Wenger lauds Walcott improvement

Arsene Wenger has backed Theo Walcott to regain his place in the England team after continuing his impressive form.

Walcott took his recent tally to four goals in three matches with a brace in the 2-0 win over FC Basel in the Champions League on Wednesday night.

And Arsenal boss Wenger says the attacker has forced his way into the plans of interim England boss Gareth Southgate.

"The best recommendation is his performances. It's difficult to ignore him if you see him playing tonight. But I will leave that to Southgate now," he said.

Asked if a private chat was behind the upturn in Walcott's displays, the Frenchman responded: "Look, it's not the chat that makes you score goals. He assessed well where he stands, and rectified well what he had to add to his game.

"That's 95 per cent down to him. It was a game of top quality in the first half, the pace and technical quality of our movement. We created a lot of opportunities. I regret a bit we didn't take enough of the chances we created, but it's a good basis to have a thirst for more.

"In the second half we eased a bit off, couldn't score the third goal, but it's hard to maintain that pace and accuracy in the passing and speed of the game for 90 minutes. The first half was top, top quality like we produced against Chelsea.

"It's down to hard work, but also to belief. Belief comes with the last few results. The confidence comes from the last few results.

"We hadn't beat Chelsea at home for a few games, and now it looks like we're playing with full power and pace. Now it's about continuing to improve. We know we can be better. That will be down to humility, starting tomorrow morning again and focusing on the next game."

Ancelotti: Bayern lacked 'bite' against Atletico

Carlo Ancelotti was left frustrated after Bayern Munich turned in a toothless display in their 1-0 loss to Atletico Madrid in the Champions League on Wednesday.

Both side's came into the match unbeaten in all competitions before Atletico downed their German opponents thanks to Yannick Ferreira Carrasco's 35th-minute strike.

Bayern weren't at their glittering best in this contest and despite decent chances falling to Franck Ribery and Robert Lewandowski, Ancelotti's side put in a sluggish performance by their standards.

The Italian coach was disappointed with the speed of their play but reckons the Bavarians will be back to their best in their next fixture.

"We controlled the game, but the bottom line is that today we had no bite in the tackle, we weren't determined enough. We lost too many balls and played too slow," he said.

"It was a tough game, as we expected. We could have played better. We lost some balls and got hit on the counter.

"They scored and then I think we tried to get back into it but we were too slow, and that's why I do not think we had too many chances to get back into it.

"Losing is always sad. You never want to lose. We need to evaluate the game, look at what we did well and did not do well and go forward. We are at the start of the season. We still have the chance to top the group and we will need to beat Atletico in the return game to do so.

"Against Atletico, you have to be faster and take your chances. It was not a good performance, but it was just a game. Next time, it will be better."

Luis Enrique: Gladbach surprised Barca

Luis Enrique admits VfL Borussia Mönchengladbach surprised Barcelona but insists his side were worthy of their victory in the Champions League.

Barcelona were forced to come from behind to beat the German outfit at Borussia Park, with second-half goals from Arda Turan and Gerard Pique securing a 2-1 win.

Thorgan Hazard had put Gladbach ahead in the first half, and Luis Enrique admits the hosts deployed different tactics than he expected.

"We dominated the first half and created several chances," the Barca boss said. "We didn't carve out as many opportunities after half-time, but overall it was a deserved win.

"Monchengladbach did not play the way they usually play, but they opted to sit deep. We got chances, but they hit us on the break, something which they are very good at.

"We responded after the interval and our strategy gave us the win."

Guardiola thinks City should have won at Celtic

Pep Guardiola reckons his Manchester City side should have gone on and won the match near the end in their 3-3 Champions League draw with Celtic on Wednesday.

The Scottish champions took the lead three times in the match but every time City responded to draw level.

Goals from Fernandinho, Raheem Sterling and Nolito were enough to grab a point from Celtic Park but the result ended Guardiola's 10-game winning streak.

The Spaniard was disappointed his side didn't go on and win the game in the closing stages but admits it is always "difficult" to get a result in Glasgow.

“It was difficult for us. I’m happy with the reaction from the players, it’s not easy to score three goals away," Guardiola said.

