Big Cup tombola, Liverpool rumblings and a distant screeching sound | Football


An extremely versatile Turkish midfielder who now works as a blazer for his national federation, Hamit Altintop seemed as good a random former footballer as any for Uefa to choose to help conduct the Big Cup round of 16 tombola. What’s more, he’s one half of a set of twins, a state of affairs that meant that if this season’s draw was beset with the same technical glitches that meant last year’s had to be done twice and he started buffering, there was a pretty much like-for-like replacement in his brother, Halil, available to take over.

Luckily, there were no gremlins in the Uefa machine this time around and with the assistance of suave, debonair Uefa mouthpiece Pedro Pinto, Hamit did a sterling job under the beady eye of the organisation’s Deputy General, Giorgio Marchetti, in front of an audience of club representatives featuring former Germany goalkeeper and old Fiver favourite Oliver Khan. Now the CEO of Bayern Munich, Khan managed to remain commendably impassive as his club were drawn against Paris Saint-Germain, even if his plucky German underdogs will go into the tie as outsiders to beat the Qatari-owned juggernaut who find new and ever more amusing ways to exit Big Cup with each passing year.

Speaking of state-owned juggernauts, Manchester City celebrated the release of their bumper balance sheet (which was, depending on the allegiances of several thousand of unqualified Social Media Disgrace accountants, predictably plausible or merited compliments to the chef), by being paired with Red BulRasen-Ballsport Leipzig. Oh the romance! Chelsea will also travel to Germany, but may well be on their third manager of the tournament by the time they visit Dortmund in February.

Elsewhere, Spurs will face Milan in a re-run of the Gennaro Gattuso-Joe Jordan throat-grab derby, while Liverpool’s disquiet at being paired up with Real Madrid for the third time in as many years was such that, according to some reports, their owners Fenway Sports Group immediately went looking for buyers. And yes, you’re right. That screeching noise you could soon hear will be the sound of the Tory-esque U-turns being pulled by thousands of Anfield regulars who have spent the past year looking disapprovingly and tut-tutting sanctimoniously in the direction of Newcastle. Oh, football. Why do you keep making fools of us all?

That Big Cup R16 draw in full: Manchester City v RB Leipzig, Benfica v Club Brugge, Real Madrid v Liverpool, Tottenham Hotspur v Milan, Napoli v Eintracht Frankfurt, Chelsea v Borussia Dortmund, FC Porto v Inter, Bayern Munich v PSG.


“They can’t tackle discrimination. So it shows there is no real intention to change. We spoke to [the social media giants] but you get wishy-washy feedback: ‘Yeah, we’re trying all we can.’ No, you’re not” – Rio Ferdinand talks to Donald McRae about racism, sexuality and mental health in football after making a trilogy of films on those subjects.

Rio Ferdinand
Your man, Rio. Photograph: Linda Nylind/The Guardian

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“The Aston Villa-Manchester United match did not feature a happy ending for the visitors, and a fluke goal from a wayward shot that took a massive deflection offered little consolation. But for a moment, they experienced Shaw shank redemption” – Peter Oh.

“I hate Gareth Bale and Yordan Álvarez. In the span of four hours, they tore out the hearts of us Philadelphia pro sport supporters: Bale to force the MLS Cup shootout and Álvarez to give Houston what became the MLB World Series championship. What looked bright Saturday afternoon turned into depression on Sunday” – JJ Zucal.

“Clearly Big Website’s duty lawyers were doing a Fiver (ie sleeping on the job) when you managed to slip in the reference to squeaky clean Fifa boss kissing the Emir’s [snip – freshly awake Fiver lawyers]” – Dev Kapadia.

“Regarding Mike Turney’s letter (Friday’s letters) of seeing Robbie Savage masquerading as Glenn Hoddle on a door in a Wembley pub. Anyone, in fact everyone, can see that’s Ted Hastings” – Bob Cole (and 1,056 other Line of Duty fans).

Send your letters to And you can always tweet The Fiver via @guardian_sport. Today’s winners of our prizeless letter o’ the day is … Peter Oh.

Marseille beat Lyon and bounce back from crushing Champions League exit | Ligue 1

Marseille were the hosts but not necessarily the favourites in this Olympico – the nickname for matches between Olympique de Marseille and Olympique Lyonnais. They started the game four points above Lyon in the Ligue 1 table, but the visitors had been showing some renewed attacking verve under new manager Laurent Blanc, who replaced Peter Bosz last month and enjoyed an uptick in results after bringing in Jérôme Boateng and Houssem Aouar from the cold.

Lyon had looked more solid in their recent wins over Lille and Montpellier, especially against Paulo Fonseca’s attack-minded Lille team. A win at the Vélodrome would have taken them within a point of Marseille, and above Lille on goal difference, putting them within touching distance of the top six before the World Cup, no mean feat given their abject run of results in September.

While Lyon’s form had improved, though, Marseille’s own results had taken a nosedive. Igor Tudor’s side had won just one of their previous nine matches – and that was against a Sporting side who finished the game with nine men. Their confidence must have been sapped even further after their heartbreaking defeat to Spurs in the Champions League in midweek.

