goal as Manchester United kept their Europa League last-16 hopes alive with a routine 3-0 win over Sheriff Tiraspol.

Portugal star Ronaldo returned to the starting line-up at Old Trafford after being dropped for the draw at Chelsea following his refusal to appear as a late substitute against Tottenham.

A pair of headers from Diego Dalot and Marcus Rashford put United in control before Ronaldo wrapped up the points nine minutes from time and secured a top-two finish in Group E.

Erik ten Hag's side must now beat leaders Real Sociedad by two goals next week to usurp the LaLiga outfit at the group summit and avoid a trickier clash in the play-off knockout round.

United dominated the first half with over three-quarters of the possession while registering 13 shots on goal without reply.

Antony and Tyrell Malacia drew smart saves out of Maksym Koval, who also demonstrated brilliant reflexes to deny Ronaldo a tap-in from Bruno Fernandes' knockdown.

The hosts were almost punished as Rasheed Ibrahim was whiskers away from connecting with Patrick Kpozo's deep cross but they finally broke through in the dying moments of the opening period as Dalot powered home Christian Eriksen's inviting corner.

Ronaldo went close to doubling the lead when he fired narrowly over in the 58th minute before his close-range volley was disallowed for offside.

United did establish breathing space seven minutes later as a patient build-up culminated in Rashford brilliantly heading home Luke Shaw's centre to end a five-match scoreless streak.

Ronaldo was not to be denied and put the icing on the cake with nine minutes remaining, firing home at the second attempt after Koval had parried his initial header from Fernandes' cross.

Cristiano Ronaldo has been named in the starting line-up by Erik ten Hag for Manchester United's Europa League clash with Sheriff at Old Trafford.

It is the first time Ronaldo has featured for United since he walked down the tunnel during his team's 2-0 win over Tottenham in the Premier League.

The five-time Ballon d'Or winner was dropped for Sunday's 1-1 draw at Chelsea after refusing to come on as a substitute and leaving the bench early against Spurs in the previous game.

United manager Ten Hag insisted the decision was to stick to principles and build a positive environment at the club, with the Portugal international only allowed to return to first-team training on Tuesday.

Ronaldo was back from the start for Thursday's game, looking to add to his two goals in all competitions this season.

Ten Hag also handed talented teenager Alejandro Garnacho his first United start in the Group E fixture, while Harry Maguire and Donny van de Beek returned to the bench after recovering from injuries.

The Dutch coach made four changes to the team that drew at Chelsea, with Tyrell Malacia, Victor Lindelof, Garnacho and Ronaldo coming in for Luke Shaw, Raphael Varane, Jadon Sancho and Marcus Rashford.

Cristiano Ronaldo vowed to return to Manchester United with the "same commitment and dedication as always" as the forward looks to play his way back into favour at Old Trafford.

The five-time Ballon d'Or winner was dropped for Sunday's 1-1 draw at Chelsea after refusing to come on as a substitute and leaving the bench early in last Wednesday's win over Tottenham.

United manager Erik ten Hag insisted the decision was to stick to principles and build a positive environment at the club, with the Portugal international only allowed to return to first-team training on Tuesday.

Ronaldo is expected to feature in Thursday's Europa League clash at home to Sheriff and made a promise to the fans as he looks to work his way back into Ten Hag's reckoning.

"Back on track, with the same commitment and dedication as always!," the forward posted on Instagram on Wednesday.

United will seal a place in Europa League knockout stages against Sheriff if they win, draw or avoid defeat by more than one goal.

The Red Devils will be without the injured Raphael Varane, though, while Ten Hag will make late decisions on the fitness of Harry Maguire, Donny van de Beek and Aaron Wan-Bissaka.

Erik ten Hag is backing Harry Maguire to play an important role for Manchester United after fellow defender Raphael Varane suffered an injury blow.

Maguire has only made two Premier League starts since Ten Hag took charge of United – both of which came in the humiliating back-to-back defeats to Brighton and Hove Albion and Brentford in August. 

However, Maguire could be set for a recall after Varane was ruled out until the World Cup next month, having suffered a leg injury in Saturday's dramatic 1-1 draw at Chelsea. 

