Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel has demanded more from his players after seeing his team lose top spot in Champions League Group H following a 3-3 draw against Zenit in Russia.

The Blues had come from 2-1 down at the break to lead 3-2 going into stoppage time, only for a fine Magomed Ozdoev strike to deny them victory, meaning that Juventus leapfrogged them into top spot after they beat Malmo 1-0 in Turin.

Two goals from Timo Werner and Romelu Lukaku's first since returning from injury looked to be enough for Chelsea before Ozdoev equalised in the 94th minute in the Gazprom Arena.

Tuchel's side were forced to settle for second place in Group H, and the German was particularly annoyed to concede three goals in a game for the second time in a week, having seen Chelsea lose 3-2 at West Ham on Saturday, which also cost them top spot in the Premier League.

"If you are coach of Chelsea and you concede six goals in two matches, four times we've given the lead away, my ambition to talk about individual performances is not so high," he told reporters after the game. "We can't be happy today or against West Ham.

"It is like that now not to talk about individual performances. Nobody can be happy.

Chelsea started brightly, taking the lead in just the second minute through Werner, but were put under plenty of Zenit pressure for most of the first half, with the hosts scoring twice from nine shots they were allowed in the opening 45 minutes, before a back and forth second half.

"I think we had a very good first 15 minutes but we stopped doing the things we did," Tuchel added. "I had the feeling, and this is my opinion, that we forgot why we were the better team. And once this drops, once we start managing results, we get punished.

"It happened against West Ham and today. The reaction is good because it shows that it's not about what we can do. When we concede goals we can show a reaction but once we have the lead, we give it away again.

"We start playing balls back, not attacking with the same aggression and hunger than before. We got punished twice and it is for me the level of investment we have to do right no matter what is on the scoresheet."

When asked whether a deeper look was required having seen his team give up leads against both West Ham and Zenit, Tuchel said: "My analysis is very clear: our behaviour changes when we have a lead and this is something we've never done and should never do.

"The challenge is to close the door and minimise the possibility. We need a higher level of sprints, runs, concentration levels. The basics need to be pushed while we are in the lead. They can't drop when we are in the lead. It's not the big picture."

Chelsea were forced to settle for second place in Group H after an injury-time equaliser from Magomed Ozdoev clinched a 3-3 draw for Zenit in the Champions League.

Two goals from Timo Werner and another from Romelu Lukaku were not enough to secure the victory for the Blues, with Claudinho, Sardar Azmoun and Ozdoev all scoring for Zenit in Russia, and the Blues will now not be seeded in Monday's draw for the last 16 after finishing below Juventus, who beat Malmo in Turin.

The momentum of the game swung back and forth several times, with Chelsea's Kepa Arrizabalaga kept particularly busy.

Blues boss Thomas Tuchel was missing a number of midfielders, including Jorginho, N'Golo Kante and Mateo Kovacic, and started Ross Barkley and Reece James in the middle, with Atletico Madrid loanee Saul Niguez being utilised at left wing back.

Chelsea took the lead in just the second minute when a Barkley corner was flicked on at the near post by Andreas Christensen, allowing Werner a simple tap-in.

Zenit should have been level on 26 minutes when Malcom was played in on goal, but the former Barcelona winger was denied by Kepa.

The equaliser did arrive 12 minutes later when Douglas Santos played a ball into the box that was glanced in by the head of Claudinho.

The hosts then took the lead before half-time when Barkley was dispossessed in midfield, with Malcom sliding Azmoun in behind a chaotic Chelsea defence. The Iran international took the ball round Kepa before slotting home, with the Blues goalkeeper forced to make another save from Azmoun just moments later.

Chelsea improved in the second half and were level just after the hour as Werner and Barkley played a one-two on the edge of the box, with the German giving Lukaku an easy tap in to make it 2-2.

Azmoun was denied another as Kepa made a fine save down to his left following a header from the striker, before Werner finished off a nice move five minutes from time, narrowly remaining onside.

However, the visitors failed to hold on as a tremendous strike from substitute Ozdoev deep into stoppage time levelled it up to ensure the spoils were shared.

This week sees the end of the group stages for this season's Champions League with honour, ambition and, yes, prize money on the line.

Two Spanish giants are being made to sweat on matchday six as Atletico Madrid need a win and a favour to stay in the competition, while Barcelona quite probably need to beat Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena to avoid dropping into the Europa League.