Marseille produced an enterprising display and took the lead in the first half, but the night went from bad to worse as Spurs equalised through Clément Lenglet before winning the game in the 95th minute thanks to a goal from Pierre-Emile Højberg. At one point in the evening Marseille were on course to reach the last-16 stage of the Champions League, but by the end of the night they had been knocked out of Europe completely. Given their charitable draw, finishing last in the group was an embarrassment. And, to make matters worse, their league form has suffered while they have been competing on two fronts.

The elimination put pressure on Tudor. The Croatian’s bold decisions to bench Dimitri Payet, Bamba Dieng and Gerson looked more suspect by the minute and, with a dangerous Monaco team to come next weekend, the former Verona boss needed a result against Lyon. L’Équipe’s headline for their match preview put it bluntly: “Maximum Pressure.”

Marseille players react to their elimination from the Champions League.
Marseille players react to their elimination from the Champions League. Photograph: Valerio Pennicino/Uefa/Getty Images

Lyon have had Marseille’s number in recent years, even doing the double over them last year despite finishing well below Marseille’s second place. On the night, Tudor was given a rough welcome by fans but, to his credit, he kept to his principles tactically and personnel-wise.

The match was a scrappy affair, with Samuel Gigot’s goal towards the end of the first half enough to secure all three points for Marseille. There was only one booking, but neither side – urged on by a baying Vélodrome crowd – was willing to give much in the duels. It was a deserved win for the hosts, who moved to within a point of the top three after Rennes could only draw in Lille.

Tudor was quick to say it had been a team effort, while also reminding the media that Marseille have not had the rub of the green lately. “It was an important, special match, especially in a period when we haven’t really got what we deserved,” he said. “We really dominated in the first half. We had a second half where we showed plenty of heart. It was difficult. We had to fight for it. There was a desire to take the three points at all costs – among the starters as well as the players who came on.”

Marseille’s wing-backs, Nuno Tavares and Jonathan Clauss, were both eager to get forward. Clauss is usually the more natural outlet but Tavares – who is on loan from Arsenal – made several fine crosses and added balance to the attack. The player deserving of the most praise, however, was unquestionably Alexis Sánchez.

The club’s decision to sign him in the summer was pilloried by some as he seemed to be on the wane after falling out of favour at Inter. He has, however, become a fulcrum for the team both on and off the pitch, winning the hearts of the Vélodrome faithful, even as most of them pine for Payet’s return to the side. His unending running unsettled a Lyon defence that looked uncomfortable playing in a back four for the first time under Blanc. The 33-year-old showed admirable effort, battling hard to win headers and drag defenders out of position. Like Lionel Messi, Sánchez looked to be in decline last season before adopting a slightly different position and improving this year.

The frustration of Marseille’s elimination from Europe will still sting, but there is plenty of football to play this season domestically in France. With the resolute Tudor and the diligent Sánchez leading the way, Marseille should return to that competition sooner rather than later.

Quick Guide

Ligue 1 results


Lorient 1-2 PSG

Clermont 1-1 Montpellier

Nice 1-0 Brest

Reims 1-0 Nantes

Toulouse 0-2 Monaco

Lille 1-1 Rennes

Marseille 1-0 Lyon

Ajaccio 4-2 Strasbourg

Angers 1-2 Lens

Troyes 1-1 Auxerre

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Talking points

Neymar was excellent for PSG in their 2-1 win over Lorient.
Neymar was excellent for PSG in their 2-1 win over Lorient. Photograph: Stéphane Mahé/Reuters

After winning eight of their first 10 matches this season, Lorient have recently been on a bad run, failing to win any of their last four. Injuries to top scorer Terem Moffi and influential midfielder Laurent Abergel have played their part, with the team also realising that competing with the top teams in the league is a bridge too far. Playing PSG – who were missing Lionel Messi and were coming off a midweek match in the Champions League – at home gave Lorient a chance to right the ship. Neymar had other ideas though, scoring the opener and assisting Danilo Pereira for the second as the visitors won 2-1. The Brazilian has scored or set up a goal in all but one of the league matches he has started this season. If Brazil were not already World Cup favourites, his form makes a convincing argument.

Rennes continued their stunning unbeaten run with a 1-1 draw at Lille. Their goal came from a soft penalty given against Jonathan Bamba on Christopher Wooh. How Bamba was left to mark a player eight inches taller than him is more of the problem but, with Steve Mandanda on form, the Bretons secured an ugly point against another European hopeful, despite the absence of Martin Terrier. The Champions League was just beyond their reach last season but, with an extended break and a deeper squad, could Bruno Génésio drag his side back into Europe’s top competition?

Monaco won 2-0 at Toulouse to move within a point of the top three. Manager Philippe Clement set about improving his team’s defence after their 4-3 defeat to Lille last month and they have now kept two clean sheets in a row. They are moving in the right direction as they prepare to face Marseille on Sunday.

Champions League last-16 draw: tie-by-tie analysis | Champions League

Liverpool v Real Madrid

Last month, Real Madrid’s president, Florentino Pérez, advocating for a Super League, lamented that his club have faced Liverpool in just nine competitive games. His wish for more has been granted sooner than he expected and perhaps would have liked. Real beat Liverpool reasonably comfortably in last season’s final and had few issues topping a relatively straightforward group, while Liverpool have suffered a miserable start to the season. With Mohamed Salah returning to form, though, Jürgen Klopp’s side may have improved by February and, out of the title race, can afford to focus on Europe. Aurélien Tchouaméni has joined Real and Eduardo Camavinga was beginning to make an impact last season, but the sense remains that the post-Casemiro midfield is yet to be really tested.

