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Champions League: City edge Napoli, Liverpool hit seven past Maribor

Wed, 18 Oct 2017
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MANCHESTER: Manchester City stayed top of Champions League Group F after beating Napoli 2-1 last night but Pep Guardiola’s side almost paid the price for their sloppiness after having gone 2-0 up inside 13 minutes.

Raheem Sterling put City ahead in the ninth minute, finishing with his left foot after Kyle Walker’s attempt to convert a David Silva pull-back was blocked.

Four minutes later, the in-form Kevin De Bruyne created the second, powering down the right flank and delivering a pinpoint low cross to Gabriel Jesus, who made no mistake.

Belgian midfielder De Bruyne fired a long-range shot against the bar in the 25th after a swift City counter-attack and then Jesus had a goalbound effort cleared off the line by Kalidou Koulibaly.

Napoli had an opportunity to narrow the deficit in the 38th minute after Kyle Walker gave away a penalty but City’s Brazilian keeper Ederson produced a fine save to keep out Dries Mertens’ kick.

The Italians were given a second chance from the spot in the 73rd minute, this time Amadou Diawara firing home after Faouzi Ghoujlam was tripped by Fernandinho.

Despite some late pressure from Maurizio Sarri’s side, City held on to secure their third straight win and leave them on top of the group with nine points. Napoli are third on three points, three behind second-placed Shakhtar.

Meanwhile, Tottenham Hotspur held Real Madrid to 1-1, a result that kept both clubs at the top of Group H.

Tottenham scored first with an own-goal by Raphael Varane as the Madrid defender tried to clear a cross intended for Harry Kane, and Cristiano Ronaldo equalised for Madrid by converting a penalty kick just before halftime after Toni Kroos was fouled.

Tottenham were a tough challenge against the defending champions and could have left Madrid with the victory but Kane’s close-range shot was saved by goalkeeper Keylor Navas midway through the second half in one of the game’s best scoring opportunities.

The unbeaten sides meet again in England in two weeks.

They remain tied for the group lead with seven points and the same number of goals scored and conceded.

In the other Group H match, APOEL held Borussia Dortmund to a 1-1 draw at home, leaving both teams with one point each.

Liverpool eased the pressure on Jurgen Klopp as Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah inspired a 7-0 thrashing of Maribor.

After drawing their first two European fixtures and spluttering in the Premier League, Liverpool arrived in Slovenia with critics questioning Klopp’s signings and tactics.

But, for once, Klopp’s team showed a ruthless touch in the opposition penalty area to demolish woeful Maribor.

Firmino opened the scoring and Philippe Coutinho increased Liverpool’s lead before Salah’s brace put the Reds four up by half-time at Stadion Ljudski Vrt.

Firmino netted again after the break, with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Trent Alexander-Arnold also on the scoresheet as Liverpool’s goal blitz moved them into first place in Group E with three matches left.

Monaco slumped to a 2-1 home defeat against Besiktas that left last year’s semi-finalists bottom of Group G and facing a battle to reach the knockout rounds.

Cenk Tosun scored twice for the visitors, netting either side of the interval, after Radamel Falcao had opened the scoring for the Ligue 1 club.

The result put Turkish side Besiktas on a perfect nine points from three games and left Monaco propping up the table with a solitary point.

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