Atalanta and Villarreal will battle it out for second place in Group F, while Real Madrid and Inter face off at the Santiago Bernabeu to determine who will win Group D.

Group G will perhaps be the most dramatic, with all four participants in with a chance of finishing first or second, but what exactly does each team need from their final group game? Stats Perform has the answers for you here...

 

Group A

Manchester City have already secured top spot after beating Paris Saint-Germain 2-1 on matchday five, with the French side definitely finishing second, sitting four points behind City and four points ahead of both RB Leipzig and Club Brugge.

Leipzig, who sacked coach Jesse Marsch over the weekend, host City and need to match or better Club Brugge's result to clinch third place and a Europe League spot.

The Belgians must get something from their trip to Paris and hope that they achieve a better result than Leipzig.

 

Group B

Liverpool have had first place sewn up since they beat Atletico Madrid at Anfield on matchday four and now sit 10 points ahead of second place in what had been labelled a 'group of death' when the draw took place.

It's all to play for otherwise, though, with Porto second. A win for them at home to Atletico will confirm their passage to the knockout stage. A draw will also be fine as long as Milan do not beat Liverpool at San Siro.

Milan need to win against the Reds and hope the other game is a draw, while the Spanish champions have to beat Porto and hope that the Italians fail to beat Liverpool.

 

Group C

The most straightforward group of all as every position has already been confirmed, with Ajax top, Sporting CP joining them in the knockout stage as runners-up, while Borussia Dortmund will go into the Europa League and Besiktas are out.

 

Group D

Real Madrid and Inter have both qualified, with Carlo Ancelotti's men only needing to avoid defeat to the Italians at the Santiago Bernabeu to top the group. Inter need to beat Madrid to overtake them.

Sheriff will go into the Europa League having already been confirmed in third place above Shakhtar Donetsk.

 

Group E

Bayern Munich have won the group and Dynamo Kyiv will finish bottom, but the battle for second and third is going to the wire.

Barcelona have a two-point advantage in second place, but travel to Bayern, while Benfica host Dynamo, with the Portuguese side boasting the superior head-to-head record over the Catalans.

A win in Germany sees Xavi's men safely through, but should they draw or lose, they will be reliant on Benfica failing to win as well.

 

Group F

Manchester United sealed top spot with their 2-0 win at Villarreal on matchday five.

The Yellow Submarine are a point ahead of Atalanta in second, so only need to avoid defeat in Italy, while Gian Piero Gasperini's side must win to take the other qualification place.

Young Boys can still claim a Europa League spot if they beat United at Old Trafford and Atalanta lose.

 

Group G

The tightest of groups where it all comes down to the final round.

Lille sit top on eight points, and a win at Wolfsburg will secure that spot, while a draw will still see them qualify as they have a superior head-to-head with Sevilla.

Salzburg will go through if they avoid defeat at home to Sevilla, winning the group if they win and Lille do not.

Sevilla have to win in Austria to go through. They will at least secure third and a place in the Europa League if they lose and Wolfsburg also fail to beat Lille.

Wolfsburg actually cannot finish third but can finish first or second with a win against Lille.

 

Group H

Chelsea and Juventus have both qualified from the group, and Thomas Tuchel's side will secure top spot with a win at Zenit. Juventus must better Chelsea's result when they host Malmo.

Zenit have already confirmed their place in the Europa League, while Malmo are out.

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola has confirmed Kevin De Bruyne will start their final Champions League group game against RB Leipzig on Tuesday.

De Bruyne missed a month of action after contracting COVID-19 but made his return off the bench in Saturday's 3-1 win at Watford.

The Premier League champions have already secured top spot in Group A after their 2-1 win against Paris Saint-Germain on matchday five.

Speaking at a media conference ahead of City's trip to Germany, Guardiola revealed the Belgian will start the game, saying: "Kevin had the corona, was growing and after had the setback.

"It's normal, the people who have the corona feel empty. Step by step he plays the minutes, tomorrow he will start and we'll see how many minutes."

Guardiola also confirmed several youth players will travel for the game, though he also made mention that five substitutions are allowed in the Champions League, two more than in Premier League games, suggesting they may come off the bench rather than start in the Red Bull Arena.

"They are fantastic young players. They need to settle but the potential is there," he said. "Of course all the guys who play tomorrow want to win, for respect for Leipzig, and respect for Brugge and PSG.

