Lionel Messi and record-breaker Mohamed Salah converted coolly taken penalties to seal 3-2 wins for Paris Saint-Germain and Liverpool amid a goal rush on a wild night in the Champions League.
Thirty-five goals were scored across eight group games on Tuesday at an average of nearly 4.4 per match as Real Madrid and Manchester City grabbed five each. There was also another goal for the competitions surprise top scorer, Sebastien Haller, in a big win for Ajax.
Messi is saving his goals for the Champions League in his first season at PSG. The Argentina star rescued the French club in its 3-2 win over Leipzig, equalizing in the 67th and then producing a cheeky Panenka penalty down the middle to complete PSGs comeback.
Messi, whose only other goal for PSG came in a Champions League win over Man City last month, even passed up the opportunity for a hat trick when PSG was awarded another penalty in stoppage time. Kylian Mbappe took it instead and smashed it over the crossbar.
Salah became the first player in Liverpools 129-year history to score in nine straight games, netting an early deflected goal and then stroking in a 78th-minute penalty to clinch a 3-2 victory at Atletico Madrid.
There was more late penalty drama in that game, too, with Atletico down to 10 men following the red card to Antoine Griezmann after his two goals seeing a spot kick awarded and then overturned after a referee check on the pitchside monitor.
Liverpool is one of two teams on a maximum nine points from three games and already on the verge of advancing. The other is Ajax, which overwhelmed Borussia Dortmund in a 4-0 win in Amsterdam with Haller heading in the fourth goal for his sixth of the competition.
Vinicius Junior, a 21-year-old Brazilian, inspired Madrid’s 5-0 win at Shakhtar Donetsk with two goals one coming from a wonderful, slaloming solo run and an assist. Another of the worlds brightest young talents, Phil Foden, was behind Citys 5-1 win at Club Brugge.
There was mixed fortunes for the Milan clubs, with Inter beating Moldovan upstart Sheriff 3-1 for a first win of the group stage and AC Milan losing 1-0 at Porto to stay winless.
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Steve Douglas is at https://twitter.com/sdouglas80
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