Hwang Hee-chan scores in Champions League debut
South Korean Hwang Heechan wasted no time making his mark in the top European club football competition.
In his UEFA Champions League debut, Hwang scored one goal and set up two more for FC Salzburg, as they thrashed the Belgian side Genk 6-2 in Group E action at Stadion Salzburg in Salzburg on Tuesday (local time).
Hwang is just the third South Korean to score in the Champions League, after Park Ji-sung and Son Heung-min.
Salzburg, the Austrian champions, are playing in their first Champions League since 1994. They had fallen in the qualifying rounds in each of the last seven seasons.
With a 19-year-old striker Erling Braut Haaland scoring a hat trick, Salzburg were on the winning end of the highest-scoring Champions League match since Paris Saint-Germain beat Celtic 7-1 in 2017.
Salzburg are undefeated in their 19 home matches in all competitions.
Hwang assisted on Haaland’s second goal of the match in the 34th minute for a 2-0 lead, and two minutes later, Hwang got his first Champions League goal for a 3-0 advantage for his side.
Hwang helped Haaland complete the hat trick with a setup in the 45th and continued to wreak havoc on the Genk defense in the second half of the rout.
Salzburg will take on the defending champions Liverpool at Anfield on Oct. 2. Liverpool suffered a shock 2-0 defeat at the hands of Napoli to open their title defense Tuesday.
Also on Tuesday, South Korean midfielder Lee Kang-in made his Champions League debut for Valencia CF. At 18 years and seven months old, Lee became the youngest South Korean to appear in a Champions League match, when he replaced Rodrigo in the 90th minute against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. Rodrigo scored the lone goal of the match as Valencia prevailed 1-0 in Group H.
Lee had tried to leave Valencia for another club over the summer in search of more playing time, before staying put with the Spanish side. Valencia sacked head coach Marcelino Toral last week and replaced him with Albert Celades, who has played Lee in each of his first two matches so far. (Yonhap)
Napoli beat Liverpool 2-0
NAPLES, Italy (AP) — Liverpool opened its Champions League title defense with a 2-0 loss at Napoli on Tuesday — the latest chapter in what is becoming an intense rivalry between the two attack-minded clubs after also meeting in last season’s group phase.
Dries Mertens converted a penalty eight minutes from the end of an entertaining match after a foul by Andy Robertson on Jose Callejon.
Substitute Fernando Llorente then sealed it in stoppage time — a measure of revenge after playing on the Tottenham side that lost last season’s final to Liverpool.
Last season, Napoli also beat Liverpool 1-0 at home before the English side won by the same score in England — denying Napoli a place in the knockout rounds.
Napoli and Salzburg, which routed Genk 6-2, took the early lead in Group E.
The atmosphere inside the newly renovated Stadio San Paolo was electric from the start as both sides attacked relentlessly from the opening whistle.
Napoli countered Liverpool’s established attacking trio of Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane with a lineup featuring four forwards: Lorenzo Insigne and Jose Callejon on the wings surrounding Dries Mertens and Hirving Lozano.
Salah was on full sprint from kickoff but couldn’t find a way past Napoli’s center back Kalidou Koulibaly.
Liverpool goalkeeper Adrian — in his Champions League debut — denied Fabian Ruiz twice in one action before Lozano headed the second rebound into the net only to be whistled offside.
As dazzling as the offensive display was, the defense was just as impressive.
Joel Matip lunged to head away a cross intended for Lozano that seemed a sure goal then Ruiz sprinted back at the other end to intercept what would have been a tap-in for Salah.
The frantic pace continued, with Firmino heading just wide of the far post from a corner in the 44th.
Possession in the first half was split exactly 50-50.
The fireworks continued immediately after the break when Adrian hung in the air to deny a volley from Mertens with one hand at the far post.
There was a rare defensive mistake when Kostas Manolas gifted the ball to Salah in a great position but Napoli goalkeeper Alex Meret extended to glove the Egypt international’s shot wide.
It was only in the last 15 minutes that the pace slowed, with both teams visibly exhausted on a warm evening.
Then Napoli found the breakthrough after Robertson was adjudged to have tripped Callejon in the area.
Adrian lunged to his left and got a hand on Mertens’ penalty but couldn’t stop it.
In the final minutes, Napoli fans’ whistled so loud every time Liverpool had possession it was deafening, and it seemed to have an effect when Virgil van Dijk gifted the ball to Llorente, who rolled it past Adrian with ease.
Valencia defeat Chelsea 1-0
LONDON (AP) — Rodrigo allowed Valencia to shake off a week of upheaval behind the scenes to clinch a 1-0 victory at Chelsea in the Champions League on Tuesday.
The opening victory in Group H came in only the second game in charge for Albert Celades since replacing Marcelino Garcia Toral, who fell out with owner Peter Lim.
“This was a very hard fought win,” Celades said through a translator. “The players showed a lot of commitment toward not just us the coaching staff but also to the club and fans.”
The winning goal came from a player that Valencia nearly sold to Atletico Madrid in the summer transfer window. Rodrigo was left unchecked to race onto Daniel Parejo’s free kick and volley into the net in the 74th minute at Stamford Bridge.
“I never felt alone, I always felt the players support,” said Celades, a former defensive midfielder for Barcelona and Real Madrid. “We have to make sure the noise outside doesn’t affect us and work on things that will help us win matches.”
Chelsea, meanwhile, has to work on its defense.
Rodrigo’s strike was the 14th goal Chelsea has conceded in the seven games in all competitions since Frank Lampard took charge of the club he won the Champions League with as a player in 2012.
Chelsea fans were given a reason to cheer minutes after conceding, when a penalty was awarded after a VAR review saw referee Cuneyt Cakir go over to the pitchside screen to verify that Fikayo Tomori’s header hit the hand of Daniel Wass.
But it was not usual penalty taker Jorginho or Willian who took the spot kick. After a conversation with Willian, Ross Barkley pointed to his chest before going up to the spot.
And those earlier celebrations were short-lived as Barkley’s kick clipped the crossbar and flew over.
“I wanted to take it,” Willian said. “But he was confident to take it. It is football and he missed the penalty.”
Lampard sought to downplay any issues within the team over the penalty taker, saying Barkley assumed the role when he came off the bench.
“I don’t know what the conversation was,” Lampard said, “but Jorginho and Willian were penalty takers until Ross came on the pitch.”
Chelsea had an early blow when midfielder Mason Mount limped off with an ankle injury only 15 minutes into his Champions League debut, having initially played on after former Arsenal midfielder Francis Coquelin launched his left foot at the midfielder’s right shin.
“It was a shame,” Lampard said. “He’s been playing well and he started this game well.”
Salzburg’s Hwang Hee-chan is in action with KRC Genk’s Sebastien Dewaest during the Champions League match in the Salzburg, Austria.