Speaking ahead of Thursday's Europa League meeting with Sheriff, Ten Hag said Maguire had the ideal qualities to help the Red Devils.

"He always has an important role to play. He was injured and is happy he is back, and now he has to get back into games," Ten Hag said.

"I understand the interest, but we look at United. We have to get the right results.

"It's always about performance, about presentation. Regarding his qualities, there's no problem. He is a great player and has great capabilities to do a job for us."

Varane's injury has put him at risk of missing France's World Cup defence, with Didier Deschamps' Bleus set to begin their Group D campaign against Australia on November 22.

However, Ten Hag does not believe it is club coaches' responsibility to rest players during a packed pre-tournament schedule, adding: "I think it is the wrong idea. 

"They only have [a few] weeks and then the World Cup starts. You have to keep the right fitness, the right shape. 

"It is not optimum, but that is something the national managers have to deal with."

Cristiano Ronaldo is back in Manchester United's squad for Thursday's Europa League tie with Sheriff, but manager Erik ten Hag has confirmed Raphael Varane will not play again before the World Cup.

Portugal international Ronaldo was dropped by United for Saturday's 1-1 draw with Chelsea after refusing to come on as a substitute and heading for the tunnel early in last week's 2-0 win over Tottenham.

The 37-year-old was also briefly excluded from first-team involvement, but he returned to training on Tuesday and will now be considered for selection against Sheriff at Old Trafford.

However, United will be without centre-back Varane until after the World Cup break, though Ten Hag did not reveal whether the France international will be fit in time for his country's Qatar 2022 campaign.

"Cristiano will be in the squad tomorrow. Rapha Varane isn't. He will be out until the World Cup," Ten Hag said at Wednesday's pre-match news conference.

Varane left the field in tears after sustaining a leg injury in the dramatic draw with Chelsea, with the defender now in a race against time to be fit for the World Cup, which begins on November 22 for France with a game against Australia.

Further pressed on a timeline for Varane's return to action, Ten Hag told reporters: "We will have to see how he develops, how his rehab will develop."

United will book a place in the knockout stage of the Europa League against Sheriff if they win, draw or avoid defeat by more than one goal.

Ten Hag also confirmed he will make a late decision on whether to field Harry Maguire, Donny van de Beek and Aaron Wan-Bissaka, all of whom returned to training this week.

Erik ten Hag is confident Cristiano Ronaldo will score more goals after the forward opened his account for the season to help Manchester United shoot down Sheriff in the Europa League.

Ronaldo had not started any of United's previous four Premier League matches and failed to impress in a home defeat to Real Sociedad last time out.

However, having started Thursday's game, Ronaldo was on target from the penalty spot as United got three points on the board in Group E.

It was the 699th club goal of Ronaldo's career, albeit his first in the Europa League, with Sheriff the 124th different side the 37-year-old has scored against, and Ten Hag is expecting plenty more to follow this season.

"He needed that goal," Ten Hag told United's club media. "He was close many times, but you always see he wanted that so much. We're happy for him, and the team wanted him to bring that goal. 

"We could expect this when you miss pre-season, he has to work really hard and invest to get the right fitness. He will score more goals. He's really close; when he gets more fitness, he will score more."

The United boss was also impressed by the performance of Jadon Sancho, who opened the scoring after 17 minutes when he turned on Christian Eriksen's pass and tucked a neat finish into the bottom-right corner.

Sancho, who was left out of Gareth Southgate's England squad earlier in the day, has now scored three goals in his last six appearances for United, as many as in his previous 24 games combined.

"I'm really pleased with [Sancho]," Ten Hag said. "[He scored] another goal, and he also scored many goals in pre-season.

"He's doing well, but I think there's much room for improvement for him because he has so many skills. So, bring it on the pitch and when he has that belief, I think he can be even more productive."

Meanwhile, Sancho underlined his determination to earn an England recall for the World Cup in Qatar later this year.

"It was really important that we got the win today," the winger told reporters. "Our last home against Real Sociedad was an upset and coming into this game, we knew we had to get the three points.

"Obviously, it is disappointing not to get the call-up, but I have to keep working hard and hopefully, I do get the call-up for the World Cup. I just have to focus on myself and carry on working hard."