Winners Liverpool.

RB Leipzig's André Silva is congratulated after scoring against Manchester City last season
RB Leipzig’s André Silva is congratulated after scoring against Manchester City last season. Photograph: Ronny Hartmann/AFP/Getty Images

RB Leipzig v Manchester City

These teams met in last season’s group stage, City winning 6-3 at the Etihad before a 2-1 defeat in Germany, with qualification long since secured. In the first of those games, Leipzig were managed by Jesse Marsch; in the second by the caretaker Achim Beierlorzer. Since then Domenico Tedesco has come and gone and now, under Marco Rose, there has been a significant upturn. Saturday’s 3-0 win at Hoffenheim extended Leipzig’s unbeaten run to 11 games and they have been prolific in that time. The front four of André Silva, Dominik Szoboszlai, Christian Nkunku and Timo Werner, who should be back from his ankle injury by February, will test City on the counter.

Winners Manchester City.

Club Brugge v Benfica

Club Brugge were the great surprise of the group stage, winning their first three games without conceding a goal. They secured progress with a 0-0 draw at Atlético Madrid, but the heavy home defeat to Porto that ultimately cost them top spot perhaps gave a truer impression of their abilities: no pushovers, well-organised, but essentially limited. Benfica, meanwhile, ended the group stage in joyous form, with Rafa Silva and João Mario playing probably the best football of their careers. There may be defensive concerns but, even more than the 6-1 win at Maccabi Haifa that meant they topped the group, the 4-3 win over Juventus, when they should have won far more convincingly, demonstrated just how dangerous Roger Schmidt’s side can be.

Winners Benfica.

Milan v Tottenham

Tottenham have not lost to Milan in their four previous meetings, a Peter Crouch goal giving them a 1-0 win at San Siro in their last tie in 2010-11, but how good they are at the moment is anyone’s guess. Hampered by injuries to forwards, with a weird inability to play in the first half (particularly when Dejan Kulusevski is absent) and a dislocation between the midfield and the forward line, their results have been rather better than performances so far this season. The Italian champions have suffered only two defeats in Serie A and have in Rafael Leão one of the more exciting forwards in Europe, but they were desperately poor in losing twice to Chelsea during the group stages, with injuries offer only some excuse.

Winners Tottenham.

André-Frank Zambo Anguissa celebrates scoring Napoli’s second goal in their 4-1 win against Liverpool in September
André-Frank Zambo Anguissa celebrates scoring Napoli’s second goal in their 4-1 win against Liverpool in September. Photograph: Francesco Pecoraro/Getty Images

Eintracht Frankfurt v Napoli

Top of Serie A, unbeaten domestically and hugely impressive in the group stage, Napoli may be the most serious Italian challengers since Juventus decided five league titles in five seasons just wasn’t good enough and got rid of Max Allegri. They are playing fast, dynamic football under Luciano Spalletti and, after the failure of Italy, Nigeria and Georgia to qualify for the World Cup, have an unusual number of players who should be refreshed by a winter break. But unfancied as they may be under Oliver Glasner, Eintracht Frankfurt have become masters of the European away leg. Their Europa League success last season featured victories at Real Betis, Barcelona and West Ham, and this season they won on the road against Marseille and, when they absolutely needed it, Sporting.

Winners Napoli.

Borussia Dortmund v Chelsea

After a shaky start, progress from the group ended up being straightforward for Chelsea, but this is a club still undergoing transition as the recent league defeats to Brighton and Arsenal have shown. There were problems to be addressed in the squad even before the complications of sanctions, and recent injuries have exposed the imbalances that Graham Potter will need to resolve. With Sevilla in miserable form, Borussia Dortmund qualified for the last 16 easily enough, thanks in no small part to a 4-1 win in Spain, a game that highlighted just how important Jude Bellingham has become to Alen Terzic’s side. He may be only 19 but only he, Julian Brandt and Nico Schlotterback have played all 13 league games this season.

Winners Chelsea.

Internazionale v Porto

Porto trail Benfica by eight points domestically but they showed admirable resolve to bounce back from successive defeats at the start of the group stage to qualify with four wins in a row. After suffering a knee injury a month ago, Pepe is a doubt for the World Cup but Porto should have his experience back at the heart of the defence for the last 16. This has not been an easy season domestically for Internazionale and they were twice well-beaten by Bayern Munich, but two fine counterattacking performances against Barcelona ensured progress to the knockout phase for only the second time in the past decade. If Romelu Lukaku can rediscover his form and fitness, his partnership with Lautaro Martínez represents a major threat.

Winners Porto.

PSG’s Keylor Navas concedes the only goal of the 2020 Champions League final to Bayern Munich's Kingsley Coman
PSG’s Keylor Navas concedes the only goal of the 2020 Champions League final to Bayern Munich’s Kingsley Coman (second right). Photograph: Miguel A Lopes/AP

Paris Saint-Germain v Bayern Munich

For most of the group stage Paris Saint-Germain seemed to be cruising to top spot, but they were undone at the last by Benfica’s flurry away to Maccabi Haifa and are punished with a repeat of the 2020 final. In a sense they fell into a trap they had dug themselves by drawing at home against Benfica the day after stories broke of Kylian Mbappé’s supposed unhappiness at the club. The competing egos will always be the biggest challenge for a PSG coach. Bayern are top of the Bundesliga again, but four draws and a defeat at Augsburg have led to a certain amount of chuntering about Julian Nagelsmann, despite six wins out of six in the Champions League. His record in big European games is not brilliant.