“I don’t know how many the chances they had after the third goal. We should have won it. It’s disappointing to concede at the beginning of each half, but that’s football.

“I know how difficult it is here and they started so strong. The second goal was unlucky and I don’t remember any action for them after they scored their third goal.”

Guardiola's attention now turns to locking horns with his former club Barcelona in their next Champions League match, while they have Tottenham in the Premier League at the weekend.

“It’s OK, it’s one point, we didn’t lose. You always learn. Now we have Barcelona, maybe the best team. We think about Spurs and, after the international break we’ll think about that.”

Barca battle back to beat Gladbach

Barcelona were made to sweat in their Group C clash against Borussia Monchengladbach as they came from behind to secure a 2-1 win at Borussia Park on Wednesday.

  • Borussia Monchengladbach 1 Barcelona 2
  • Sommer outstanding for Die Fohlen
  • Hazard gives hosts a first-half lead
  • Turan restores parity after the break
  • Pique completes the comeback win

Match Summary

Die Fohlen took the lead from a swift counter-attack on 34 minutes when Mahmoud Dahoud send Thorgan Hazard through on goal and the Belgian slotted his first-time shot past Marc-Andre ter Stegen.

Barca had threatened to score before and after conceding the opener, but they found Yann Sommer in fine form as the keeper made numerous saves to keep the visitors out.

Luis Enrique's side finally managed to respond in the 65th minute as Arda Turan buried his first-time shot into the back of the net from Neymar's chipped pass and they completed the comeback win eight minutes later when Gerard Pique stabbed home from close range.

Full Report

The hosts made a positive start and won a corner in the fourth minute, which came to nothing, although they created the first chance three minutes later when Ibrahima Traore pushed his long-range shot to the left of the target following a corner.

But the Catalan giants were soon posing a threat as Neymar tested Sommer from inside the box on seven minutes, while Luis Suarez flashed a shot just wide four minutes later.

Sommer was called into action again on 23 minutes to deny Ivan Rakitic from range, although it would be Gladbach who drew first blood.

After winning possession in midfield, Dahoud surged through the opposition defence and played in Hazard, who beat Ter Stegen with his first-time shot from inside the box on 34 minutes.

The Blaugrana looked to respond as Suarez forced Sommer into another save on 39 minutes before Jordi Alba blazed over from outside the area following a corner.

Andre Schubert's men took their slender lead into the break, but they were almost pegged back shortly after the restart as Paco Alcacer steered his header wide from Sergi Roberto's cross.

Sommer was on hand to keep out another long-range effort from Rakitic on 57 minutes, but he was finally beaten eight minutes later by Turan, who converted Neymar's aerial pass from inside the box.

The Switzerland international was unlucky to concede again on 73 minutes after he spilled Suarez's first-time strike from Neymar's cross, which allowed Pique to tap home from a few yards out.

Turan was denied a brace in the closing stages as Sommer turned away his effort from outside the area, but Barca had done enough to record two wins from two in their group.

Wednesday's Champions League round-up

Atletico Madrid took the lead over Bayern München, Manchester City slipped up, and Arsenal cruised in Wednesday's Champions League action.

Manchester City were surprised by fellow Brits Celtic, and had to come from behind three times to earn a 3-3 draw at Celtic Park in Glasgow.

Moussa Dembélé struck twice in the third and 47th minutes along with an own goal from Raheem Sterling, but the Premier League leaders hit back through Fernandinho in the 11th minute,before Sterling made amends eight minutes after finding the wrong net and Nolito completed the scoring in the 55th minute.

Atletico Madrid got the better of Bayern München with a 1-0 win at Vicente Caldreon thanks to Yannick Ferreira Carrasco's 35th-minute strike, but it could have been more had Antoine Griezmann not fired his penalty against the crossbar after Arturo Vidal knocked over Filipe Luis.

Arsenal did the job early on in their 2-0 win over Swiss side FC Basel at the Emirates Stadium, where Theo Walcott bagged a brace in the seventh and 26th minutes for the Gunners, with Alexis Sanchez getting both assists.

Barcelona had to come from behind to earn a 2-1 win over Borussia Mönchengladbach at Borussia-Park.

