MADRID: Barcelona’s high-powered attack faltered against Inter Milan and the Italian club gained an edge in the battle for second place in their Champions League group on Tuesday, while Bayern Munich and Napoli continued to impress and Club Brugge earned a surprising third straight victory.
Inter defeated Barcelona 1-0 at home to move into position to grab the second qualifying spot in Group C, which is led by Bayern Munich after it comfortably defeated Viktoria Plzeň 5-0 to set record of 31 straight matches unbeaten in the competition’s group stage.
Napoli impressed with a 6-1 win at Ajax, while Belgian champion Club Brugge also kept a perfect record with a home victory against Atlético Madrid, which saw Antoine Griezmann miss a penalty kick.
Liverpool picked up its second win by beating Rangers 2-0, while Porto earned its first victory by defeating Bayern Leverkusen by the same score.
A moment of silence was held before all matches in memory of the victims of the stadium tragedy in Indonesia.
Hakan Çalhanoğlu scored the winner in first-half stoppage time to give Inter the win over Barcelona and sole possession of second place in the group dominated by Bayern.
Inter prevailed as its defense successfully contained striker Robert Lewandowski and Barcelona’s attack, which had outscored opponents 24-4 in nine matches
Barcelona loudly complained after it had a goal disallowed by a handball and was then denied a penalty for another handball by Inter in stoppage time.
“I’m mad because it wasn’t fair,” Barcelona coach Xavi Hernández said. “We don’t understand anything. The referee needs to explain what happened publicly.”
The victory eased some of the pressure on Inter coach Simone Inzaghi after the team’s poor start to the season.
Inter now faces Barcelona at the Camp Nou in the next round. The Catalan club is three points behind Inter and six behind Bayern.
With the home victory over Plzeň, Bayern surpassed a 30-match unbeaten run set by Real Madrid in the group stage of the Champions League between 2012-17.
Bayern, which got two goals from Leroy Sané, also hasn’t lost at home in Europe’s premier competition since a 3-2 defeat to Manchester City in 2013. It has won 25 games and drawn one in Munich since then.
Bayern played without Thomas Müller and Joshua Kimmich because of coronavirus infections.
Napoli kept up its momentum by handing Ajax its worst ever European defeat, surpassing its 5-1 loss to Bayern Munich in 1980.
“It was a difficult, painful evening for us. Not worthy of Ajax,” said the Dutch team’s coach, Alfred Schreuder.
Napoli has now scored 13 goals in three Group A matches this Champions League campaign. It leads Serie A, where it also remains unbeaten.
Liverpool stayed close in the group by reaching six points after defeating Rangers at home with goals by Trent Alexander-Arnold and Mohamed Salah. It was Liverpool’s second consecutive European win after defeating Ajax and losing to Napoli in the group opener.
Ajax stayed third with three points, while Rangers had zero.
Club Brugge’s dream run in the Champions League continued with the win over Atlético for an unprecedented third straight victory to start the group stage.
Ferran Jutgla scored a goal and added an assist as the Belgian club moved six points in front of all other teams in Group B.
It was the second consecutive loss in the European competition for Atlético, which dropped to last place after Porto picked up its first points with a 2-0 win against Bayer Leverkusen, which missed a penalty kick.
After not scoring in two opening losses in Group D, Marseille ended Sporting’s perfect record with some help by the visiting goalkeeper’s blunders in a 4-1 win.
Antonio Adan made mistakes on the first two goals and was shown a 23rd-minute red card for handling the ball outside his area.
Sporting, looking for its third straight win, had opened the scoring in the first minute. The Portuguese side still leads the group with six points, two more than Tottenham and Eintracht, which drew 0-0 in Germany.
The game in Marseille, played without fans because of fan trouble last month, was delayed by more than 20 minutes after the bus carrying the visiting team’s players was caught in traffic and arrived late at the at the Velodrome stadium.