Winners Bayern Munich.

Liverpool to face Real Madrid in last 16 of the Champions League | Champions League

Liverpool and Real Madrid have been drawn to face each other in the last-16 of the Champions League, bringing together the teams who met in last season’s final in Paris.

The first leg will take place at Anfield in February and for Jürgen Klopp’s side the tie represents an opportunity to avenge May’s 1-0 defeat to Real in the French capital , an encounter that was marred by organisational chaos which led to the kick-off being delayed and hundreds of Liverpool supporters fearing for their safety.

Manchester City, meanwhile, have again been handed a favourable tie, this time against the German side RB Leipzig, while Tottenham face Milan, the Serie A champions, and Chelsea take on Borussia Dortmund.

Elsewhere there is an eye-catching meeting between Paris Saint-Germain and Bayern Munich, the French and German champions respectively.

The other last-16 ties see Eintracht Frankfurt face Napoli, Club Brugge face Benfica and Internazionale take on Porto.

The first legs are scheduled for 14/15/21/22 February, with the second legs on 7/8/14/15 March.

PSG win at Juventus but Benfica top group after thrashing Maccabi Haifa | Champions League

A second-half goal by the defender Nuno Mendes earned Paris Saint-Germain a 2-1 win at Juventus in the Champions League on Wednesday but Benfica topped Group H thanks to more away goals scored in all games.

Benfica thrashed Maccabi Haifa 6-1 in the other group game and the Portuguese and French teams ended level on 14 points, having drawn their two head-to-heads 1-1 and with a goal difference of nine.

Kylian Mbappé broke the deadlock in Turin in the 13th minute when he received the ball from Leo Messi and dodged through Juve’s defence to unleash a low shot inside the far post.

Juventus levelled shortly before half time after Juan Cuadrado sent the ball into the six-yard box with a diving header and the defender Leonardo Bonucci tapped the ball in for an equaliser.

PSG sealed the win in the 69th minute when Mbappé found Nuno Mendes with an excellent cross between two Juve players for the substitute to score within one minute of coming on.

Juventus secured the Europa League spot, finishing third on three points. Maccabi finished bottom of the standings with three points after their defeat by Benfica.

A stoppage-time goal by João Mário completed a 6-1 win for Benfica, with goals from Gonçalo Ramos, Petar Musa, Álex Grimaldo, Rafa Silva and Henrique Araújo.

In Group E, the French forward Olivier Giroud scored two goals and created another as Milan crushed Salzburg 4-0 to reach the knockout stages for the first time since 2013-14.

Needing to avoid defeat in their final group match to reach the last 16 against an Austrian side gunning for the win that would take them through, Giroud settled any nerves around the San Siro with an early header into the bottom corner.

The veteran expertly headed across for Rade Krunic to make it two 43 seconds into the second half and Giroud put the game to bed in the 57th minute, drilling home after fine work from Rafael Leão.

A solo goal from Junior Messias in stoppage time capped an excellent night for Milan, who secured second spot in Group E behind Chelsea. Salzburg will go into the Europa League after finishing third.

Christopher Nkunku of RB Leipzig controls the ball against Shakhtar Donetsk.
Christopher Nkunku scores in RB Leipzig’s win over Shakhtar Donetsk. Photograph: DeFodi Images/Getty Images

In Warsaw, Christopher Nkunku scored one goal and set up another as RB Leipzig crushed Shakhtar Donetsk 4-0 to qualify for the last-16, while the Ukrainian side dropped down to the Europa League.

Leipzig, who needed only a point to advance to the knockout stage, took the lead in the 10th minute when Timo Werner’s shot was saved by the Shakhtar goalkeeper Anatoliy Trubin but Nkunku was on hand to slot home the rebound.

Five minutes into the second half, Mohamed Simakan headed the ball back into the box after David Raum’s cross and it fell to André Silva, who doubled the visitors’ advantage by prodding home at the near post from a tight angle.

Quick Guide

Champions League draw


When is it? Monday, 11am GMT, at Uefa’s headquarters in Switzerland.

Seeded teams Napoli, Porto, Bayern Munich, Tottenham, Chelsea, Real Madrid, Manchester City, Benfica.

Unseeded teams Liverpool, Club Brugge, Internazionale, Eintracht Frankfurt, Milan, RB Leipzig, Borussia Dortmund, Paris Saint-Germain.

Each seeded team will be drawn against one of the eight group runners-up. No side can face a side from the group they were in, or a team from their own country.

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Nkunku kept his composure to set up Dominik Szoboszlai on the right with an audacious flick just after the hour, and the Hungarian winger rounded the goalkeeper Trubin before firing into the unguarded net.

Dani Olmo, as a substitute for Szoboszlai, piled more misery on Shakhtar moments after entering the game, taking a free-kick short to Kevin Kampl before cutting back inside and whipping a shot into the far corner in the 68th minute, with his effort deflecting in off Shakhtar’s Valerii Bondar.

