Ronald Koeman's 14-month spell in charge of Barcelona came to an end on Wednesday following another humbling defeat.

Barca fell 1-0 at Rayo Vallecano, fresh on the back of losing to fierce rivals Real Madrid, and find themselves ninth in LaLiga with 10 games played. 

The Dutchman departs Camp Nou with a win percentage of 58.21 across a 67-game tenure that provided more negatives than positives.

Here, Stats Perform picks out a few of the highs and lows from Koeman's reign, which coincided with the most difficult off-field period in the club's history.

MESSI'S DEPARTURE

When looking backing on Koeman's time at Barcelona in years to come, it will be best remembered as the period in which the Blaugrana were having to adapt to life without all-time leading goalscorer Lionel Messi.

Years of financial mismanagement predating Koeman's arrival in August 2020 meant Barca were unable to tie Messi down to a new deal and he left for Paris Saint-Germain shortly before the start of the 2021-22 campaign.

Sergio Aguero arrived but it was always going to take considerable time to replace a player that had scored 672 goals and provided 265 assists across 778 games. So it proved, with Barca's goalscoring problems laid bare this term.

CLASSICO WOES

While the loss to Rayo proved to be the final straw for Koeman, there had been growing talk that he would be on his way out regardless following Sunday's 2-1 Clasico defeat to Madrid.

Barca simply failed to turn up against their biggest rivals – and not for the first time given it was their fourth successive loss to Madrid in all competitions, making it their worst such run in the fixture since 1965.

Koeman is only the second manager in LaLiga history to lose his first three Clasicos, after Patrick O'Connell between 1935 and 1940, and that latest loss was not taken well by Barca supporters. The former Netherlands boss had his car mobbed by a crowd of disgruntled fans as he attempted to depart Camp Nou.

EUROPEAN HUMBLINGS

Barca's on-field struggles were not limited to LaLiga, either, as they made a historically bad start to this season's Champions League campaign with 3-0 defeats to Bayern Munich and Benfica.

Never before had they lost their opening two games in the competition and, while they did just about recover with a 1-0 win over Dynamo Kiev last time out, whoever succeeds Koeman still has plenty of work on their hands to advance from the group.

Indeed, before that win over Dynamo, Barca had lost four and drawn one of their last five games in the Champions League, having also lost to Juventus in the final game of their group campaign last term before losing to PSG over two legs in the last 16.

COPA TRIUMPH EASES PAIN 

Exiting the Champions League in the first knockout round last season was one of a number of disappointments for Barca in their only full season under Koeman.

Barca finished the LaLiga season in third, seven points behind champions Atletico Madrid, and also lost to Athletic Bilbao in the Supercopa de Espana in dramatic circumstances.

But Koeman did win one trophy at Camp Nou thanks to success in the 2020-21 Copa del Rey. After overturning a two-goal first-leg deficit against Sevilla in the semi-finals, Barca exacted revenge on Bilbao in the final with a 4-0 win.

That made ex-Valencia head coach Koeman the second manager after Luis Enrique to win his first two Copa del Rey finals this century.

 

A NEW DAWN

Koeman will rightly point out that he had to operate with one hand tied behind his back due to Barca's financial difficulties, with Antoine Griezmann following Messi out of the door in the most recent transfer window.

Barcelona's squad became substantially weaker as a result, though it did at least present a chance to bring in some new blood. Koeman has brought the average age of the side down to 25.5, ranking Barca as the third-youngest team in LaLiga this season.

Ansu Fati's development may have been stunted by knee injury issues, which again kept him out of the Rayo loss, but the club's new number 10 has been given a firm footing to potentially succeed all-time great Messi as the face of Barca going forward.

Pedri and Gavi have also made a big impact under Koeman, the latter overtaking his team-mate to become the youngest player to start an El Clasico this century last weekend at the age of 17 years and 80 days. 

It will be those players, and not Koeman, who will attempt to return the club to former glories.

Ronald Koeman has been sacked by Barcelona after the club's dismal start to the 2021-22 campaign rolled on.

Koeman replaced Quique Setien in August 2020 but has failed to make an impact at Camp Nou as he battled with Barca's dire financial situation, which led to Lionel Messi departing for Paris Saint-Germain.

