Champions League hits and misses: Chelsea's 'new signing' and Gabriel Jesus' hat-trick
Liverpool and Chelsea hold their nerve to qualify, while Spurs and Man City shuffle the pack with pressure off
Last Updated: 12/12/19 12:34pm
Although he was pushed hard by Phil Foden, there was only one player that deserved the man-of-the-match award in Manchester City's relatively simple 4-1 win over Dinamo Zagreb in their final group game. At just 22-years-old, Jesus now has two hat-tricks in the Champions League.
With it, the Brazilian becomes the first player under the age of 23 to score multiple hat-tricks in the competition. It's not often someone has the bragging rights over Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, but Jesus has this one.
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After a run of eight games without a goal, Jesus now has five in his last three which will please Pep Guardiola who has to make do without Sergio Aguero due to his current injury predicament.
In what can only be defined as a 'strange' set of statistics, all of Jesus' last 14 goals for City have come away from home. It's a goal run that doesn't really make logical sense as City's style doesn't change too drastically whether it's a home or away fixture. Maybe it's a confidence thing? If that's the case, then Arsenal should be quaking in their boots for the visit of City and Jesus on Super Sunday.
It's performances like this that will give City further hope that he's the man to take over the baton from Sergio Aguero in the next few years.
Other than the fact they avoided conceding seven goals again, there was very little for Spurs to cheer about at the Allianz Arena. On a bitterly cold night in Bavaria, Bayern Munich were far superior, and cruised to a sixth Champions League win from six.
The writing was on the wall before a ball had even been kicked, with doubts over the level of performance Spurs could produce without influential duo Harry Kane and Dele Alli. But while some players looked off the pace and disinterested with qualification already secured, one stepped up - Ryan Sessegnon.
It seems like Tottenham fans have been waiting a lifetime to see one of their marquee summer signings in action this season, but with his crippling hamstring injury behind him, the 19-year-old was handed his first Tottenham and Champions League start. He rose quite superbly to the occasion.
Sessegnon was Spurs' only outlet on a difficult night but utilised his pace, power and precision to become the club's youngest-ever goalscorer in the Champions League with a thunderous first-half equaliser.
Jose Mourinho put on a brave face after the defeat - his third in a row away at Bayern - and highlighted how fruitful a fact-finding mission, both good and bad, the trip was so soon after being given the reins at Spurs.
The Portuguese's cryptic comments gave no indication which players' performances disappointed him, but what's certain is that Sessegnon's display on the biggest stage will have come as welcome relief for Mourinho and fans alike.
Just days after receiving the news that they will be allowed to sign players in January, Chelsea got a similar boost on the pitch with Antonio Rudiger's return to the side in the 2-1 win at Lille.
Rudiger had only played 45 minutes of first-team football for Chelsea before Tuesday night, but he slotted in like he had never been away. Assured, aggressive and dangerous on the ball, the German's positioning was spot on throughout, meaning minimal contact with any Lille forward players.
Though Lille's goal made for a nervy finish, Rudiger and the brilliant Kurt Zouma had kept them at bay for 90 per cent of the game. Loic Remy's goal was their first shot on target, and came in the 78th minute.
This wasn't Chelsea's toughest test, but Rudiger's presence brought a calm to the entire defence. He's the leader they've missed, and now they'll be desperate to keep him fit.
Before their trip to Salzburg, Liverpool had kept just four clean sheets from 24 games in all competitions.
It has been their blistering forward play that has swept all before them on their way to the top of the Premier League. But having shut out Bournemouth last weekend in a 3-0 win at the Vitality Stadium, Jurgen Klopp's side, who had waited 14 games for a clean sheet, produced back-to-back blanks for the first time since September against Red Bull Salzburg.
That was no mean feat for the defending champions. Liverpool became the first side since March to stop the Austrian side from scoring and they were put under plenty of pressure during a frantic first-half at the Red Bull Arena.
Defender Virgil van Dijk and goalkeeper Alisson Becker, who were such key performers in Liverpool's rock-solid defence last season, were influential once again. Alisson was called into action on a number of occasions, while Van Dijk had to be alert early in the game to keep Erling Haland and Hee-Chan Hwang at bay.
Liverpool had their ruthless streak back and that's a promising sign for Klopp and his side as we move into the second half of the season when the big prizes are up for grabs.