The German side took the lead through Thorgan Hazard after 34 minutes, but Arda Turan and Gerard Pique secured victory for the Catalans in the 65th and 73rd minutes respectively.

There were no slip ups for Paris Saint-Germain, despite going behind against Ludogorets in a 3-1 win at Stadion Vasil Levski.

Natanael Pimienta had given the Bulgarian side a surprise lead after just 15 minutes, but PSG struck back just before halftime through Blaise Matuidi, before Edinson Cavani finished the job with a brace in the second half.

Elsewhere, Besiktas were held to a 1-1 draw with Dynamo Kiev at the Vodafone Arena in Istanbul, where Ricardo Quaresma struck for the Turkish side in the 28th minute before Viktor Tsygankov secured a point for the Ukrainian side after 65 minutes.

Napoli made light work of Benfica, cruising to a 4-2 win at Stadio San Paolo, where Marek Hamšík struck after 20 minutes to give the Italians the lead at halftime.

The Partenopei then hit three goals in just seven minutes, with Dries Mertens securing a brace with strikes in the 51st and 58th minutes, either side of Arkadiusz Milik's 54th-minute penalty.

PSV Eindhoven had to come from behind twice to earn a 2-2 draw with Rostov at Stadion Olimp 2, with Davy Pröpper and Luuk de Jong cancelling out a brace from Dmitry Poloz.

Wednesday's results in full:

Ludogorets 1-3 PSG
Arsenal 2-0 Basel
Bsiktas 1-1 Dynamo Kiev
Napoli 4-2 Benfica
Gladbach 1-2 Barcelona
Celtic 3-3 Manchester City
Atletico Madrid 1-0 Bayern München
Rostov 2-2 PSV

Celtic and City thrill in high-scoring draw

Celtic and Manchester City played out to a thrilling 3-3 draw in their UEFA Champions League Group C encounter at Celtic Park on Wednesday.

  • Celtic 3 Manchester City 3
  • Fernandinho cancels out Dembele opener
  • Celtic lead again through Sterling own goal
  • Sterling equalises with composed finish
  • Dembele bicycle-kick makes it 3-2
  • Nolito restores parity for Citizens again

Match Summary

Celtic started with tremendous pace and intensity as Moussa Dembele gave them an early advantage. However, Fernandinho drew the visitors level in the 12th minute with an instinctive finish.

Nonetheless, the Bhoys continued to play with pace and purpose and a Raheem Sterling own goal would hand them a 2-1 lead in the 20th minute. Eight minutes later it was 2-2 when David Silva sent Sterling clear and he applied a composed finish past Graig Gordon.

After the break, a mistake from Aleksandar Kolarov saw Moussa Dembele grab his brace with an excellent bicycle kick past Claudio Bravo to give Celtic a 3-2 lead.

But, City's control of possession for long periods would eventually count when Gordon saved Sergio Aguero's shot and it fell to Nolito, who finished in the 55th minute to clinch a share of the spoils.

Full Report

The atmosphere at Celtic Park was crackling with excitement as Brendan Rodgers' men attempted to get their Group C campaign back on track against high-flying City.

With the Citizens expected to dominate proceedings, the Hoops made the perfect start when Dembele slotted home after a good set-piece routine from the hosts in the third minute.

Tom Rogic clipped a ball to the far post for James Forrest, who helped it across the face of goal. Dembele was quick to react and got the last touch past a stranded Bravo.

It was all Celtic in the opening 10 minutes as Scott Sinclair, Kolo Toure and Rogic all had moments in which it looked like they might add a second. However, it would be City who drew level in the 12th minute when Fernandinho exploited an intense period of pressure by the visitors.

Pep Guardiola's side kept the ball alive from a corner and when Kolarov mis-hit his shot, the Brazilian midfielder was on hand to control it and then scuff his effort past Gordon.

The opening 20 minutes had been played at a frenetic pace but finally it seemed City were beginning to get a stranglehold on possession. Yet, it would be the Glasgow giants who again hit the front.

Kieran Tierney found space on City's right and hit in a low powerful cross into the box. Sterling, who was tracking back defensively, was unable to get out of the way of the ball and it deflected into the net past Bravo to make it 2-1 to the hosts.