Barca sit ninth in LaLiga after 10 games and Wednesday's defeat to Rayo Vallecano proved the final straw.

That loss followed on from a 2-1 home reverse at the hands of Real Madrid in El Clasico, with Koeman's vehicle mobbed by an angry group of Barca supporters after that match. 

Barca's form in the Champions League has also been poor. The Blaugrana lost 3-0 to Bayern Munich and Benfica respectively in their opening matches, before clinching a 1-0 home win over Dynamo Kiev.

It is the first time Barca have opened with two losses in the competition, while the defeat to Benfica also inflicted back-to-back group game losses in a single season for the first time since 2000-01, with only Louis van Gaal (five) losing more such matches at Barca's helm than Koeman (three).

After each passing poor result, Koeman has conceded his future is out of his hands, though he argued the performance against Rayo did not befit the result.

Yet Barca's board decided to cut ties, with their decision confirmed early on Thursday morning local time.

"FC Barcelona has relieved Ronald Koeman of his duties as first team coach," a club statement read.

"The president of the club, Joan Laporta, informed him of the decision after the defeat against Rayo Vallecano. Ronald Koeman will say goodbye to the squad on Thursday at the Ciutat Esportiva.  

"FC Barcelona wishes to thank him for his service to the Club and wishes him all the best in his professional career."

Koeman had endured a strained relationship with club president Joan Laporta since the former's election.

When elected in March, Laporta made it clear that Koeman was not a part of his long-term plans and the relationship has deteriorated from then on, despite suggestions at one point of a new contract for the Dutchman.

Barca will face Alaves in LaLiga on Saturday as they bid to salvage their position in the table without Koeman.

Ronald Koeman has been sacked by Barcelona after the club’s dismal start to the 2021-22 campaign rolled on.

Koeman replaced Quique Setien in August 2020 but has failed to make an impact at Camp Nou as he battled with Barca's dire financial situation, which led to Lionel Messi departing for Paris Saint-Germain.

Barca sit ninth in LaLiga after 10 games and Wednesday’s defeat to Rayo Vallecano proved the final straw.

That loss followed on from a 2-1 home reverse at the hands of Real Madrid in El Clasico, with Koeman's vehicle mobbed by an angry group of Barca supporters after that match. 

Barca's form in the Champions League has also been poor. The Blaugrana lost 3-0 to Bayern Munich and Benfica respectively in their opening matches, before clinching a 1-0 home win over Dynamo Kiev.

It is the first time Barca have opened with two losses in the competition, while the defeat to Benfica also inflicted back-to-back group game losses in a single season for the first time since 2000-01, with only Louis van Gaal (five) losing more such matches at Barca's helm than Koeman (three).

After each passing poor result, Koeman has conceded his future is out of his hands, though he argued the performance against Rayo did not befit the result.

Yet Barca's board decided to cut ties, with their decision confirmed early on Thursday morning local time.

 

Karim Adeyemi will not be leaving Salzburg in January despite an explosive start to the season, according the Austrian club's sporting director Christoph Freund.

The 19-year-old forward has long been touted as a potential star of the future, having originally been in the Bayern Munich academy as a child before being let go and joining Unterhaching.

It was there that he attracted the interest of numerous foreign clubs and he ultimately picked Salzburg, with Chelsea among those he turned down, and the move has so far gone well.

After an impressive 18 months on loan at Salzburg's sister club Liefering in the second tier, Adeyemi got his chance at the Red Bull Arena early last year as he played 10 Austrian Bundesliga games before the end of the season.

Then in 2020-21, his playing time increased again with 29 appearances, and he has really kicked on this term, the teenager's 11 league starts the same he was given last season as he has become a central figure.

Adeyemi's 10 league goals is three more than anyone else in the Austrian Bundesliga this term, while he has also got three in the Champions League – only four players (including Robert Lewandowski and Mohamed Salah) have more.

A lively and technically gifted striker who likes to run at defenders, with his 60 dribble attempts the most of anyone in Austria's top flight this season, it is understandable that many clubs are reportedly keen on bringing him in.

 

Borussia Dortmund and Liverpool are among those to have been mentioned, but Freund doubts any transfer will occur before the end of the season.