United have won five of their last six games in all competitions, as many victories as they had registered in their previous 21 matches combined.

Cristiano Ronaldo scored his first goal of the season as Manchester United got their Europa League campaign up and running with a 2-0 win at Sheriff on Thursday.

Ronaldo, selected to lead the line as Erik ten Hag kept rotation to a minimum against the side that stunned Real Madrid in last season's Champions League, drilled home a first-half penalty to make it 2-0 to United, after Jadon Sancho had opened the scoring.

Having moved onto 699 club goals with his spot-kick, Ronaldo missed a chance to reach the 700 milestone after the break, but United produced a controlled performance to see out the victory.

United were in need of three points following last week's home defeat to Real Sociedad in their opening Group E game.

Although Sheriff started well, United took the lead with their first real attack 17 minutes in when Sancho turned on Christian Eriksen's pass and tucked a neat finish into the bottom-right corner.

Iyayi Atiemwen dragged wide of the bottom-left corner with David de Gea unsighted, before Stjepan Radeljic denied Sancho a second with a heroic goal-line clearance.

United were soon gifted an opportunity to double their lead by Patrick Kpozo, who was tempted into a foul by Diogo Dalot.

Ronaldo, who has had to settle for a substitute role in United's last four Premier League matches, lashed his penalty straight down the middle.

Radeljic was again on hand to clear as Ronaldo attacked the back post after the break, before Rasheed Akanbi almost caught De Gea out with a sumptuous lob from long range.

Ronaldo side-footed wide of the top-right corner from 18 yards out as a chance for his 700th club goal went begging, though United had little trouble in sealing a fifth win in their last six outings.

Erik ten Hag has backed Marcus Rashford to earn an England recall after confirming the injury that has ruled the forward out of Thursday's game with Sheriff is not serious.

Rashford is not part of Manchester United's squad for the Europa League tie in Moldova, with Anthony Martial, Donny van de Beek and Aaron Wan-Bissaka also absent.

The 24-year-old has impressed this campaign with three goals and two assists in six matches, compared to five and two respectively in 32 outings in all competitions last season.

That upturn in form was expected to lead to a call-up to the England squad for the first time since Euro 2020 when Gareth Southgate names his squad on Thursday.

Rashford's hopes of a recall appeared to be damaged by a minor injury sustained against Arsenal, but Ten Hag does not expect him the miss any serious length of time.

"He has a muscle injury. I can't tell how long he'll be out, but I don't think it will be too long," Ten Hag said at a pre-match press conference on Wednesday ahead of facing Sheriff.

"It's not really bad and we expect him back quite soon."

Asked if Rashford has done enough to earn a place in the England squad for Nations League games against Italy and Germany, Ten Hag said: "It's quite clear, yes.

"He has shown his great potential and quality this season."

United have otherwise named a strong squad for the Group E tie as they aim to respond to last week's 1-0 loss at home to Real Sociedad in their opening match.

It will be United's first competitive meeting with Moldovan champions Sheriff, who are unbeaten in eight matches and beat Omonia Nicosia 3-0 last week.

Ten Hag, who has lost only two of his 20 away matches in major European competitions as a manager, is eager to get back on track after last week's setback against Sociedad.

"There is pressure on in every game – we have to win every game we play," the Dutchman said. "When you lose the first game, you have to win the second.

"We know what our task is. We always play a strong side and tomorrow that will also be the case.

"Sheriff have shown they are capable by beating Real Madrid and Shakhtar Donetsk in the past. They are a serious opponent and we have to be at our best for the win."

With Rashford and Martial not available, Cristiano Ronaldo is set to start for only the third time this season in all competitions.

However, asked to confirm if that will be the case, Ten Hag said: "I'm sorry, but the Moldova fans have to wait until tomorrow."

Manchester United have confirmed next Thursday's Europa League group meeting with Sheriff will go ahead as planned.

United's Premier League clash with Crystal Palace on Saturday has been postponed, as have all Premier League games this weekend, following the passing of Queen Elizabeth II at the age of 96.

However, United will travel to Moldova as planned next week for their European tie with Sheriff at Bolshaya Sportivnaya Arena.