Leipzig finished second in Group D on 12 points, six ahead of Shakhtar in third. The holders, Real Madrid, retained top spot with 13 points after their 5-1 home win against the bottom side Celtic.

Joy for Rico Lewis as Manchester City recover to see off Sevilla | Champions League

Rico Lewis should long remember a first ever Manchester City start because the boy from Bury fired in a memorable equaliser to become at 17 years old and 346 days the second-youngest Englishman to score in the Champions League.

Lewis, on the books at the club since he was eight, followed this with a hand-over-mouth celebration that suggested shock at registering. The goal teemed with intent, rifled in from close range, and was precisely what City needed on an evening when they struggled to burn along on all cylinders as they often do.

It came on 52 minutes. Their second arrived 17 from the end when Julián Álvarez, deputising for the injured Erling Haaland, ran onto Kevin De Bruyne’s superb through ball and finished before, a little later, the Argentinean teed up Riyad Mahrez for the third.

City had won Group G anyway but this result further casts them as who to avoid in Monday’s last-16 draw, particularly as they stuttered until the closing phase.

In driving rain Cole Palmer struck a sighter that sailed over Yassine Bounou’s bar, the youngster played in by Jack Grealish after the visiting goalkeeper fluffed a clearance straight to him.

City had Lewis at right-back in what was his full debut. He dropped smoothly into the Guardiola way, tucking inside to help flood the midfield against an opponent third-bottom in La Liga who had enjoyed victory three times all term.

Guardiola, too, was instantly into his familiar in-game, Mr Intense routine from his near-permanent technical area vantage point, barking orders over to Sergio Gómez regarding how the left-back should, too, rotate in-field.

City, muted throughout the half, finally threatened once more when Phil Foden’s curving free-kick clattered off Rúben Dias’s frame and skidded wide. A solitary Álvarez flick was the centre-forward’s sole act as his teammates struggled to create for Haaland’s stand-in: when City upped gear they illustrated how they might. Foden collected from Stefan Ortega inside his half, pirouetted, and those in blue raced forward in a move that ended with Grealish finding Foden again though his effort was blocked.

Now, Jorge Sampaoli’s men broke quickly and suddenly Rafa Mir was sliding a cross-shot at Ortega from the right that required the German’s right hand to palm out. Mir, a little later, spurned a near-range header in what was a similar profligate manner to how Lewis had earlier sprayed wide: each should have tested the opposing keeper.

Ilkay Gündogan’s radar was calibrated more precisely when shooting following a one-two with Foden but a deflection pinged the ball out for a corner from which Mahrez should have tested the shaky Bounou rather than volleying high. These misses were soon dearly rued as City conceded amateurishly: Isco floated in a corner from the right and Gómez allowed Mir a free header and he steered past Ortega into the latter’s top left corner.

Julián Álvarez puts City in front.
Julián Álvarez puts City in front. Photograph: MB Media/Getty Images

Sevilla, with zero to lose, were operating a high-pressing 3-4-3 that, combined with City’s lack of fizz, had them squarely in the contest. In a bid to try and inject energy into his team Guardiola scolded Dias while waving arms at the centre-back. The fruits of this were a Mahrez dance along the right and a blocked-off Grealish effort. But lacking, still, was an real menace plus the serial pulling apart of the Spaniards that is City’s calling card when in optimum rhythm.

As the interval neared, Guardiola surely prepared choice words to kickstart his men because, while this was a dead rubber, the Catalan hates to lose.

What he definitely did do was action a rejig: taking off Grealish for Rodri, his No 1 midfield fulcrum, with Foden moving wide and Gündogan shuffling up one central position to occupy the latter’s previous berth.

Two attempts – via Foden and Gómez – marked some early second half promise and, following a Palmer mis-control, City were level courtesy of Lewis’s strike.

Álvarez, pouncing on a loose ball near the D, slipped him in and from a testing angle on the right he smashed past Bounou.

Cue sheer and understandable delight from Lewis, his teammates, Guardiola and the home faithful and, at last, City were a whir of blue, pouring through Sevilla, as when Mahrez’s buccaneering run threatened their second.

Guardiola sent for more cavalry: Bernardo Silva’s trickery superseding Gündogan’s more simpler offering but at the sight of a rudimentary Foden punt towards Álvarez the manager’s disbelief had him blowing out cheeks.

His side’s firmer control was more pleasing, the ball being tapped about with ease as a way to dismantle Sevilla was sought. In this, Guardiola added the imperious Kevin De Bruyne plus Joshua Wilson-Esbrand, for the 19-year-old’s second senior appearance.

De Bruyne’s impact was instantaneous, creating for Álvarez, while Wilson-Esbrand’s involvement featured a Guardiola rollicking.

City roll on: no-one will wish to face them.

Denis Zakaria scores on debut to edge Chelsea to win against Dinamo Zagreb | Champions League

Chelsea’s defeat in Dinamo Zagreb signalled the end of Thomas Tuchel’s tenure but Graham Potter’s relatively smooth start to life at Stamford Bridge was consolidated by their home victory over the Croatian champions.

The Premier League club overcame a troubled start in the Champions League to safely top their group – after back-to-back victories against Milan – and this win, albeit with little in the way of jeopardy, was the required response after Saturday’s drubbing at Brighton.