"Karim will finish the season with us," Freund told Sky Austria. "He should fill the role he has right now for the whole season.

"That is clearly the main focus in Karim's head, and also in ours. I don't know what would have to happen, what scenario would have to occur, for Karim to not finish the season with us.

"He is on the right track and enjoys playing. That fits in well here."

Adeyemi's form this season has seen him break into Germany's senior national team as well, with the talented forwarded playing three World Cup qualifiers and scoring his first goal in September's 6-0 win over Armenia.

It is reported that Salzburg would demand at least €30million for Adeyemi, who is contracted to the club until June 2024.

Borussia Dortmund boss Marco Rose has revealed that a hip flexor injury will rule out talisman Erling Haaland for the next few weeks.

The striker only returned to action in last weekend's win over Mainz after a muscular problem saw him miss three games for Rose's side.

However, the 21-year-old, who has scored 13 goals in 10 appearances across all competitions this season, is now set for another spell on the sidelines. 

Addressing reporters ahead of Dortmund's trip to Arminia Bielefeld on Saturday, Rose said: "Erling Haaland won't play and will be absent for a few weeks with a hip flexor injury.

"Haaland has, of course, been down. He was happy to be back and still felt really good after the Mainz game."

Rose confirmed that Thomas Meunier and Nico Schulz will also be absent this weekend through injury.

Haaland provided fans with an update on Friday. Posting to his 1.3 million followers on Twitter, he said: "Time to focus on my recovery, I'll be back stronger."

Dortmund are second in the Bundesliga with 18 points from their opening eight games, just one point behind leaders and reigning champions Bayern Munich.

Erling Haaland is the name on everyone's lips as Europe's elite try to get their hands on the Borussia Dortmund and Norway sensation.

Haaland is already on the cusp of half a century of Bundesliga goals, having scored 49 in 49 league appearances since swapping Salzburg for Dortmund in January 2020.

It is a remarkable return – the 21-year-old has 70 goals in 69 games for the German club overall, only Bayern Munich's Robert Lewandowski (89 goals in 74 games) has a better return among players from Europe's top-five leagues.

Haaland has always been a goalscorer.

Born in Leeds in 2000, where his father Alf-Inge played for Leeds United in the Premier League at the time, Erling relocated to Bryne by the age of three – the hometown of his parents in Norway.

It is there where Erling Haaland took his first steps in football.

Alf Ingve Berntsen spent more than eight years coaching Haaland, including several matches for Byrne's first team in 2016 following the sudden departure of Gaute Larsen.

"He was the best from the first day. Scoring a lot, smiling a lot, training a lot," Berntsen told Stats Perform as he recalled Haaland's time at Byrne, where the pair worked together between the ages of eight to 16.

 

Haaland was part of a group of 40 talented youngsters coached by Berntsen at Bryne.

But Haaland – even playing with older kids – always stood out in a city with a population of just over 12,200 people on the southern shores of the lake Froylandsvatnet.

"A player of that level, you can spot the class from the first day… the first day you spot something special like Erling, one way or another. You can see it from the beginning," Berntsen said.

"In Norway we have a few big clubs who have academies and select best ones from a region. But most of the clubs, they have a big grassroots path. Our club is like that – part of is like a top club but a big part is grassroots. Often we try to hold them together.

"Erling was one of 40 players who trained together, in fact until they were 15. That was the first year we separated them. Erling was one year younger than the others because he was too good for his age group. He was 14. Twenty of them wanted to train four times a week and 20 wanted to train twice a week. Even then we kept them together. In that group, Erling was quite a normal guy. Funny and a desire to train and win. He was the best from the first day. Scoring a lot, smiling a lot, training a lot. He was quite similar to how he is today."

"He was quite average size but because he trained with older boys, he lacked a bit in his height. He wasn't small in size but he was skinny, very skinny," Berntsen said. "He had his growth spurt when he was 14-15. Until then, he was normal height. From 14 he started to grow very quick. He kept growing until we went to Molde. When you stop growing, it's time to develop your muscles. It's not always wise to do much building your muscles when you're growing. We knew this would happen because his family, his older brother, he is fast and strong, we knew when he was 11-12 that we had to wait some years, this was something special in the making."