A statement on United's official website on Friday read: "Following discussions with the relevant governing bodies and in line with guidance issued by the UK Government, we can confirm our UEFA Europa League fixture against FC Sheriff will take place as scheduled on Thursday evening in Moldova.

"Match arrangements will remain the same for fans who are travelling to support the team in Chisinau. "

United lost 1-0 to Real Sociedad in their Group E opener on Thursday, with the game going ahead despite the Queen's death being announced a few hours beforehand.

The Red Devils paid their respects to Her Majesty in a statement released ahead of the game, in which they held a minute's silence ahead of kick-off and wore black armbands.

"Manchester United shares the sorrow of the entire nation following the announcement from Buckingham Palace on the passing of Her Majesty, The Queen," United's statement read.

"The club recognises her immense contribution to public life, including sport, both here in the United Kingdom, across the Commonwealth, and around the world.

"Everyone connected with Manchester United joins the wider football family in sending our deepest condolences and heartfelt sympathy to The Royal Family."

Erik ten Hag's first experience of European football as manager of Manchester United will see the Red Devils face off with the likes of Real Sociedad and Sheriff Tiraspol in the Europa League group stage.

Ten Hag enjoyed a successful spell as Ajax boss before making the move to Old Trafford, perhaps best exemplified in the 2018-19 campaign where he led the Dutch side to their first Champions League semi-final since 1997.

They should have gone on to the final that year too, but let a 3-0 aggregate lead slip at home to Tottenham as a 96th minute Lucas Moura goal to complete his second-half hat-trick won the tie for the Londoners on away goals, breaking Ajax hearts.

Ten Hag will therefore be desperate for a good showing in Europe this season to dispel those demons, though United have not been without their own continental misery in recent years, losing on penalties in the 2020-21 Europa League final against Villarreal.

To advance to the knockout stages of this season's edition of Europe's second competition, United will first have to overcome a group that looks anything but easy. 

Sheriff beat eventual winners Real Madrid at the Bernabeu in last season's Champions League before ultimately being knocked out, while Sociedad made the knockout stages of this competition.

United will therefore have to ensure they pick up maximum points against the other team in the group, Cypriot side Omonoia.

Arsenal are another of the favourites for this season's tournament, having reached at least the semi-finals in three of their last four Europa League campaigns.

Their trickiest group-stage game looks to be against PSV, who won this competition in 1977-78, though the Gunners will fancy their chances of advancing with Bodo/Glimt and Zurich the other two sides in Group A.

Manager Mikel Arteta's side sit top of the Premier League having won their opening three matches, and the Spaniard will hope that his players can keep up their impressive domestic start while also advancing deep into the Europa League.

Milan host Liverpool knowing they need a win to keep their Champions League hopes alive in one of the headline fixtures on Tuesday.

Real Madrid and Inter meet in a battle for top spot in Group D, with both already qualified as the Italian side travel to Spain with a woeful recent record.

Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain are already through in Group A as well, with Lionel Messi aiming to follow in the footsteps of George Weah and Neymar at home to Club Brugge.

Stats Perform takes a look at the key Opta data behind the next set of matches.

Milan v Liverpool: Reds eye English record

Milan are searching for their first win against an English side in Europe since February 2012, while the Rossoneri have recorded victory in just one of their past nine home games in the Champions League group stage.

In contrast, Liverpool have triumphed in all five of their opening games this season as they look to become the first English side to win all six of their group-stage matches in a single campaign.

The Reds are also aiming to record victories in six consecutive games in the European Cup/Champions League for the first time in their history, with Alisson on the hunt for three consecutive clean sheets in the continental competition for his first time.

Paris Saint-Germain v Club Brugge: Mbappe and Messi await leaky defence

Club Brugge were defeated by five goals in their last clash against RB Leipzig, the third consecutive group game in which they conceded at least four times.

No team has ever gone four straight games letting in at least four, but the Belgians will have to negotiate with Messi, who could become just the third player – after Weah in 1994 and Neymar in 2017 – to score in his first three consecutive home games for PSG in the competition.

The visitors will also have to contend with Kylian Mbappe, the France international managing five goal involvements in three matches against Brugge – his joint-most against a single opponent in the competition, along with Red Star and Istanbul Basaksehir.

