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  • Chelsea missed an opportunity to join the three powers with an unblemished Champions League record, but it fought back for a thrilling draw vs. Roma to remain atop its group nonetheless.
By Jonathan Wilson
October 18, 2017

Three sides–Barcelona, Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester United–won a third Champions League game out of three to take charge of their respective groups, but Chelsea missed the opportunity to do likewise by throwing away a 2-0 lead before fighting back to draw 3-3 against Roma.

Barcelona had Gerard Pique sent off before halftime, collecting a second yellow card for deliberately flicking the ball over the line with his hand, but still beat Olympiakos 3-1. An own-goal from Dimitrios Nikolaou after a Gerard Deulofeu cross deflected in off him was enough send Barcelona on its way. Lionel Messi added a second with a wonderful free kick and then Lucas Digne drove in a third off Messi's assist. Nikolaou scored a last-minute goal at the right end to complete the scoring.

In the other game in the group, a late Mario Mandzukic goal gave Juventus the winner as it came from behind to beat Sporting Lisbon 2-1.

PSG stayed perfect a straightforward 4-0 victory over Anderlecht with goals from Kylian Mbappe, Edinson Cavani, Neymar and Angel Di Maria. After its defeat in Paris and the replacement of Carlo Ancelotti with Jupp Heynckes, Bayern Munich got back on track with a 3-0 win over Celtic.

Benfica fielded the youngest goalkeeper in Champions League history in Mile Svilar, and he was at fault in conceding the only goal of the game, with the 18-year-old carrying 19-year-old Marcus Rashford's free kick over the line 20 minutes into the second half.

Basel is three points behind United for second in the group after Taulant Xhaka’s long-range strike set it on the way to a 2-0 win over CSKA Moscow. Dmitri Oberlin added a late second, off Xhaka's assist, to account for the other goal.

Chelsea looked as though it would maintain a perfect record as it raced into a 2-0 lead against Roma, but then conceded three before an Eden Hazard header, his second goal of the game, made it 3-3.

Atletico was held 0-0 away to Qarabag, despite the Azerbaijani champions having Dino Ndlovu sent off after collecting a second yellow card for diving with 15 minutes remaining.

Here are three thoughts on the day in the Champions League, which has had its group stage reach the halfway point:

Chelsea, Roma don't disappoint, but both left disappointed

Chelsea had been superb in winning 2-1 away to Atletico Madrid in its last Champions League game, but since then it has lost twice in the Premier League and it was badly exposed defensively here. Antonio Conte, perhaps alarmed by recent laxity and reacting to the injuries to N’Golo Kante and Danny Drinkwater, moved David Luiz into midfield, and was rewarded with the opening goal from the Brazilian, who swept a first-time shot just inside the post from 25 yards.

Conte had his team sit off and look to strike on the break, but defensively it was never entirely convincing. Roma had its chances before Eden Hazard, having begun a break, finished it off as Alvaro Morata’s shot was deflected into his path. Within two minutes, though, Roma had one back, with Aleksandar Kolarov tearing past Cesar Azpilicueta before lashing a deflected shot into the roof of the net.

Edin Dezko smashed in a brilliant volley to level, before the two former Manchester City players combined to give Roma the lead, Kolarov crossing for Dzeko to head in his second. Conte had removed David Luiz for Pedro by then, looking to take the stem the flow in Roma’s favor, and it was the substitute who set up the equalizer, crossing for Hazard to guide in a deft header. Chelsea still leads the group, two points clear of Roma and five ahead of Atletico, but there were worrying signs here, and both sides will rue dropping points they could have had.

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Bayern continues picking up pieces under Heynckes

Bayern Munich's recovery under Jupp Heynckes continues apace. It wasn’t just results that brought the end for Carlo Ancelotti but a general sense of lack of desire about the club, culminating in the 3-0 defeat to PSG in their last Champions League game. Heynckes, now 72 and in his fourth spell in charge of the club, has a remarkable record in the Champions League having won it twice, and he reached the final in his three previous seasons with Bayern.

Heynckes has begun the process of re-instilling discipline and results have already picked up. The 5-0 win over Freiburg on Saturday was followed by a comfortable demolition of Celtic Wednesday. Thiago Alcantara was perhaps a little unlucky to have goal ruled out after it was, probably wrongly, deemed to have gone out of play before Robert Lewandowski cut it back to him, but the goals soon flowed.

Thomas Muller followed in after Craig Gordon had saved a Lewandowski header to become the first German to reach 40 Champions League goals, and then Joshua Kimmich guided a header from a Kingsley Coman cross over the goalkeeper. Another cross brought the third goal, with Mats Hummels nodding in an Arjen Robben corner to secure the points in a match the cemented Bayern's place in second behind PSG.

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Nervous Juventus recovers, remains on course for knockout stage

With Barcelona likely to top the group, this game and the return fixture in two weeks, always looked like being vital in determining who goes through in second. As it was Juve that took the advantage with a narrow win, but it was far from convincing.

The club's run of 57 games unbeaten at home came to an end on Saturday when it lost to Lazio, and it began nervously here, falling behind after 12 minutes to an Alex Sandro own-goal. He was unfortunate that the ball struck him having bounced off Gianluigi Buffon, but it had been his error, failing to cut out a Bruno Fernandes ball to Gelson Martins, that led to the initial save. Miralem Pjanic leveled before halftime with a precise free kick and with six minutes to go the substitute Douglas Costa crossed for Mario Mandzukic to head in for the eventual winner. Another such result would keep Juventus, twice a finalist in the last three seasons, on course to go through.

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