"Hopefully tomorrow some of them can play - we have five subs, not three like here, so maybe we can use them."

The game will be played behind closed doors after the German state of Saxony was placed into a partial COVID-19 lockdown.

"In Germany the situation is not good," the City boss added. "The authorities have decided. We still have to be careful. That is my concern. The situation is dangerous.

"We need to learn that the situation is not solved. Like the PM said, wear a mask, observe social distance and be careful."

City left back Oleksandr Zinchenko also spoke at the media conference, and added: "It is sad news for both teams and the fans who wanted to go to the game and for the players as well. 

"We just play for the fans but the main reason is for our health. I wish everyone is going to be healthy."

Thomas Muller believes Robert Lewandowski should have trumped Lionel Messi after the Argentina international claimed his seventh Ballon d'Or title.

Messi collected his record-extending seventh accolade after more success with Barcelona and Argentina, who ended a 28-year wait for a major trophy with their Copa America win, despite struggling at new club Paris-Saint Germain.

The 34-year-old has scored just once for PSG in seven Ligue 1 outings this term, while Lewandowski has netted 25 times in 20 appearances across all competitions this season for Bayern.

The Poland forward also registered 41 goals in just 29 league games for Die Roten last campaign to break Gerd Muller's 49-year record in a single Bundesliga season, but only finished runner-up at Monday's ceremony.

While coronavirus forced a cancellation of the 2020 Ballon d'Or, which Lewandowski appeared favourite for, Muller feels his team-mate was deserving of the 2021 award as well.

 

"From a Bavarian, Polish and also from a German point of view, the presentation of the Ballon d'Or yesterday evening was definitely a disappointment," Muller wrote in a post on his official LinkedIn profile.

"For some even a little more. Although I've been in the business for a bit longer and was therefore not really surprised at the outcome (it was similar with Franck Ribery in 2013), the whole thing formed or reinforced a thought in me: We have great players in the Bundesliga and we have to not hide us. However, further international successes are necessary for global recognition.

"This is also a huge motivation for me to put everything into the balance in order to bring the Champions League back to Munich and to show the football world what is going on. And above all, what German football has to offer.

"We have the next opportunity to do so next Wednesday in the Champions League game against Barcelona. Let's tackle it! 

"PS: With Lionel Messi, he is probably the best individualist football has ever produced. So congratulations to Lionel on winning the Ballon d'Or, even if I think that Robert Lewandowski would have deserved it more this time."

Lionel Messi has edged out Robert Lewandowski to the 2021 Ballon d'Or award, a seventh of his magnificent career.

World football's most prestigious individual accolade was back up for grabs this year, with the ceremony taking place in Paris on Monday, where Messi was announced as the winner with Lewandowski second.

The Bayern Munich striker would almost certainly have won his maiden Ballon d'Or in 2020, only for France Football to decide not to hand out the award due to the coronavirus pandemic, and was pipped by Paris Saint-Germain star Messi this year in the running for the 2021 iteration.

Lewandowski did get the consolation prize of the inaugural Striker of the Year award.

Was it the right choice, though? Using Opta data, Stats Perform assesses why the Argentinian may have been awarded this year's prize.

Last season: Barca swansong v Muller's record

Few anticipated that the first half of 2021 would also be the final half-season of Messi's time at Barcelona.

His sensational free transfer to PSG at the end of the campaign was forced by financial issues at the Catalan club, and he bid a tearful goodbye to the Camp Nou, but not before signing off with a few more goals.

Messi's last LaLiga campaign before heading off to France saw him bag 30 goals in 35 games, with a further five in six Champions League games.

However, team awards were scarce, with just a Copa del Rey to show for his efforts. Barca finished a meek third in LaLiga, and were eliminated – somewhat ironically – by PSG in the last 16 of the Champions League.

Something that may have counted against Lewandowski was his own lack of silverware compared to the previous year, where he and Bayern hoovered up a remarkable treble, including the Champions League. They did though still retain the Bundesliga title with relative ease, as well as clinching the UEFA Super Cup and FIFA Club World Cup.

They were eliminated from the Champions League at the quarter-final stage, also by a pre-Messi PSG, though this can hardly be blamed on the Polish striker, who missed both legs of the tie through injury.

Lewandowski himself remained in outstanding form, and last season broke Gerd Muller's 49-year record for goals scored in a single Bundesliga campaign, netting 41 for Die Roten in just 29 league games, with a deadly shot conversion percentage across the season of 29.93.