Nonetheless, some of the visitors' attacking play was superb and in the 28th minute their quality would count as Sterling found the equaliser. After Dembele lost possession, Silva sent the England winger clear down the middle and he applied a composed finish past Gordon.

The momentum was with City and Ilkay Gundogan nearly curled in an effort toward the end of the first period.

After the break, it was the Hoops who would once more take the lead. More good work from Tierney down the left saw a cross hit into the box. Kolarov was casual in his attempted clearance and the ball looped up into the air towards Dembele, whose bicycle kick wrong-footed Bravo and it was 3-2 at an ecstatic Celtic Park in the 46th minute.

However, the Citizens were taking control with their passing and movement causing Toure and Erik Sviatchenko at the back all kinds of problems.

Eventually the weight of pressure would count as another intricate movement saw Silva spring Aguero clear inside the box. The Argentina international's shot was well saved by Gordon, but the rebound fell to Nolito, who tapped home.

At 3-3, the visitors now appeared in complete control as the Scottish champions looked weary of chasing after the ball.  As the contest reached the final stages, it seemed that City would likely be the team that grabbed the winning goal. 

After more good work by Sterling on the inside right flank, Fernandinho had space to shoot from the edge of the box but he blazed just over when he may have done better in the 82nd minute.

City continued to probe although the intensity of the contest decreased in the final few minutes. Celtic's defence were able to hang on as an enthralling encounter in Glasgow ended 3-3.

Walcott brace inspires Gunners to victory

A first-half brace from Theo Walcott gave Arsenal their first victory in the Champions League group stages after they beat Basel 2-0 at the Emirates Stadium on Wednesday.

  • Arsenal 2 Basel 0
  • Walcott gives hosts early lead
  • England forward scores a second
  • Vaclík kept busy by Gunners
  • Wenger's side record first win

Match Summary

Walcott got the Gunners off to a flying start when he opened the scoring after just seven minutes, heading in a cross from Alexis Sanchez.

The duo combined again on 26 minutes as the England forward netted his fourth goal in three games to put Arsene Wenger's side firmly in control.

The RotBlau created very few chances, although David Ospina made a couple of saves to ensure the hosts would keep a clean sheet.

Full Report

The Gunners made a fast start in the English capital as Nacho Monreal forced Tomas Vaclík into a save in the seventh minute with his shot from inside the area before they took the lead moments later.

Alexis Sanchez picked out Walcott with a cross at the back post and the forward headed home from close range to open the scoring.

The hosts would control the game for the remainder of the first half, although Basel did threaten on the quarter-hour mark when Marek Suchy headed wide a corner from Luca Zuffi.

Walcott went close again midway through the first half with a shot that missed to the left of the target following a corner, but he found the back of the net just four minutes later to continue his fine goal-scoring form.

It was the same combination again as Sanchez played Walcott through on goal and the England international beat Vaclík from inside the box to make it 2-0.

Vaclík was kept busy in the closing stages of the first half as he denied Sanchez on two occasions and saved an effort from Hector Bellerin, while Mesut Ozil two missed chances from inside the 18-yard area.

The swift counter-attack from the home team on 57 minutes saw Ozil send Alex Iwobi through on goal, but the Nigerian failed to hit the target from inside the box.

Ospina was finally tested on 63 minutes by Birkir Bjarnason, who drew a save out of the keeper with his strike from distance before the Iceland international fired just wide of the mark from close range after Suchy had headed a corner into his path.

Andraz Sporar then tried his luck from inside the area on the right, but his 66th-minute shot went wide of the near post, while at the other end Sanchez pulled an effort wide and Monreal blazed over following a corner in the 74th minute.

Sporar almost halved the deficit at the death after he was played in on the right by Mohammed Elyounoussi, but his strike from an acute angle was kept out by Ospina.

The final action saw Shkodran Mustafi head wide a corner from Ozil before Sanchez was again denied by Vaclík from just six yards out.

Carrasco gives Atleti the edge

Yannick Ferreira Carrasco gave Atletico Madrid a 1-0 win in the first leg of their Champions League clash with Bayern München at Vicente Calderón on Wednesday.