Potter may have been fearing the worst though after Bruno Petkovic’s early header raised the possibility of an unlikely double for Zagreb. Chelsea gathered themselves and responded, with Raheem Sterling scoring a timely equaliser after a goal drought stretching back to the middle of September.

Denis Zakaria crowned his debut for Chelsea by scoring the first-half winner. The hosts had further opportunities to increase the lead but were largely untroubled, after the inauspicious start, in closing the group stage with a fourth victory.

Zakaria was handed his first appearance for Chelsea with the Juventus loanee starting in midfield. Édouard Mendy made his first start since the beginning of September, with Kepa Arrizabalaga suffering an injury during the heavy defeat at Brighton on Saturday.

Dinamo Zagreb’s passionate followers were certainly making themselves heard, with a raucous noise from behind the goal despite their team propping up the group.

The Zagreb fans could not have envisioned a better start at Stamford Bridge, with their team stunning Chelsea after just seven minutes. Sadegh Moharrami floated in a deep cross and César Azpilicueta could only nudge the ball back into danger, off the top of his head, with Petkovic pouncing to plant a header past Mendy.

Chelsea were clearly rattled by their poor start and the hosts struggled to make any headway in the opening stages. Their first sight of goal arrived in the 15th minute, with Kai Havertz providing the delivery but Sterling blasted his effort wide.

Sterling made no mistake with his next opportunity. Jorginho offloaded to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and the striker backheeled the ball into the England forward’s path for a low shot into the corner of the net.

Kalidou Koulibaly spurned an opportunity, with the towering defender heading over the bar from a Chelsea corner. The hosts went close again from Havertz’s cross but Sterling could only send his half-volley harmlessly over.

Chelsea’s Raheem Sterling equalises against Dinamo Zagreb.
Raheem Sterling levels for Chelsea in the first half against Dinamo Zagreb. Photograph: Peter Cziborra/Action Images/Reuters

But Chelsea’s next attack paid off with Mason Mount cutting the ball back and Zakaria’s low strike crept into the net, despite the desperate attempt to block the effort on the line by Moharrami. Zakaria’s patience paid off after his long wait to play for Chelsea following his summer move to England.

Mendy was called into action at the start of the second half with the goalkeeper forced to parry Josip Sutalo’s downward header. At the other end, Aubameyang was desperately unlucky after cutting inside and curling a long-range strike against the upright. Chelsea were threatening to open up their tiring opponents and Aubameyang released Ben Chilwell but the left-back’s powerful strike hit the side netting.

With the leaders Arsenal visiting on Sunday, Potter utilised his bench with Conor Gallagher and Armando Broja introduced to the attack in place of Havertz and the lively Aubameyang. Zakaria’s debut ended prematurely after he picked up a knock and was replaced by Ruben Loftus-Cheek.

Mount almost extended Chelsea’s lead from a free-kick on the left edge of the area but Dominik Livakovic reacted sharply to tip the ball around the post. Thiago Silva came off the bench and the defender missed a glaring chance late on when he sidefooted wide from a free-kick. Chelsea were denied a third goal in injury time after Gallagher’s close-range effort was parried by Livakovic. Chilwell pulled up with a leg injury late on to raise concern for Chelsea and England.

The rain hammered down in the closing stages but it could not dampen the spirit of the travelling fans as they raucously bellowed out songs despite their team’s exit from Europe. For Chelsea, much tougher challenges lie ahead with Monday’s draw likely to provide a stronger examination for Potter’s team.

Celtic’s Champions League campaign ends with Real Madrid humiliation | Champions League

Celtic missed a penalty and conceded from two as their Champions League campaign ended with a 5-1 defeat. Luka Modric and Rodrygo scored from the spot after two handball decisions before Josip Juranovic saw his effort from 12 yards saved.

Second-half goals from Marco Asensio, Vinícius Júnior and Federico Valverde took the game well beyond Celtic but the visitors created a number of chances and substitute Jota scored with one of their 14 attempts at goal as he curled home a brilliant free-kick.

With RB Leipzig earlier beating Shakhtar Donetsk in Warsaw, Real needed a win to clinch top place in Group F against a Celtic side who had lost any hope of dropping into the Europa League when they were held by Shakhtar last week.

Joe Hart led Celtic in the absence of the injured Callum McGregor and Cameron Carter-Vickers, whose place was taken by Carl Starfelt for the Swede’s first appearance since damaging his knee against Rangers two months ago.

The first half was a tale of penalty kicks and summed up Celtic’s European campaign. They had made a lively start but a reverse pass opened them up and Asensio’s mis-kicked shot hit the arm of Moritz Jenz. The referee, Stéphanie Frappart, immediately pointed to the spot and Modric sent Hart the wrong waydespite the goalkeeper going to Juranovic, Modric’s teammate for Croatia, for advice.

Celtic’s Greg Taylor shows his disappointment.
Celtic’s Greg Taylor shows his disappointment. Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

The holders doubled their lead in the 21st minute after a VAR-assisted penalty. Hart had saved well from Vinícius before Rodrygo’s shot struck the arm of Matt O’Riley. The shot was taken from two yards away from O’Riley and was going well wide but Frappart gave a penalty and booked the Celtic midfielder after watching a replay.