It may have been Messi's superior creativity that helped sway the judges, creating 77 chances in his 35 league games, 22 of which were big chances, compared to 32 and nine from Lewandowski in his 29 league appearances in Germany.

The former Barca man did only manage two more assists than Lewandowski (nine to seven) but completed 159 dribbles and 1,068 successful passes ending in the final third, compared to the Pole's 22 and 237. Of course, it should be noted that Messi's role is typically a deeper one than Lewandowski's, so those latter statistics are not too surprising.

This season: New adventures v same old story

Messi's start to a new life in a new league has not exactly matched the inevitable expectations that accompanied his arrival in Paris.

The 34-year-old has just one goal in seven appearances in Ligue 1 with a shot conversion percentage of just 4.17, though he does have three in four Champions League games for Mauricio Pochettino's side.

Lewandowski has continued to plunder goals against all-comers, with 25 goals in 20 games in all competitions for Bayern, including an incredible nine in five Champions League games, and his shot conversion rate is currently even better than last season at 30.86 per cent.

In all competitions, the former Borussia Dortmund striker has played almost twice as many games as Messi (20 to 11) so it is tricky to compare them too accurately in terms of output, but Lewandowski has created 26 chances to Messi's 18, with six big chances created to five, while Messi has the edge on assists (three to two), dribbles completed (22 to 20) and successful passes ending in the final third (222 to 146).

So far you would have to say it is the Pole who is impressing most in the current campaign, having also had a more productive season last time out, so where exactly did Messi win this award?

 

Internationals: Argentina v Poland

Despite being an individual award, there is no doubt that team accolades often play a big part in swaying the judges, and an eventful pre-season for Messi at club level was arguably the only thing that could possibly have overshadowed what happened at international level as he finally lifted his first trophy in an Argentina shirt.

Messi scored four goals and gave five assists as he led the Albiceleste to their first Copa America title since 1993, being involved in nine of the 12 goals scored by Argentina at the tournament.

Lewandowski, on the other hand, had less success at Euro 2020, with Poland crashing out at the group stage of the re-arranged tournament.

Their star striker still managed to score three goals in three games for his country, but was unable to force them into the knockout stages.

 

Very little creates debate in football quite like the Ballon d'Or, and on the face of it this year's trophy could have gone either way, with honourable mentions for the likes of Jorginho, Cristiano Ronaldo, Mohamed Salah and Karim Benzema.

It is Messi's Ballon d'Or in 2021 though, and it seems that Copa America success is what tipped it in his favour. PSG fans will be hoping that a domestic trophy haul over the next 12 months can see him installed as favourite to secure his eighth award next year, ahead of potentially his last attempt at World Cup success with Argentina.

Barcelona president Joan Laporta is "convinced" the LaLiga giants will reach the Champions League last 16 by beating Bayern Munich next month.

Barca's Champions League hopes hang in the balance following Tuesday's goalless draw at home to Benfica.

Xavi's Barca remain second in Group E and two points ahead of their Portuguese counterparts but face runaway leaders Bayern in two weeks' time with their fate yet to be decided.

Barca last failed to advance beyond the group stage in 2000-01, when they finished behind Milan and Leeds United.

However, Laporta is confident Barca can seal progress to the knockout phase heading into the December 8 showdown in Munich.

"Beating Bayern is something that can be achieved," Laporta said to Diario AS, with Barca looking to bounce back from the 3-0 defeat in the reverse fixture.

"There is going to be a miracle, I am convinced that we are going to win.

"Xavi is very motivated and very strong. I hope everything goes well for us.

"I think that at the moment Xavi's arrival has generated a little respect from our opponents. They know we can do it again."

The stalemate against Benfica was Barca's 133rd home game in the Champions League, and just the eighth to end as a goalless draw.

Xavi became the 13th consecutive head coach to avoid defeat in his first Champions League game in charge of Barcelona (W11 D2), with Louis van Gaal in 1997-98 being the last to lose his first game (3-2 against Newcastle United).

Barca have only scored two goals in five Champions League games this season; only Malmo (0.2), Dynamo Kyiv (0.2) and Shakhtar Donetsk (0.25) have a lower goals-per-game ratio than the Catalan side (0.4) in the competition this term.

Head coach Simone Inzaghi warned Inter not to rest on their laurels after continuing their impressive form with victory over Shakhtar Donetsk.