After a brief period with Byrne's senior team, Haaland was lured to Molde in 2017 and after 20 goals in 50 appearances overall, the Norwegian was eventually lured to Salzburg two years later.

Haaland dazzled with Austrian giants Salzburg, scoring an absurd 29 goals in only 27 games across all competitions – he joined Alessandro del Piero, Sergei Rebrov, Neymar, Cristiano Ronaldo and Lewandowski as the only players to score in the first five matches of a Champions League group stage, while becoming the first teenager to achieve the feat.

He also scored nine times for Norway's Under-20 team in a 12-0 rout of Honduras at the 2019 U20 World Cup. Haaland did not see out a season at Salzburg, prised to Dortmund in January last year and he has not looked back.

In this season's Bundesliga, Haaland surpassed his expected goal (xG)-value by 2.9 (nine goals, 6.1 xG) – only Bayer Leverkusen sensation Florian Wirtz eclipsed his value (3.0), per Opta.

Since Haaland joined Dortmund, he exceeded his xG-value (38.7) in the Bundesliga by 10.3. It is the highest value of a player in Europe's top-five leagues in this time.

"He is very similar to now to when he was 11-12. He scores a lot. In that group, if there were 40 players, many of them were of good quality. Ten of the players with Erling, nine other players played in the region team. Four of them later came into the Under-18 national team. Erling had to conquer each training session, to win. He didn't have it always easy," Berntsen said.

"The personality and quality you see is quite similar. When he played with two defenders, they played for Norway U18 - they are strong and powerful. If he had to score in the training session, he had to be smart in his movement. Quite early he developed the smartness, the tactical ability. The whole of the group trained much outside the main session - in the indoor hall, hour after hour having fun. He gained very good technical skills.

"His mental skills were strong early. He was always more willing to win. The technical and mental part were very good. He lacked a bit physically. We knew to wait some years and this might explode. The personality, desire and passion is just what it was earlier."

 

"When he moved up to us, because of the quality of the group, he didn't have to be too high on his self because it wasn't too easy," Berntsen continued on Haaland's attitude and character. "We didn't know if we were going to lose or win in training.

"This is a small place where 12,000 live. everyone knows each other. He had to develop with no media around. It was a good place for him. No big attention. He had to train and develop without any disturbance because if you are in a big city and club, you can have a lot of attention and it isn't so easy. But here he could train with his friends and develop steady. His father had played in the Premier League, so in this area everyone knew who he was."

Since Haaland's arrival in Dortmund, he has scored 13 Bundesliga goals after carries – in Europe's top-five leagues, it is only bettered by six-time Ballon d'Or winner Lionel Messi (15).

In the 2021-22 league campaign, Haaland is one of four players who has been involved on 10 open-play sequences which ended in a goal – together with Hoffenheim's Andrej Kramaric, Bayern veteran Thomas Muller and Wirtz.

While Berntsen predicted a great career, not even he could have envisaged the speed of Haaland's rise to the top amid links with the likes of Real Madrid, Manchester United, Barcelona, Bayern, Manchester City, Chelsea, Liverpool, Paris Saint-Germain and Juventus.

"I didn't see that at this age that he would become top scorer in the Champions League like he did or score in each match at this level. But we're not surprised that he is doing well," Berntsen said.

"When he got the first possibility to play in the regions team, he was picked then the national team, you can play from 15, and he was picked and scored. He always kept scoring at a new level. At a time when he lacked a bit physically. We knew he would become strong and fast. Of course we didn't see that level at that early age. But many of us, we were quite sure he was going to have a good international career, from 12 years old."

He added: "When you're 21, the body isn't fully grown yet. It can develop in all aspects of the game but it's not too easy now because the level he is on is high already. But when you're trying on a daily basis, you train to get better. If you do that, you'll have a small percentage of growth.

"He is one of the new rising stars that can do a lot of different - high pressure, low pressure, he can run, smart in the box, quite good in offence and defence. The next generation of players will have that variety - not just one type on top. He can be a front man or in counter-attacks. That might be common in the future. You have quite good variants in quality. There are still things for him to develop."

Prior to matchday-three fixtures in the Champions League, only Lewandowski had scored more goals and a higher xG-value across all competitions in the top-five leagues this season than Haaland.