  • Atletico Madrid 1 Bayern München 0
  • Torres hits the post
  • Carrasco fires Atleti ahead
  • Vidal concedes clumsy penalty
  • Griezmann misses from the spot

Match Summary

The crucial moment of the first half came in the 35th minute when Yannick Ferreira Carrasco found space to run at the Bayern defence and fire off a low effort across Manuel Neuer and into the bottom corner, giving Atleti the lead after Fernando Torres had seen an earlier effort hit the post.

The second half saw a number of half-chances go untaken until Atleti were awarded a penalty in the 82nd minute when some intricate passing between Carrasco and Filipe Luis was ended abruptly by Arturo Vidal bundling into the Brazilian left-back, with Antoine Griezmann firing the subsequent penalty against the crossbar.

Full Report

Atleti came within inches of taking the lead in the 21st minute when a corner was deflected off Robert Lewandowski at the near post to reach Fernando Torres at the far post, but his shot struck the post with Manuel Neuer poorly placed to make the save had it been on target.

Just a couple of minutes later and the former Liverpool and Chelsea striker came close to striking again when Antoine Griezmann darted down the left channel and zipped a low cross into the box that the Spaniard came within inches of getting his toe to.

Atleti struck out of nothing in the 35th minute when some space opened up for Yannick Ferreira Carrasco picked up the ball in space, bursting forward before firing a low, left-footed shot into the bottom corner.

Bayern could have been level in the 39th minute when Franck Ribery cut in from the left flank, exchanged a neat one-two with Lewandowski, and got a bit of luck for the ball to fall back into his path despite a tackle, but the Frenchman missed the opportunity when he scuffed his shot wide into the side netting.

Atleti started the second half brightly but the half chances fell to Bayern, the first seeing Thomas Müller send his header straight at Jan Oblak when unmarked at the far post from a corner; the second falling to David Alaba, but again it was straight at Oblak, who pushed the Austrian's powerful drive behind at his near post.

Then it was the Spanish side's turn to attack in the 67th minute, and Carrasco went looking for his second of the night with a dipping shot that bounced just in front of Neuer, but the German keeper was able to push it away.

Atleti were in the middle of another neat and intricate attack in the 82nd minute, with Carrasco and Filipe Luis causing trouble in the Bayern box, when Arturo Vidal recklessly clattered into the Brazilian full-back to hand the Spanish side a penalty.

Griezmann stepped up to double Atleti's lead, but the Frenchman saw his penalty thump against the crossbar before being cleared to safety.

Chilli Boys ease to victory over Bakgaga

Chippa United overpowered Premiership new-boys Baroka FC with a 3-1 victory at the Peter Mokaba Stadium on Wednesday night.

  • Baroka FC 1 Chippa United 3
  • Van Heerden opens scoring with free-kick
  • Zulu doubles Chippa's lead after the break
  • Wambi increases their lead moments later
  • Ravhuhali pulls one back for the hosts

Match Summary

The first half was a rather dour affair until the final few minutes, when Chippa took the lead and Baroka wasted a chance to equalise. The second half saw Dan Malesela's side at their best as they added two more goals before the hosts netted a consolation.

Full Report

The action took a while to heat up, neither team able to stamp their authority in the opening stages of the game.

The home side had the first chances as Mzwanele Mahashe fired a 10th-minute shot into the side-netting before Ndivhuwo Ravhuhali blasted a free-kick over the bar.

Chippa defender Mark Van Heerden then had his 18th-minute free-kick saved by Oscarine Masuluke before Mahashe headed wide for Bakgaga.

The visitors took the lead two minutes before half-time when van Heerden fired in a scorching free-kick, his first goal for the club.

The Limpopo outfit had a great chance to restore parity just after the goal, but Jacky Motshegwa missed a sitter.

Baroka suffered a setback eight minutes into the second stanza when Masuluke limped off injured, replaced by Xolani Ngcobo.

Ngcobo soon found himself picking up the ball out the back of the net when David Zulu connected with Thembinkosi Lorch's cross as Chippa got their second goal just before the hour mark.

The third goal arrived five minutes later, Mbulelo Wambi netting on the rebound after Ngcobo had parried Van Heerden's shot.

Ravhuhali scored a brilliant goal 11 minutes from time, but there was never any suggestion that the hosts would get anything out of a game in which they were clearly second best.