RB Leipzig v Manchester City: Guardiola's men out to defend German record

City are unbeaten in their previous 14 games against German opposition, including a six-game undefeated streak on the road, in a run that stretches back to November 2014 in the Champions League.

The reigning Premier League champions have won their past nine such fixtures, scoring 28 goals and conceding just nine in return, while Leipzig are winless in their most recent three meetings with English sides.

If Leipzig fail to defeat Pep Guardiola's side, it will be the first time they have not registered a single home win during the group stages in Europe.

Real Madrid v Inter: Los Blancos looking for goalscoring milestone 

Inter have claimed just one win in their past 11 meetings with Spanish opposition in European competition and their last away win against such sides came all the way back in October 2004.

The Serie A outfit have not beaten Madrid in Europe since March 1967 as Carlo Ancelotti's side look to score their 1,000th goal in the European Cup/Champions League in just their 455th game.

Karim Benzema could be central to Madrid hitting that milestone if he is passed fit, the forward already with five group-stage goals to his name this term as he sits two behind Raul in the club charts in the competition (66).

 

Other fixtures:

Ajax v Sporting CP:

16 - Ajax have scored 16 goals in their five games in the Champions League this season, with only Bayern Munich (19) and Manchester City (17) finding the net more.

15 - The previous three meetings between Ajax and Sporting have seen a total of 15 goals scored, at an average of five goals per game. Indeed, neither side has managed to keep a clean sheet in any of their three clashes to date.

Borussia Dortmund v Besiktas:

60 - Jude Bellingham has had a direct hand in 60 per cent of Borussia Dortmund’s Champions League goals this season (one scored, two assisted), with the last Englishman to enjoy more than three goal involvements during the group stages of a season before the age of 19 being Jack Wilshere in 2010-11 for Arsenal (one scored, three assisted).

5 - Besiktas remain the only Champions League side in 2021-22 to lose all five of their matches and are looking to avoid being the first team since AEK Athens in 2018-19 to lose each of their six group games.

Porto v Atletico Madrid:

5 - Porto will be aiming to qualify for the knockout stages of the Champions League for a fifth time in their past five tournament appearances (2016-17, 2017-18, 2018-19 and 2020-21). The last time they failed to do so was in 2015-16 under Julen Lopetegui.

786 - Luis Suarez's only goal in 11 appearances for Atletico Madrid in the Champions League was a penalty against Milan in September, giving him a minutes-per-goal ratio of 786. At previous club Barcelona, the Uruguay striker scored 25 goals in 55 appearances, with a minutes-per-goal ratio of 192.

Shakhtar Donetsk v Sheriff: 

1 - Shakhtar Donetsk have only won one of their past 11 home games in the Champions League (D5 L5), while they have failed to score in seven of the games in this run, including both in 2021-22 (D1 L1).

25 – Sheriff's 2-0 victory over Shakhtar in this season's tournament came despite the Moldovan side having just 25 per cent possession – since 2003-04, only Atletico (23) versus Barcelona in April 2016 have won a Champions League game by multiple goals with a lower possession percentage.

Carlo Ancelotti was full of praise for midfielder Toni Kroos after his influential display in Real Madrid's 3-0 Champions League win over Sheriff on Wednesday.

Kroos doubled Los Blancos' advantage before the interval after David Alaba had opened the scoring, while Karim Benzema added a third in the second half.

The routine win helped the LaLiga giants progress to the last 16 of the competition for the 19th season a row – the only team to do so since the round was introduced in the 2003-04 season.

Kroos has now been involved in four goals in his last three games in all competitions for Madrid (two goals, two assists) – as many as he had in his previous 13 games – and Ancelotti was delighted with his contribution.

"If Kroos is well the coach is calmer," the Italian told a media conference. "He handles the ball like nobody else. 

"That combination with Casemiro and Modric is spectacular. He is also scoring goals and he is doing very well."

The match was played on the same day Benzema was handed a one-year suspended prison sentence and fined €75,000 after being found guilty of complicity in the attempted blackmail of Mathieu Valbuena.

The France striker was one of five people standing trial over the attempt to extort former international team-mate Valbuena in a case dating back to June 2015.

It did not seem to distract the 33-year-old, who was in typically clinical form, with Ancelotti insistent the forward is focused only on what happens on the pitch.