Dating back to his switch from Salzburg in 2020, Haaland eclipsed his xG-value in his Champions league performances by 4.1 – the highest value of a player in the Champions League in this time prior to the club's 4-0 rout at the hands of Ajax.

While only Lewandowski has been involved in more Champions League open-play sequences that ended in a goal than Haaland since the latter's transfer to Germany (before Dortmund and Bayern's fixtures this week).

When asked where Haaland – who has a return of 12 goals in 15 international appearances for Norway – would be best suited if he were to leave Dortmund, Berntsen replied: "There's not so many possibilities now. There may be a few clubs who can afford him. It's not for everyone.

"Erling and his family, they've done a brilliant job to select the next level. If he stays in Dortmund, if he was to end his career there, still he had a brilliant career because he's a funny guy from a little town. 

"Erling is down to earth. If you have a job and have big defenders knocking you down, you have to make a statement and prove yourself. He is a loveable guy and we are proud of him. Humble. If you asked me a year ago, I'd say maybe Spain or England but Spain or France now."

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer knows Donny van de Beek is "not happy" and "frustrated" with a lack of opportunities at Manchester United.

The Netherlands international arrived from Ajax for a reported £40million last season but chances have been few and far between for the 24-year-old at Old Trafford.

Van de Beek has been afforded just 140 minutes of action across in competitions this term – 90 of those coming against West Ham in the EFL Cup – and the midfielder's frustrations were picked up by television cameras in a win over Villarreal last month.

The former Ajax man was spotted throwing his chewing gum in the direction of the United bench after Jesse Lingard was brought on from the bench.

However, asked about the incident after the Atalanta win – in which the Red Devils overturned a two-goal deficit to triumph 3-2 – Solskjaer joked to deflect any conflict, while admitting Van de Beek's frustrations.

"It’s wiser to throw away your chewing gum and not to swallow it," Solskjaer said to Dutch outlet RTL7. "We learned that as children.

"And giving your chewing gum to someone else is not possible in these Corona times either. Sensible, so I could see he was throwing it away.

"Donny is still working hard, of course, and at the moment it’s hard. I understand Donny is frustrated, he’s disappointed but he keeps on working every day with a big smile.

"I know he’s not happy, but he works hard and he’s a top professional. He knows that that’s the way that sometimes it works in football. At the moment he’s not playing but he doesn’t let himself down."

United came from two goals down in the Champions League to win for the third time on Wednesday – the joint-most in the competition.

Marcus Rashford's strike, which was the 300th goal of Solskjaer's tenure, started the comeback before Harry Maguire and Cristiano Ronaldo completed a remarkable turnaround.

Bruno Fernandes also created eight chances – the most by a United player in Europe since the 2003-04 season – and Solskjaer insisted Van de Beek, who was once again an unused substitute again, must remain patient in waiting for a chance.

"I can’t go into every single player," the head coach continued. "But if you see our team I thought our performance was really good. He’s got some good players that he plays with.

"He keeps training well and I enjoy having him there and I hope for him that he gets his chances."

Bayern Munich head coach Julian Nagelsmann has tested positive for COVID-19.

Nagelsmann was absent due to 'flu-like symptoms' as Bayern beat Benfica 4-0 in Portugal on Wednesday, maintaining their flawless Champions League group-stage record so far this season, with assistant manager Dino Toppmoller standing in.

The Bavarian giants have won each of their first three games in the competition, scoring 12 times and not conceding a single goal to sit five points clear at the top of Group E.

The club confirmed on Thursday morning that the 34-year-old, despite being fully vaccinated, had tested positive for the virus and will return to Munich separately instead of with the rest of the squad before isolating at his home.

As a result, Nagelsmann will miss Bayern's next league game at home against Hoffenheim on October 23, with Toppmoller set to continue filling in.

Bayern are one point ahead of Borussia Dortmund at the top of the Bundesliga, winning six and losing just one of their first eight games as they seek a 10th consecutive league title.

Cristiano Ronaldo lauded Manchester United's never-say-die attitude after netting a late winner in a come-from-behind 3-2 Champions League win over Atalanta on Wednesday.