The Nerazzurri moved to the brink of qualification for the Champions League last 16 as Edin Dzeko scored both goals in a 2-0 win at San Siro.

After making it two wins from two following the hard-earned 3-2 victory over Napoli on Sunday, the reigning Serie A champions are now unbeaten in their last eight matches in all competitions.

And Inzaghi urged his players to ensure they continue their momentum.

"We needed this victory," he said. "We had created a lot in the first half and a bit of tension had built up, so Dzeko's first goal was a release. 

"Qualifying for the knockout stage would be a great achievement.

"I think that we played a great game and let's not forget that we are just over 48 hours away from a match [against Venezia on Saturday] like the one with Napoli in which we have spent a lot of energy, including mental energy. 

"We are in a good moment, but we must continue on this path."

Dzeko's brace secured the points on Wednesday, the striker netting his 50th European goal along the way.

Inter previously had two goals disallowed with Ivan Perisic and Lautaro Martinez denied, but Dzeko believes the hosts were rewarded for their patience and perseverance.

"Inter signed me to score goals and I'm trying to make my contribution," the former Manchester City forward added.

"In the first half, we made a lot of mistakes, but their goalkeeper was also good. 

"We earned three crucial points.

"The ball did not want to go in in the first half, but also the second half seemed cursed with the goals disallowed.

"You have to be patient, without conceding a goal, and then in the second half, we finally managed to score two."

Edin Dzeko scored his 50th European goal as Inter took a huge stride towards the Champions League knockout stages with a 2-0 win over Shakhtar Donetsk.

The former Manchester City striker netted a brace at San Siro as the Nerazzurri moved to the brink of the last 16.

Dzeko opened the scoring with a clinical finish in the 61st minute, before sealing the win six minutes later with a close-range header.

Simone Inzaghi's side move to the summit of Group D and will secure a top-two finish if Real Madrid beat Sheriff Tiraspol later on Wednesday.

Inter asked Shakhtar plenty of questions during the first half with 14 shots on goal.

The visitors had Anatolii Trubin to thank as the goalkeeper made strong blocks to deny Lautaro Martinez and Dzeko, while Andrea Ranocchia headed a decent opportunity wide from a corner.

Inter thought they had taken the lead when Ivan Perisic drilled home in the 24th minute, but the effort was ruled out after Hakan Calhanoglu strayed offside.

Chances for Shakhtar were few and far between at the other end, although Samir Handanovic was called into action to deny Fernando following a strong run.

Inter had the ball in the net again 12 minutes after the restart, Martinez volleying past Trubin, only for his strike to be ruled out for a push.

But there was no denying the hosts four minutes later as Dzeko fired home from just inside the box after Matteo Darmian's initial effort ricocheted kindly into his path.

The Bosnia-Herzegovina international doubled his tally within six minutes, popping up at the far post to head home Perisic's inviting cross and secure the points.

Xavi has issued a rallying cry to Barcelona as their Champions League hopes hang in the balance following Tuesday's 0-0 draw with Benfica.

The Blaugrana missed the opportunity to seal their progress to the knockout stages of the competition, despite a dominant performance at Camp Nou.

Although Xavi became the 13th consecutive manager to avoid defeat in his first Champions League game in charge of Barca, his side were unable to break down a stubborn Benfica.

The goalless stalemate was only the eighth that Barcelona have recorded in 133 home matches in this competition, while they have mustered just two goals from their opening five games.

They remain second in Group E and two points ahead of their Portuguese counterparts, but face runaway leaders Bayern Munich in two weeks' time with their fate yet to be decided.

Xavi insists his side will travel to Germany with a positive mentality.

"We were far superior to Benfica. If we had scored, we would be talking about a good match," the Barca head coach said.

"We take a point that means very little. We have one day left, and we have to go to Germany to win.

"We have one goal in two games [since I took over] and we have scored it from a penalty. It is clear that we have to be more effective.

"You have to go to Munich to win; we are Barca."

Barca did have the ball in the net through Ronald Araujo in the 83rd minute, but the defender's volley was ruled out for offside.

The Uruguay international was pleased with the mentality demonstrated by the hosts, but admitted the result left a bitter taste in his mouth.

"We missed the goal, which was the golden key to qualify," Araujo said. "The attitude was very good, but they were very tight in defence.

"There is a bitter taste because we wanted to win the three points here, in front of our people, but we have to win now in Munich."

