Chelsea and Inter Milan each picked up three important points on Wednesday, as both teams drastically improved their chances of reaching the Champions League knockout stages.
American youngster Christian Pulisic came off the bench to set up a finish by fellow substitute, Michy Batshuayi, to score the only goal for Chelsea in a 1-0 victory at Ajax.
Lampard Praises Chelsea Substitutes
The 86th minute strike stunned the home side, allowing Chelsea to get a valuable road win and join Ajax atop Group H with six points after three games.
The result delighted Chelsea manager Frank Lampard, who found nothing to complain about in his team’s performance.
“The work ethic of the group, the work we put in off the ball for every man and the subs was outstanding. It has to be to come here and get a result,” Lampard told reporters. “And then the subs, it is what you want from subs. Sometimes the toughest part of management is leaving out players who really want to play week in and week out, then you are relying on them being positive and coming on and making an impact. They both did. I’m delighted for them both.”
Coming into Wednesday with just one point from two matches, Inter Milan may have needed a win even more than Chelsea. And while its performance may not have been quite as inspiring, Inter did manage to collect the full three points, posting a 2-0 win over Dortmund at home.
Inter Gets Past Surprisingly Defensive Dortmund
Lautaro Martinez scored the first goal of the match about 22 minutes in, then failed to put the game away when his second-half penalty was saved by Dortmund keeper Roman Buerki. Inter would later seal the match when Antonio Candreva found the net on a counterattack in the 89th minute.
The result leaves Inter and Dortmund equal on four points, with both trailing Group F leader Barcelona, which is currently on seven points.
“Borussia Dortmund changed their system because they were afraid of our attack, contrary to what [Dortmund manager] Favre said before the game,” Inter Milan manager Antonio Conte said after the match. “We had prepared for a different match but we did well to adapt and win. It was the only thing we could do to survive.”
Wednesday Champions League Results
- Ajax 0-1 Chelsea
- RB Leipzig 2-1 Zenit
- Slavia Prague 1-2 Barcelona
- Red Bull Salzburg 2-3 Napoli
- Genk 1-4 Liverpool
- Inter Milan 2-0 Dortmund
- Lille 1-1 Valencia
- Benfica 2-1 Lyon
Wednesday’s matches marked the midpoint of the Champions League group stage, with all teams having played three of their six games. Only three clubs remain perfect with nine points: PSG, Bayern Munich, and Manchester City. Meanwhile, just two clubs have failed to grab at least a point: Italian side Atalanta, as well as German team, Bayer Leverkusen.
Heading into the second half of group stage play, Manchester City has become the clear Champions League favorite, with FanDuel Sportsbook listing the English champions as a +280 pick to win the competition. Defending champions Liverpool are second choice at +600, followed by Barcelona (+650), PSG (+650), Bayern Munich (+700), and Juventus (+1000).