Manchester City have been cut into 7/2 (from 4/1) outright favourites to win the Champions League at Betfred after a supremely comfortable 5-1 win over Club Brugge in Group A this evening.
It was, for the most part, one of the most one-sided Champions League games you’re likely to ever see.
For 80 minutes, Pep Guardiola’s men limited the Belgian side to barely 30% possession and just a handful of shots, stroking the ball around like it was a training ground session at times.
City’s opener came around the half-an-hour mark, with left-back Joao Cancelo taking down a wonderful pass by Phil Foden, who was immense in his new role as a false nine, beautifully before slotting the ball through Simon Mignolet’s legs. If you didn’t know the Portuguese was a full-back, you’d honestly have thought he was a veteran centre-forward after that finish.
Ten minutes later, Riyad Mahrez was taken down in the box after a brilliant move from City – the Algerian converted the spot-kick expertly, gliding the ball into the bottom left corner.
Another ten or so minutes on the clock and Kyle Walker makes it 3-0 for City. Another great finish. The Blues’ full-backs were running riot.
The best, or at least the most heart-warming moment of the game came in the 67th minute, when Cole Palmer, who had only been on the pitch for just over two minutes, marked his Champions League debut with a cracking goal to make it 4-0 to City. What a moment for the 19-year-old.
Hans Vanaken bagged a consolation goal for Brugge with about 10 minutes left to play, but a consolation is all it was – and Mahrez put salt in the wounds by bagging his second and City’s fifth just a few minutes later.
Meanwhile, over in Spain, Liverpool beat Atletico Madrid 3-2 in an absolute thriller that had everything.
Liverpool dominated the early stages of the game and made it count with that man Mo Salah – who else – finding the back of the net through a deflected effort after just seven minutes.
Then, around five minutes later, they made it two, with a brilliant volleyed effort from Naby Keita just outside the box. Liverpool were looking so, so comfortable, while Atletico looked in disarray.
However, the Spanish champions fought their way back into the game thanks to a brace from Antoine Griezmann.
His first, around the 20th minute mark, was all instinct as he got his toe on the end of a drilled effort from Koke – while his second was a fantastic finish after a well-worked move from Diego Simeone’s men.
The second half began just as eventful as the first, with Antoine Griezmann seeing red after just over five minutes played. He made an attempt to control the ball, but his very high foot struck Roberto Firmino in the head. Fair? Harsh? It’s up for debate.
Inevitably, the Atletico faithful were riled up from thereon, and the game became a messy one. Time wasting, play acting – you know the drill.
Liverpool were given a penalty with just 15 minutes left to play after a truly baffling challenge from Hermoso. No idea what he was thinking. Salah converted – obviously!
Atletico should have had a penalty of their own not long after, following another clumsy challenge in the box – this time from Liverpool’s Diogo Jota – but, for some reason, the referee overturned his decision after being asked by VAR to go to the screen at the side of the pitch and review the incident.
The Reds managed to see the game out, however, to scoot clear at the top of Group B.
Liverpool are now 13/2 (from 15/2) to win the Champions League.
The other six results in the Champions League tonight:
Besiktas 1-4 Sporting
Shakhtar Donetsk 0-5 Real Madrid
PSG 3-2 RB Leipzig
Inter Milan 3-1 Sheriff
Ajax 4-0 Borussia Dortmund
Porto 1-0 AC Milan