United trailed 2-0 at half-time after strikes from Mario Pasalic and Merih Demiral in their Group F clash at Old Trafford before a stirring second-half comeback was capped by Ronaldo's 81st-minute winner.

It was the third time the Red Devils had won a Champions League game from two or more goals down, the equal most of any club in competition history alongside Arsenal.

"Yes! The Theatre Of Dreams is on fire! We are alive!," Ronaldo wrote via his social media channels. "We are Man. United and we never give up! This is Old Trafford!"

Ronaldo's winner, which came after goals from Marcus Rashford and Harry Maguire to pull them level, meant he has scored in three consecutive Champion League games for United – the second time the Portuguese superstar has achieved the feat, previously doing so in November 2007 en route to winning the European trophy.

The 36-year-old has netted six times in eight appearances in all competitions since returning to United from Juventus in August.

Pasalic and Demiral's first-half goals meant United fell 2-0 behind within 29 minutes, which was the earliest they have trailed by that margin at Old Trafford in a Champions League game since October 2012, when they went on to win 3-2 against Braga.

United have not kept a clean sheet in 12 consecutive home games in all competitions, dating back to last season's Europa League quarter-final against Granada. It is their longest run without home clean sheet since February 1964 (13 games).

Juventus relied too heavily on Cristiano Ronaldo over the past three seasons, Leonardo Bonucci suggested after Wednesday's Champions League win over Zenit.

Ronaldo joined Juve in 2018 and helped the Bianconeri win Serie A twice, though they fell short of winning a 10th straight Scudetto last season.

The 36-year-old left Juve in August, heading back to Manchester United in a shock transfer. He hit the ground running at Old Trafford and, after going two games without a goal, scored the winner in the Red Devils' 3-2 comeback victory over Juve's fellow Serie A side Atalanta midweek.

While Ronaldo spearheaded United's attack in Manchester, Juve moved onto nine points in Champions League Group H as Dejan Kulusevski's 86th-minute header sealed a 1-0 win over Zenit.

It is the first time Juve have won all three of their opening Champions League group-stage matches since Massimiliano Allegri's last season in charge, back in 2018-19.

Though they have made an impressive start in Europe, Juve have laboured in the league and sit seventh heading into Sunday's derby d'Italia clash with Inter, though a win would take them onto level points with the defending champions.

Ronaldo scored 36 goals in all competitions last season, with only four players across Europe's top-five leagues managing more, but Bonucci believes Juve lost a will to "suffer and sacrifice".

"It's absolutely true, it is what we all said," Bonucci told Sky Sport Italia after the win in St Petersburg. "In the recent past, we had lost that characteristic of Juve.

"We were all playing with a great champion and wanted him to do well, so perhaps we lost that desire to all suffer and sacrifice ourselves together, because we assumed he would sort it out.

"The coach has done really well to get that spirit and humility back and we all work together now to get the result."

While Juve may have their spirit back, they did lack cutting edge for a significant portion of Wednesday's match.

Weston McKennie had passed up two previous opportunities, including what was the best chance of the game, as per Opta's expected goals (xG) value, when he saw a close-range effort saved by Stanislav Kritsyuk in the 51st minute.

Kulusevski eventually broke the deadlock when he glanced Mattia De Sciglio's cross in off the post to become Juve's second-youngest Champions League goalscorer, after the great Alessandro Del Piero.

"I will never forget this goal for as long as I live," Kulusevski told Juventus TV. "It was my debut Champions League goal, the first I have scored this season and it was even a header!"

Juve's cause in attack might have been helped by Paulo Dybala, but the Argentine forward, whose next Champions League appearance will be his 50th in the competition, was unavailable due to an injury he sustained last month.

Before the match, vice-president Pavel Nedved revealed talks over a new deal are almost resolved.

Nedved told Sky Sport Italia: "We all hope he can be on the pitch and sign the new contract. I believe we are very close to the signature, we're very happy. Paulo is very important for this team."

Dino Toppmoller hailed the way Bayern Munich's players overcame the absence of Julian Nagelsmann to clinch a 4-0 win over Benfica.

Bayern head coach Nagelsmann pulled out of the Champions League Group E game three hours beforehand with flu-like symptoms and handed the reins to assistant Toppmoller.