"It is calm, it has been a topic for a long time," he added. "He is focused on Madrid and I see that he is well."

Alaba's deflected free-kick ended a run of 50 Champions League games without a goal for the Austrian since he scored for Bayern Munich against Arsenal in November 2015.

He was replaced in the 64th minute by Nacho after suffering an injury, yet Ancelotti is hopeful he will be fit for Sunday's LaLiga clash with Sevilla.

"It's a little knee sprain," he said. "It doesn't seem worrisome because he doesn't have much pain. We hope he plays on Sunday."

Madrid need just a point against Inter in a fortnight to ensure they progress to the knockout stages as Group D winners.

Karim Benzema scored on the same day he was handed a one-year suspended prison sentence as Real Madrid swept aside Sheriff 3-0 to book their place in the last 16 of the Champions League.

France forward Benzema was also fined €75,000 after being found guilty of complicity in the attempted blackmail of former international team-mate Mathieu Valbuena.

It did not prove to be a distraction for Carlo Ancelotti's men, however, as they brushed aside their less illustrious opponents with the minimum of fuss – at odds with their shock home defeat in the reverse fixture.

David Alaba and Toni Kroos put Madrid two goals ahead at the break, and Benzema added a third before the hour mark to seal his side's place in the knockout stages with a game to spare in Group D.

Benzema saw an early goal ruled out for offside after Georgios Athanasiadis had parried Kroos' shot, and the Sheriff goalkeeper got down well to Rodrygo's strike before the midway point of the first half.

Madrid's dominance was rewarded in the 30th minute, though, when Alaba's free-kick from 20 yards was deflected past Athanasiadis for the Austria international's first Champions League goal for the club.

Kroos then doubled Madrid's advantage in first-half stoppage time, stroking in a sublime effort from 20 yards via the underside of the crossbar.

Benzema scored his fifth goal of this season's competition in the 55th minute with a cool strike into Athanasiadis' bottom-right corner from just outside the penalty area.

Sebastien Thill's cross crashed back off Thibaut Courtois' post as Sheriff rallied in the closing stages, yet Madrid held firm to ensure there was no blot on their copybook this time.

 

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola will be looking to seal top spot in Group A of the Champions League on Wednesday with a win against Paris Saint-Germain at the Etihad Stadium, having lost the reverse fixture 2-0 in the French capital in September.

Carlo Ancelotti and Real Madrid will also be seeking revenge as they visit Sheriff after the Moldovan outfit famously won 2-1 at the Santiago Bernabeu on matchday two.

After losing their first league game of the season at the weekend, Milan must find the first win of their European campaign if they are to keep their hopes of qualification alive when they travel to Atletico Madrid.

Stats Perform picks out the key Opta facts ahead of Wednesday's Champions League action.

 

Manchester City v Paris Saint-Germain: Messi aims to smite Guardiola again

Despite failing to find the net in Paris, only Bayern Munich (17) have scored more goals than Manchester City (15) in the Champions League this season. The Citizens are averaging 3.4 expected goals per game in the competition this term; since the start of 2013-14, this is the highest per-game average by a team in the group stage in a single Champions League campaign. 

PSG are winless in their past three away games in the Champions League (D2 L1), and could go without an away victory in the group stage of the competition in a single season for the first time since 2004-05. 

Lionel Messi, who fired home a brilliant second in the reverse game, has scored seven goals in seven Champions League appearances against City, the second-most by a player against an English club in the competition after his own haul of nine goals in six appearances against Arsenal.

7 - Lionel Messi has scored more UEFA Champions League goals against Man City (7) than any other player, while his seven goals against sides managed by Pep Guardiola (two vs Bayern Munich, five against Man City with him as manager) are also the most of any player. Haunting. pic.twitter.com/wPAYIZTx2R

— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) September 28, 2021

 

Sheriff v Real Madrid: Can Benzema keep up his form?

Real Madrid have won both of their away games in the Champions League this season without conceding a goal (1-0 v Inter and 5-0 v Shakhtar Donetsk), while they last managed this in three consecutive away games in the competition between October 2014 and February 2015, during Carlo Ancelotti’s first spell in charge of the club.

