UCL: Bayern snatch late draw at Salzburg, Liverpool wriggle past Inter

Former European champions and German heavyweights Bayern Munich were lucky to escape with a point in the Champions League round of 16 on Thursday morning, pushed to the very edge in a 1-1 draw with Austrian underdogs RB Salzburg.

It took a last-minute equaliser from Kingsley Coman to cancel out Salzburg’s opener by Chukwubuike Adamu and rescue Bayern’s record unbeaten away run in the competition, which now extends to 22 games.

Salzburg began the first-leg tie with the same energy and enthusiasm as their raucous home crowd, but it was the German giants who registered the first major chance when Serge Gnabry forced a save from Philipp Kohn.

Despite that, Bayern found themselves behind in the 21st minute after Adamu, who’d been substituted onto the field early to replace the injured Noah Okafor, sweeping a clever Brenden Aaronson touch past keeper Sven Ulreich to make it 1-0.

Ulreich was tested again by Aaronson, and Salzburg could have had a chance to make it two after Karim Adeyemi looked to be tripped over in the penalty area by defender Benjamin Pavard, but was over-ruled after a VAR check.

Bayern winger Leroy Sané had the only other major chance of the first stanza, fizzing the ball wide of the far post.

Despite dominating possession and registering twice as many shots as Salzburg, it was the home side who could have made it 2-0 in the second were it not for some individual brilliance from an outstretched Pavard to block yet another Adamu shot.

Coman ultimately saved Bayern’s blushes in the 89th minute, as he did against PSG in the 2020 Champions League final, latching onto a flick by Thomas Müller at the far post and drilling low and hard beneath Kohn to make it 1-1.

The return leg will be played in Munich on March 9.

Liverpool squeeze past Inter Milan

Buoyed by the return of Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mané from international duty, as well as the teenage Harvey Elliot, who made his Champions League debut five months after dislocating his ankle, Liverpool snatched two late goals against Italian champions Inter Milan at the San Siro on Thursday.

Brazilian striker Robert Firmino celebrated his 150th club appearance by coming off the bench to give the Reds the lead in the 74th minute before Salah extended his club record of scoring in successive European away games (eight) in the 83rd.

While the first half was as open and gripping as one would expect from two high-intensity European heavyweights, neither side was able to register a shot on target in the opening 45.

Lautaro Martínez came closest first, sweeping a shot past Alisson’s far post moments after Salah galloped in behind Inter’s back-line, only to have his misplaced back-heel intercepted by the covering Alessandro Bastoni.

A wayward bicycle kick and a fizzing header sent over the crossbar were Mané’s biggest contributions of the opening half, still fresh off his African Cup of Nations title with Senegal.

Inter provided a similar number of gasp-inducing moments, particularly through forward Ivan Perisic, who eased past Trent Alexander-Arnold and curled in a cross for Hakan Calhanoglu, whose strike skimmed off the woodwork at a tight angle.

Reds boss Jurgen Klopp turned to Firmino at the break, bringing on the more creative false-nine in place of Diogo Jota, while also making a triple-substitution just after the hour with the scores still tied at 0-0.

It was new Colombian signing Luis Díaz who injected the necessary energy and bite for Liverpool, giving them the momentum that won them the corner for Firmino to flick home. Less than 10  minutes later, a deep free-kick by Alexander-Arnold found its way to Salah standing unmarked on the penalty spot, with his shot deflected past Handanovic.

They take the 2-0 advantage into their second-leg tie at Anfield on March 9.

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