Two goals from Leroy Sane, one from Robert Lewandowski and an own goal from Benfica's Everton wrapped up a comfortable victory in Lisbon on Wednesday for the six-time winners.

It ensured Bayern have earned nine points from their first three games and are sitting pretty at the top of Group E, five points clear of second-placed Benfica with Barcelona further point behind.

Bayern have scored 12 goals and conceded none to give them their best start to a Champions League season and the joint-best overall in the competition.

"The boys were sensational, especially in the second half," Toppmoller told DAZN.

"Huge compliments to the team. It's not easy for the boys when the head coach pulls out at the last moment."

Benfica have never beaten Bayern in any of their 11 European meetings (drawn three, lost eight). 

But despite the scoreline, Bayern did not have it all their own way and were indebted to two fine saves from goalkeeper Manuel Neuer when it was 0-0.

The Germany international managed a clean sheet on his 100th appearance in the Champions League as he became only the fourth player to reach a century of appearances for the club in the competition, and only the second goalkeeper after Oliver Kahn (103).

"It's gigantic, I never would have believed it," Neuer said of the milestone.

"If someone had said that to me at the start of my career, I never would have thought it was possible. It's a great time and we had a great crowd today.

"I think the second half was incredible. We gave very little away and had the control, but we couldn't really break through. When the first goal went in, things became easier for us. It was a great evening for us."

Bayern Munich’s nine unbeaten matches against Benfica in the European Cup/Champions League (won six, drawn three) is the most by a team against an opponent since the tournament began in 1955.

Sane opened the scoring with a 70th-minute free-kick then rounded it off six minutes from time and acknowledged Bayern could have won by an even greater margin.

"I think we played a really, really good game," Sane said.

"Even in the first half. In attack, we could have finished off our chances a little better. But I am really happy with the performance. We had just had to play our game and be patient; in the end it worked out."

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was "sure" Manchester United would beat Atalanta after match-winner Cristiano Ronaldo completed a dramatic Champions League comeback on Wednesday.

Ronaldo was the hero again at Old Trafford, where United overturned a two-goal deficit to stun visiting Atalanta 3-2 on matchday three in Group F.

United trailed 2-0 before the half-hour mark in Manchester after Mario Pasalic and Merih Demiral shocked the Theatre of Dreams.

Reeling after a 4-2 Premier League defeat at Leicester City last time out and just two wins in their previous seven games, the Red Devils were given a glimmer of hope when Marcus Rashford pulled a goal back eight minutes into the second half – the club's 300th strike in all competitions under Solskjaer.

United captain Harry Maguire equalised with 15 minutes remaining before superstar Ronaldo stepped up to complete the fightback nine minutes from time.

On what he said at half-time, Solskjaer told BT Sport: "I said make sure we get the next goal, because then we win the game.

"As long as we don’t concede I was pretty sure we would win the game. It was just about taking chances."

"I thought we played well first half too. Two chances, two goals. It had to stop if we are to survive," Solskjaer said after United rallied from two or more goals down for the third time – no side has done so more often in the Champions League.

"We have a habit of doing this at this club. I thought we played well and they scored a goal out of nothing and then another set-piece. But they never stopped believing and kept going."

"The fans are a big, big part of this club," Solskjaer added. "The singing section here today kept the players going in their belief. That is what you do at Manchester United on a Champions League night."

Solskjaer defended Ronaldo following some criticism that he does not work hard or defend enough for the Premier League giants.

Ronaldo has now scored in three consecutive Champions League games for United for the second time – the 36-year-old five-time Ballon d'Or winner previously doing so in November 2007 en route to lifting the trophy with the Red Devils.

“If anyone wants to criticise him for work rate or attitude, just look at the way he runs around in this game," he said.

Solskjaer has found himself under growing pressure amid United's poor form and performances and when it was put to him whether the squad had played for him midweek, the Norwegian responded: "Don't disrespect the players.

"They played for Man United and they are the luckiest men in the world because they're the ones who get to play for Man United and millions of boys and girls would love to do that."

Thomas Tuchel rallied Chelsea's bit-part players by telling them "the race is on" to prove themselves after Romelu Lukaku and Timo Werner were injured.

Lukaku sustained an ankle injury and Werner hurt his hamstring during the first half of the 4-0 home victory over Malmo in Champions League Group H on Wednesday.