Celtic’s 35th-minute penalty came after Liel Abada skinned Ferland Mendy and was then chopped down. Juranovic had scored all five of his previous penalties for the Scottish champions but his powerful strike was a good height for Thibaut Courtois to parry.

The visitors had earlier squandered a number of decent opportunities. Kyogo Furuhashi hit Daizen Maeda’s low cross wide on the stretch when Abada was well placed and unmarked behind him. Reo Hatate shot over, Furuhashi hit an effort straight at Courtois after again being set up by Maeda and the goalkeeper made a good stop from Hatate’s long-range strike.

The difference in quality between the teams was evident from two incidents early in the second half. Asensio produced an excellent first-time finish from Dani Carjaval’s cutback in the 51st minute. At the other end, Aaron Mooy took a poor touch after being set up in the Real area.

The hosts went four up in the 61st minute when Vinícius got goal-side of Starfelt and flicked home Valverde’s low cross.

Ange Postecoglou made a triple substitution for Celtic and they were all involved as Real again survived some pressure. Sead Haksabanovic’s cross set up Giorgos Giakoumakis but he shot straight at Courtois and Hatate’s weak follow-up was blocked before the goalkeeper saved David Turnbull’s powerful drive.

Again the difference in finishing was displayed when Valverde swept home from 22 yards in the 71st minute before O’Riley came close from a similar chance.

Celtic continued pushing for a goal, leaving themselves exposed on the counterattack at times, and Courtois denied Jota twice but the goalkeeper was finally beaten by the winger’s free-kick in the 84th minute.

Harry Kane hopes latest Spurs fightback can prove turning point | Tottenham Hotspur

Harry Kane put it as the pros tend to put it: heavy on understatement, a disappointing lack of drama. “There were a few words said by a few people,” the Tottenham striker said as he reflected on what went on during half-time as his team trailed 1-0 at Marseille, their Champions League hopes in the balance.

As ever, it was easy to read between the lines, to feel the emotion of the moment, the frustration, possibly even the anger. Because yet again, for the sixth game in a row, Spurs had not turned up in the first half.

Kane said the gist of the messaging on Tuesday night involved the need for greater aggression and intensity. With Antonio Conte stuck in the stands as he served a ban for his red card against Sporting last week – the manager went through all manner of internal agonies – it was left to his assistants, Cristian Stellini and Ryan Mason, to provide the direction. The captain, Hugo Lloris, too.

Over the lifespan of a season there are always turning points, or at least the desire to locate them, and this certainly felt like one. Spurs brought the aggression upon the restart, pushing higher, making runs ahead of the ball, taking responsibility and playing as if they meant it.

The game swung when Clément Lenglet glanced in Ivan Perisic’s 54th-minute free-kick and despite a couple of late scares Spurs were value for their win and progress as group leaders, which was secured by Pierre-Emile Højbjerg’s last-gasp breakaway. Had they lost they would have been pressed into the Europa League.

Clément Lenglet equalises at Marseille to start Spurs’ comeback
Clément Lenglet equalises at Marseille to start Spurs’ comeback. Photograph: Chris Ricco/Uefa/Getty Images

Then again radical turnarounds after focused half-time chats have become the new normal at Spurs. They beat Everton in the middle of last month after going in at 0-0 and after blowing out entirely at Manchester United they almost got something against Newcastle after trailing 2-0 at the interval. They came back to draw against Sporting, having been 1-0 down at half-time, and were unlucky not to win before they stormed back to beat Bournemouth on Saturday, having trailed 1-0 at the break and then 2-0.

The problem has been an inability to balance caution with risk and Spurs found it particularly difficult on a wild night in Marseille when they knew that a draw would have been enough to qualify, most likely as runners-up. It is often said that the end of the first half is the worst time to concede but Chancel Mbemba’s 45th-minute header might weirdly have been a good thing for Spurs.

“It’s always hard to come away from home in a tough atmosphere, knowing that a draw gets you through,” Kane said. “It’s never easy to come out and go full throttle because you could end up being 2-0 down in 10 minutes and then you’re in a hole.

“We’ve got to find a balance between dropping and pressing. At the moment, we’re just dropping and sitting too deep. In the second half, we went man-for-man and took a bit more risk. We need to just find a little more patience when we are dropping and then being able to get out of that deep block and press. It is what we try to do but we’re just not quite executing it well enough.”

Kane talked about how there was no panic at half-time, partly because the team had been there before and more frequently than they would like. He stressed it was vital not to go 2-0 down, as they had against Newcastle – lessons were learned from that, he said – and there was a point about Spurs’ excellent stamina, a legacy of the late and much-loved fitness coach Gian Piero Ventrone.

“We’re a team that always feels like we’re going to get chances, especially in the second half of games when teams get tired,” Kane said. “Fitness-wise we’re a really strong team so we feel like we can always come strong in the second-half.”

It sounded a little reductive on one level and it even evoked the memory of Muhammad Ali’s rope-a-dope strategy. Are Spurs giving their opponents a false sense of security, luring them in to punch themselves out? It is game management but not as we know it.

The main thing was that it worked against Marseille and Kane can feel a spring in his step before the World Cup in Qatar, which kicks off on 20 November. He will carry England’s hopes as the captain and talisman.

Kane was brilliant in the second half against Marseille, even though he knew he should have put away one of his chances. You could feel that from his rueful smiles. He was a strong outlet, getting his team up the pitch, linking the play with lovely passes and driving into the box.