After their famous win in Spain this season, Sheriff could become just the fourth team to win their first two meetings with Madrid in European competition, after Liverpool (1981, 2009), Galatasaray (2000, 2001) and Benfica (1962, 1965).

One rather big obstacle to stop that from happening is Karim Benzema, who has scored in each of his previous three Champions League appearances (four goals), and will be looking to do so in four in succession for the first time since 2016-17. His brace against Shakhtar last time out took him to 100 direct goal involvements in the Champions League (75 goals and 25 assists). 

 

Atletico Madrid v Milan: Must-win for the Rossoneri

Stefano Pioli's side need a win to keep their slim hopes of qualification for the knockout stages alive, having amassed just one point from their four games, but the numbers do not bode well for the Rossoneri. Atletico Madrid have a 100 per cent record against Milan in European competition, winning all three of their meetings, which have all been in the Champions League – 1-0 away and 4-1 at home in 2013-14, and 2-1 away from home this season. 

Joao Felix has been directly involved in four of Atletico's previous five goals at the Wanda Metropolitano in the Champions League, scoring three times himself and providing an assist for Antoine Griezmann against Liverpool in October.

Milan have only won one of their past 16 games against Spanish opponents in the Champions League (D6 L9), beating Barcelona 2-0 at home in the round of 16 in 2012-13. Indeed, they are winless in their previous six such games (D1 L5), suffering defeats in each of the most recent four. 

 

Liverpool v Porto: Salah still a threat despite no jeopardy for Reds

Liverpool may have already sewn up top spot in Group B, but they will want to keep up their impressive record against Porto. The Reds are unbeaten in their nine meetings in European competition (W6 D3), with five of those games coming during Jurgen Klopp's reign (W4 D1). 

Since the start of 2017-18 – Mohamed Salah's first season as a Liverpool player – the Egypt star has scored 30 goals in 47 Champions League appearances. Only four of these have been penalties, with Robert Lewandowski (33) being the only player to have netted more non-penalty goals in the competition than Salah (26) during this period.

Porto defender Pepe could make his 100th career start in the Champions League in this game. In doing so, he would become just the second Portuguese player in the history of the competition to start a century of games, after Cristiano Ronaldo.


Other fixtures:

Besiktas v Ajax

5 – Besiktas have lost all five of their meetings with Ajax across all European competitions – only against Dynamo Kyiv (six) have they suffered more defeats.

4 – Ajax are one of only four teams with a 100 per cent record through the opening four matchdays of the 2021-22 Champions League. The Amsterdam side will be looking to become only the second Dutch team to win their opening five games of a European Cup/Champions League campaign, after Feyenoord in 1971-72.

Inter v Shakhtar Donetsk

0 – The previous three meetings between Inter and Shakhtar Donetsk in the Champions League have finished goalless, with all three coming since the start of last season. There have been 66 shots recorded in these previous three games (43 by Inter and 23 by Shakhtar), without a goal being scored.

2 – Shakhtar Donetsk have only lost two of their past six away games against Italian sides in the Champions League (W2 D2), going unbeaten in the most recent two – 2-1 versus Atalanta in October 2019 and 0-0 v Inter in December 2020.

Club Brugge v Leipzig

1 – Club Brugge have only won one of their past 15 home games in the Champions League (D6 L8), with that lone victory coming against Zenit in December 2020 (3-0). This was the only game in this run in which the Belgian side managed to score more than one goal, netting just 10 across the 15 games in total.

0 – RB Leipzig are winless in their past six Champions League games, suffering five defeats in this run (D1). The Bundesliga outfit have also conceded more goals in the competition in 2021 than any other team, shipping 17 in six games this calendar year.

Sporting CP v Borussia Dortmund

– Only Salah (3.01), Lewandowski (4.77) and Sebastien Haller (5.51) have accumulated a higher xG tally (excluding penalties) in this season's Champions League than Sporting's Paulinho (2.96), who has scored with three of his six shots on target to date.

– Without Erling Haaland, who is already ruled out of this contest through injury, Dortmund have managed just five goals in four Champions League matches (1.25 on average), compared to 20 in 12 with him in the side (1.7) since his debut for the club in February 2020.

Page 1 of 2
© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.