Belgium striker Lukaku was injured by a tackle from Lasse Nielsen that resulted in a penalty Jorginho confidently dispatched to add to Andreas Christensen's opener. 

Kai Havertz replaced Lukaku and scored Chelsea's third before playing a role in another spot-kick for the Blues that was converted by Jorginho. 

Chelsea have five games to come over the next 17 days and Tuchel said there can be no excuses for a decline in results if Lukaku and Werner are sidelined for an extended period. 

"We have a twisted ankle with Romelu and a hamstring injury for Timo, so they will be out for some days, I guess," Tuchel told BT Sport. 

"Normally we're in a good place injury-wise – we had only Christian Pulisic out. But we miss everybody. We have a lot of games to play, a lot of competitions. Now we have to find solutions. No excuses accepted. 

"The two were in good shape and were dangerous and could create and score. Now we need to find solutions and guys who waited for their chance need to step up and prove that they can do the same thing. 

"Whoever it might be, the race is on. The guys who will start against Norwich in the next game have our trust. We will try to find new solutions. 

"Let's stay positive. We won games before without Timo and we won games before without Romelu. We don't want to have these problems too often but these things happen in the season." 

Havertz could now be in line to start against Norwich City in the Premier League on Saturday. 

He said: "I came from the bench, you always have to be ready, it is always tough to come in but I tried to do my best in the second half to score a goal, so it is a nice feeling. 

"Timo said they have to do an MRI tomorrow, they are top-level strikers and I hope it's not too bad for them." 

Harry Maguire expressed his disappointment at Manchester United's defensive work while hailing Cristiano Ronaldo after the Red Devils overturned a two-goal deficit to defeat Atalanta 3-2.

Gian Piero Gasperini's side raced into a two-goal lead inside 29 minutes at Old Trafford – the earliest United have found themselves two goals down at home in the Champions League since October 2012.

It was also the 12th consecutive home game across all competitions the hosts had conceded in – their longest such run since February 1964 (13).

However, Marcus Rashford netted the 300th goal of Solskjaer's tenure to give the Red Devils hope before Harry Maguire levelled things with his first goal in the Champions League.

Ronaldo then scored in his third consecutive game in Europe for United – last doing so in 2007-08 en route to winning the trophy with Alex Ferguson's side – to cap yet another memorable turnaround.

Despite the comeback, Maguire admitted his frustrations at the manner in which his side fell behind as he implored for improvements at the back.

"We definitely do like doing it the hard way in the Champions League," Maguire told BT Sport post-match.

"In the first half, we conceded two bad goals - the quick free-kick for the first and the set play we shouldn’t be conceding from.

"The last few games we've conceded a lot from set-plays, I think that's four in the last four games so we need to sharpen up on that.

"That [conceding from set-pieces] is not good enough for this club. We're working on the formula to be a lot more solid but it's about winning football matches.

"We've shown great togetherness, in the dressing room at half-time after the fans cheered and clapped us off, we gave them the result and the energy that they deserved."

Ronaldo, who also proved the late hero last time out in Europe against Villarreal, delivered once more and Maguire was quick to praise the competition's all-time leading scorer after yet another vital performance.

"I had eyes on it all the way," the centre-back said of Ronaldo's winner.

"I was right behind him. His leap, his timing, it was perfect right in the corner.

"We see it day in, day out in training and in the goals he has scored throughout his career. He has come up with a massive goal for us again in the Champions League."

United face Liverpool and Tottenham in the Premier League before travelling to Atalanta on November 2 with a two-point lead at the top of Group F.

Cristiano Ronaldo once again scored a late winner as Manchester United overturned a two-goal deficit against Atalanta to win 3-2 and move top of Champions League Group F at the halfway point.

Mario Pasalic broke the deadlock after just 15 minutes at Old Trafford, with Merih Demiral heading home to double the blow before the half-hour mark on Wednesday.

Marcus Rashford pulled one back after the break as he scored the 300th goal of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's tenure before Harry Maguire levelled with 15 minutes of normal time remaining.

Ronaldo, who scored a stoppage-time winner against Villarreal, then climbed the highest to cap a memorable comeback and move the Red Devils to the summit.

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