Pierre-Emile Højbjerg celebrates with Harry Kane after scoring a late winner Spurs just about deserved.
Pierre-Emile Højbjerg celebrates with Harry Kane after scoring a late winner Spurs just about deserved. Photograph: Tottenham Hotspur FC/Getty Images

“It was really important [to reach the last 16] just before the World Cup,” he said. “If we’d have gone out, it would have been a real sting because you know you’re coming back from the World Cup and playing Europa League and it’s just not the same feeling.”

Kane returned to the night before the Marseille tie when local ultras set off fireworks over the Spurs hotel, trying to disrupt them. They exploded at 1.30am and 4.30am. “We expected it,” he said. “We were told the fireworks might happen. I woke up on the first lot but the second lot – I was fast asleep thankfully.”

Rivals have been warned. If they are going to take shots at Kane, they had better make them count. Because he will be back. Spurs will be back.

Tottenham are through to the last 16, but does it have to be this hard? | Champions League

Never really in doubt was it? Except, of course, for all those moments in the opening 45 minutes when it looked wholly and entirely in doubt, as Tottenham produced a mind‑numbingly cautious first half in Marseille but still had enough drive to secure what felt by the end like a pointlessly painful victory.

Three points put them top of Group D, in the hat for whatever might happen in that strange, distant place known as the second half of the season. And whatever the manner of victory, this is a significant moment.

Failing to make it through this group would have been a devastating blow: financially, but also in terms of heft and lustre. For Antonio Conte there is the issue of basic relevance, of still being a player in this thing. Spurs are third in the league and into the knockout stages. Their passage here was tricky, with key players missing and Conte glowering on from the stands.

This is tangible progress. Perhaps the sight of Pierre-Emile Højbjerg, in agony, drained, beside himself after slotting a spectacular last-second winning goal might even offer a note of ignition to the season.

Is it enough though? Spurs are also the 10th richest football club in the world. And this victory will raise questions too, mainly some basic notions of style and intent, about how exactly Spurs want to do this, what they want their football to feel like.

Conte is a managerial paradox in his own right. Here is a charismatic, vibrant, glitzy presence, whose teams exist in a fiercely controlled state of caution; whose own wild touchline gymnastics are like a mocking counter-commentary on the rigidly drilled nature of his football.

How exactly does this act of vanity work? At the very least, does it have to be this hard? The Stade Vélodrome is a cauldron-ish place, all son et lumière and theatrical waves of noise. But Marseille are not an intimidating team, fifth in Ligue 1 right now and bottom of Group B at start of play.

Son Heung-min is helped off the pitch in Marseille
Son Heung-min is helped off the pitch in a first half where Spurs failed to utilise the striker Photograph: Christophe Simon/AFP/Getty Images

This was a strikingly even group on matchday six, in part because it also wasn’t a very good group. None of these teams are actual champions. Spurs are the only one currently in the top three of their domestic league.

So this was a night for being active from the start, for forcing the moment. Tottenham, well, Tottenham sat deep in their flat back five, three midfielders in front. This is the way of this team. They want to play less football, not more, to win by counterthrust, by playing just enough football and no more. Is this really how this thing works now?

Conte did do something unusual, starting with inverted wing‑backs, Ryan Sessegnon on the right, Ivan Perisic on the left. The net effect was to amplify the threat outside, most notably on Sessegnon’s side. And Spurs’ intentions seemed obvious enough in a dreadful first half. Make the game boring. Take the football out of this. A foul, a stoppage, dead ends, stubbed toes. This is all good. Their greatest comfort at that stage was the bluntness of Marseille’s final pass.

Spurs lost Son Heung-min, shaken after a violent aerial challenge, although he had at that point completed one pass in 28 minutes on the pitch. And once again they managed the odd trick of being cautious, deep, double-banked, but also oddly porous and brittle. Is this a thing worth sharing with Europe’s elite teams? Where does it hope to go? Finally Marseille scored. Chancel Mbemba’s header was a lovely thing.

Spurs’ dithering at the corner less so.

And through this there was a familiar sadness about watching Harry Kane in this team. He roams across those spaces, looks for stray balls. It’s just a kind of scavenging existence, living off your wits, pushing that trolley across an empty landscape. Early on Son picked up the ball, ran forward, saw only Kane surrounded by white shirts, then just turned and ran back – towards what exactly? – before finding himself surrounded.

But Tottenham changed, abruptly, as the second half started. The wing‑backs had switched to their stronger sides. The midfield played with more aggression. Spurs were kind-of transformed. That is, they looked like a football team here to show something of themselves. There was even something agreeable in Clément Lenglet scoring the equaliser, excellent on the night, delighted with his moment and, let’s face it, a quiz question in the making in years to come. Spurs’ past nine goals have all come in the second half. This feels like an oversight, or a misreading of the rules.

The first half also exists. It is allowed.

From there the second half was gripping, but gripping in a way that shouldn’t have been required. When Spurs passed the ball and showed attacking ambition it was clear Marseille were there for the taking.

Rodrigo Bentancur was classy and assertive, a midfielder too good to be asked simply to sit. Højbjerg won it at the death with a wonderful finish. A year into the age of Antonio, there is a chance here to build something.