Real Madrid forward Vinicius Junior must learn a has the humility to improve after making an impressive start to the season, according to head coach Carlo Ancelotti.

The 21-year-old has played an instrumental role in Madrid's surge to the top of the LaLiga table after their opening 13 games.

Only team-mate Karim Benzema (10) has scored more times in the Spanish top flight than Vinicius, whose tally of eight is as many as he managed in the previous three seasons combined.

The forward has attempted (89) and completed (41) more dribbles than any other player, while only Young Boys' Moumi Ngamaleu (42) has attempted more in the Champions League.

 

The Brazil international has also registered three assists in Europe's premier club competition; a tally only bettered by Bruno Fernandes and Ajax's Antony.

Nevertheless, Ancelotti insists that Vinicius can get even better.

"Because of the way he plays, [he] is the most unbalanced there is in football, there are not many players who do these things at the moment," he said.

"He has to improve because one-on-one is important in football, but it is not the most important thing. 

"But he has the humility to improve and not be happy about what he's doing; he wants to learn and he has to learn. 

"His head is fine – he doesn't have the head of someone who has won everything; he has the head of a young man who thinks he has to improve."

 

Ancelotti also played down suggestions of a fall-out between himself and Isco.

The Spain international abandoned his warm-up during Sunday's 4-1 win over Granada after being told he would be introduced at a later point in the game.

"I don't have to talk to Isco, I'm very fond of him and it's not much of a problem," Ancelotti added.

"He tells me that he had already warmed up, he was ready to go in and he has entered. 

"Isco is professional, serious, and angry because he doesn't play, but he has never disrespected me and I have never disrespected him. And he will never disrespect me, and I will never disrespect him. 

"We have a relationship that is not only professional; we have spent a lot of time together, we respect each other to the fullest."

Donny van de Beek was handed only his second start for Manchester United this season in Tuesday's clash with Villarreal as Michael Carrick took charge for the first time.

United were in action for the first time since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's dismissal on Sunday, and Carrick – named caretaker manager ahead of an expected interim appointment – made his presence known.

Van de Beek came straight into the starting XI after a positive cameo off the bench in Solskjaer's final game, the 4-1 defeat at Watford.

The Dutchman scored United's only goal in that game, which was just his third top-flight appearance of the season.

Van de Beek has been bizarrely marginalised since joining from Ajax last year for approximately £45million, as he made just four Premier League starts in 2020-21.

As such, he has lost his place in the Netherlands team and media speculation has strongly suggested he was planning to engineer a move away in the upcoming January transfer window.

But Carrick elected to give him a rare opportunity from the start, with Bruno Fernandes the one to drop out of the team.

Jadon Sancho also showed flashes of quality against Watford and retained his place in the starting XI, though Marcus Rashford – withdrawn at half-time at Vicarage Road – was dropped in favour of Anthony Martial, who replaced him at the weekend.

Luke Shaw missed out at left-back due to a head injury, meaning Alex Telles filled in.

Heading into the game, United sat top of Group F but level on seven points with Villarreal.

Manchester United caretaker manager Michael Carrick is relishing the challenge of leading the team for their Champions League clash with Villarreal following the sacking of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

The Norwegian was relieved of his duties at Old Trafford on Sunday following a poor run of results, culminating in a humiliating 4-1 defeat at Watford on Saturday.

Carrick was a part of Solskjaer's backroom staff and has been asked to take charge of the Red Devils until an interim manager can be hired to see them through to the end of the season.

Speaking at a media conference ahead of the trip to Spain for Tuesday's game, Carrick told reporters: "My mindset is that I'm preparing the team for tomorrow night and I'll give it my best. 

"This club has been my life for an awful long time now. I'm not too sure [how long it will be for] but that's not on my mind right now.

"It's a big game for us. I will go about my job as I know, trust myself and my staff, the players and look forward to the game."

When asked if there are likely to be any changes in tactics on his watch, Carrick responded: "I've worked closely with Ole for a long time now and we have similar beliefs.

"Of course, I have my own personality but it's very similar [to Solskjaer] and that's why we've worked together well for a period of time. I have clear plans in my own mind of what we want to do and how we want to go about it.

"It's a challenge I'm relishing at the moment and I'm really looking forward to it. I know it's not what we wanted but it's a fantastic group – they've proved that before and they'll prove it again."

