Champions League: Five talking points from group stage round three

Kylian Mbappe's brilliant hat-trick, Chelsea's new-found form and other talking points from round three of the Champions League group stage.

Toni Kroos helped Real Madrid to bounce back from its weekend LaLiga defeat by scoring the only goal against Galatasaray.   -  Getty Images

The Champions League's heavyweights flexed their muscles as Paris Saint-Germain, Manchester City, Tottenham and Liverpool secured big wins this midweek.

Bayern Munich, Barcelona, Juventus, Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid and Napoli also took major steps towards the last 16.

Here are the five things we learned from the third round of group-stage matches:

Lampard learning quickly

Michy Batshuayi celebrates after scoring a late goal for Chelsea against Ajax at the Amsterdam Arena.   -  Getty Images

 

Frank Lampard won just two of his first eight games as Chelsea manager, including a 1-0 home defeat to Valencia on matchday one that put the Blues on the backfoot in Group H.

However, despite blooding a host of youngsters, coping with a transfer ban and the loss of Eden Hazard, Lampard has quickly righted the Chelsea ship with a 1-0 win at Ajax making it six wins in a row in all competitions.

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After inflicting Ajax's first defeat since its heartbreaking late exit to Tottenham in last season's Champions League semi-finals, Chelsea is now well-placed to qualify along with the Dutch champion for the last 16.

Both sides are on six points with Valencia on four and Lille one after they drew 1-1 in France.

Haaland hype intensifies

With six goals in his first three Champions League matches, Erling Haaland is emerging as a top European striker.   -  Getty Images

 

Erling Braut Haaland became the first player to ever score six goals in his first three Champions League appearances, but his double was not enough to save Salzburg as Napoli emerged 3-2 victor in Austria.

The 19-year-old Norwegian is already being chased by Europe's top clubs and added a few more millions to his asking price by taking his tally to 20 goals in 13 appearances this season.

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The son of former Leeds and Manchester City midfielder Alf-Inge Haaland is just the third teenager to score in his first three Champions League games.

And with Salzburg's chances of making the last 16 now slim, the potential for a big-money move as soon as January took another step closer on Wednesday.

Life in Tottenham yet

Mauricio Pochettino's Tottenham Hotspur thrashed Red Star Belgrade 5-0.   -  Getty Images

 

Tottenham recovered from taking just one point from its opening three group games last season to make it all the way to the final, but a 7-2 thrashing at the hands of Bayern Munich and poor Premier League form gave Red Star Belgrade plenty of reason for hope ahead of their trip to north London.

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Instead, the Serbian champion returned home on the end of a 5-0 hammering as two goals each from Harry Kane and Son Heung-min saw Spurs recover their mojo and take control of second spot in Group B.

There remains work for Mauricio Pochettino's men to do with two of their last three games away from home, but on the evidence of Tuesday's meeting there is little for them to fear bar a boisterous atmosphere when they head to Belgrade in two weeks' time.

Madrid back on track

 

Real Madrid still harbours expectations of returning to Istanbul for the final come May, but the 13-time champion found itself in the unusual position of seeing its third group game against Galatasaray branded "a final" by the Spanish media.

That was because Zinedine Zidane's men had taken just one point from their opening two games against Paris Saint-Germain and Club Brugges and ran a serious risk of missing out on the knockout stages for the first time in 23 years with defeat on Tuesday.

Madrid had to withstand an early onslaught as Thibaut Courtois silenced his critics with two huge saves from Florin Andone, but Toni Kroos scored the only goal for a 1-0 win that puts the Spanish giant back on course for the last 16.

Mbappe doesn't waste time

 

Kylian Mbappe was only fit enough to feature for the final half hour of PSG's 5-0 romp over Club Brugges, but still had enough time to score a brilliant hat-trick as the French champion closed in on the last 16.

Thomas Tuchel will have difficult decisions to make if and when he can finally get his full compliment of forwards in Mbappe, Neymar, Edison Cavani and Mauro Icardi fit.

Icardi also scored twice in Belgium with PSG in a dominant position in Group A, five points clear of Madrid and seven ahead of Brugges in third.

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