Toronto Star

Unity in Paris, relief in Madrid


The last night of the Champions League group stage began with a display of players united against racism for a second straight evening in Paris.

It ended with business as usual for Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid, who avoided early exits to advance to the knockout rounds. Atalanta and Borussia Monchengla­dbach also advanced to the round of 16.

There were nine games instead of the usual eight Wednesday after the remarkable events 24 hours earlier when Paris Saint-Germain’s game against Istanbul Basaksehir was suspended.

Players on both teams had refused to continue after a fourth official from Romania used a racial insult when referring to a Basaksehir assistant coach, Pierre Webo, who is Black.

They returned to Parc des Princes to resume the game in the 14th minute with replacemen­t match officials from the Netherland­s.

The new refereeing crew joined players in observing the competitio­n anthem before kickoff by taking a knee around the centre circle, while most raised a fist.

“Nothing beats actions. We’re tired of this, we never want to experience this again,” PSG striker Kylian Mbappe said.

When the game restarted, Neymar ensured PSG would finish top of Group H by scoring a hat trick in a 5-1 win. The French champion was already assured of advancing with Leipzig.

Earlier Wednesday, UEFA said it appointed a disciplina­ry inspector to investigat­e the incident. The fourth official, Sebastian Coltescu, risks a ban.

Real Madrid kept its record intact of always advancing from the Champions League group stage by beating Borussia Monchengla­dbach 2-0.

Gladbach fell to second place and stayed there through a nervous few minutes after the final whistle.

The team huddled around a tablet to watch the closing stages of Inter Milan’s 0-0 draw with Shakhtar Donetsk. A goal for either team would have earned a place in the last 16.

Atletico defeated Salzburg 2-0 to join group winner and defending champion Bayern Munich in the knockout rounds.

Canadian Alphonso Davies looked dangerous in his return from injury as Bayern blanked Lokomotiv Moscow 2-0 in Group A. The 20-year-old from Edmonton had been out since tearing ankle ligaments in Bayern’s 5-0 win Oct. 24 over Eintracht Frankfurt.

The game was the 10th in Champions League play for Davies, who ranks fourth among Canadians in that category. Beskitas midfielder Atiba Hutchinson leads with 19 appearance­s followed by Red Star Belgrade goalkeeper Milan Borjan (14) and retired forward Tomasz Radzinski (12).

Davies, who has won 17 caps for Canada with five goals, has become the face of Canadian soccer abroad — along with women’s captain Christine Sinclair. On Tuesday, he was named co-winner of the Star’s Lou Marsh Trophy with Kansas City Chiefs offensive lineman Laurent Duvernay-Tardif.

 ?? JON SUPER THE ASSOCIATED PRESS ?? Manchester City’s Phil Foden, left, battles with Marseille’s Hiroki Sakai on Wednesday.
JON SUPER THE ASSOCIATED PRESS Manchester City’s Phil Foden, left, battles with Marseille’s Hiroki Sakai on Wednesday.

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