The former United and England midfielder was also asked when he found out he would be taking charge of the team for at least the next game.

"I found out [Sunday] at the training ground," Carrick said. "I didn't know anything before then and I don't think anyone [among coaching staff and players] did. Ole was already here. It was a bit of a rush then to organise training, speak to the players and carry out the day's work.

"All things considered, it went really well yesterday, everyone adapted in a really classy manner."

United go into the game at Villarreal top of Group F but level on seven points with the Spanish side, while Atalanta are just two points behind in third.

"The biggest thing for the fans is a result," Carrick insisted. "There's a responsibility that comes with playing for this club that doesn't come with playing for many others.

"[Villarreal] have a good mix, a good balance and we respect that. We've met a couple of times and we know each other a little bit better. It's a big game for both teams but it's one we can really look forward to."

 

Real Madrid head coach Carlo Ancelotti says Vinicius Junior is brimming with confidence following his wonderful individual goal in their thrashing of Shakhtar Donetsk.

The 13-time European champions romped to a commanding 5-0 victory in Kiev, their biggest away win in the Champions League since beating Viktoria Plzen by the same scoreline in November 2018.

Vinicius was on target twice, his second goal in the 56th minute the highlight of a dazzling performance.

Just five minutes after doubling his side’s lead, the winger beat several defenders with a jinking run from the left, before firing past Shakhtar keeper Anatolii Trubin.

Ancelotti saluted the Brazil international, who now has seven goals in all competitions this season, his highest tally during a single campaign for Los Blancos.

But the head coach insisted the highest praise should be reserved for the entire team as they bounced back from successive defeats, and warmed up nicely ahead of Sunday's Clasico showdown with Barcelona.

"My team thrives on incredible ambition, which is why we've produced the perfect match," Ancelotti said to reporters post-match.

"After our recent results, it was vital to react and we've done it well. We did what we promised to. 

"Vinicius finished very well indeed, but it was a team effort to produce the goals. 

"He's a young guy, a great player in the making, learning and right now, he's brimming with confidence. But the special praise I'll give is to the entire team." 

As well as his two goals, Vinicius teed up international compatriot Rodrygo's goal as the former recorded a goal and an assist for the first time in 24 Champions League appearances.

The 21-year-old is pleased with the strides he is making, while he also expressed his gratitude for the faith shown in him by Ancelotti.

"I'm still 21, there's lots of time for me to grow into a great player," Vinicius commented after the full-time whistle.

"But I'm working hard so that even if sometimes things don't come off for me, other moments will. I've scored seven times this season – better than the last season – and that's important.

"I love playing in pressure matches, that's natural to me. But the trust and confidence this coach has shown in me is important, too."

Vinicius Junior scored twice as Real Madrid got their Champions League campaign back on track with a commanding 5-0 win over Shakhtar Donetsk.

Having suffered a shock defeat by Sheriff last time out in Group D, Carlo Ancelotti's men endured no such difficulties at the Olympic Stadium in Kiev.

Sergey Krivtsov's own goal got the ball rolling for the visitors seven minutes before half-time, while Vinicius' quickfire double put them in control after the break.

Further strikes from Rodrygo and Karim Benzema completed the rout as coach Ancelotti claimed his fifth straight victory over Donetsk in this competition.

Despite a bright start at the scene of their 2018 Champions League final triumph over Liverpool, Madrid had a scare in the 23rd minute.

Indeed, Ferland Mendy was forced to clear Ismaily's dangerous cross with Mateus Tete lurking for a tap-in.

But it was the 13-time European champions who hit the front in extremely fortuitous circumstances after 37 minutes, as Lucas Vazquez's hopeful ball towards Benzema was sliced beyond his own goalkeeper by skipper Krivtsov.

Benzema was involved again as Madrid doubled their lead within six minutes of the start of the second half. After Donetsk were caught in possession from a throw-in, the skipper found Luka Modric, whose perfectly weighted first-time ball was delicately finished by Vinicius.

The Brazilian grabbed his second in emphatic fashion just five minutes later.

Receiving the ball from Benzema on the left flank, he embarked on a jinking run into the heart of the hosts' defence before sweeping the ball past Anatolii Trubin.

Vinicius then turned provider in the 65th minute, demonstrating tremendous vision to cut the ball back for Rodrygo to thump into the roof of the net. Benzema completed the scoring with a neat finish in the dying moments of the contest.

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