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Smashed it! 10 players who shone during Champions League gameweek 3

The UEFA Champions League once again delivered in stunning style this week with a series of fascinating encounters across the tournament, the group stages beginning to take shape as we reach the half-way mark.

Holders Bayern Munich, Barcelona, Liverpool and Manchester City are the four sides in possession of perfect records after three fixtures, and each will be hoping to seal qualification to the knockout stages next time out.

Elsewhere Chelsea secured a comfortable victory over Rennes at Stamford Bridge, whilst Manchester United remain top of a wide-open Group H despite a hugely disappointing defeat at tournament debutants Istanbul Baseksehir.

We’ve decided to pick out some of the players who starred during the latest round of action, here are 10 players who shone during Champions League gameweek 3:

Diogo Jota

Liverpool’s impressive recruitment team look to have struck gold once more with the signing of Diogo Jota from Wolves during the summer, the promising forward having made a fine start to his career on Merseyside.

The Portugal international was highly-rated at Molineaux but few anticipated his move to Liverpool. However, he has quickly proven he is the perfect player to both complement and compete with the club’s attacking options.

Jota was handed a starting opportunity in a central role against Atalanta and delivered a scintillating performance as the focal point of the Reds’ attack, scoring a stunning hat-trick as Jurgen Klopp’s side moved to the brink of qualification to the knockout stages.

It was an exhibition of finishing from the 23-year-old who lifted a delightful first over the onrushing goalkeeper, before cushioning Joe Gomez’s long pass and finishing sharply to make it two.

Jota raced away to round the goalkeeper for his hat-trick in the second half, sealing an emphatic 5-0 victory for Liverpool and taking his tally to seven goals in five starts in all competitions this season.

Klopp now faces a major decision regarding his selection at centre-forward ahead of this weekend’s crunch clash with Manchester City, Jota’s fine form surely too good to ignore ahead of Sunday’s trip to the Etihad.

Youssef En-Nesyri

Sevilla pulled off the great escape to seal victory over Krasnodar and keep pace with Chelsea at the summit of Group E, coming back from two goals down to seal a 3-2 victory in Spain.

The Russian visitors had taken a shock two-goal lead through Magomed Suleymanov and a Marcus Berg penalty, before Ivan Rakitic pulled one back for the Europa League holders shortly before the break.

Sevilla’s hopes of a fightback were hindered, however, by Jesus Navas’ red card on the stroke of half-time, Julen Lopetegui’s side heading into the interval both a goal and a man down.

Sevilla’s fortunes turned following a double substitution after an hour, with Youssef En-Nesyri coming off the bench to turn defeat into victory for the La Liga outfit.

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The Moroccan super-sub capitalised on a defensive mistake to fire home an equaliser for Sevilla, before reacting quickest after Rakitic’s free-kick came back off the post to complete the comeback.

Victory leaves Sevilla level on points with Chelsea after three fixtures, both sides well placed to reach the knockout stages.

Demba Ba

Istanbul Baseksehir’s side had a familiar feel as they lined up against Manchester United on Wednesday evening, a former Premier League contingent headed by former West Ham, Newcastle and Chelsea forward Demba Ba.

The Senegalese striker proved there is still plenty left in the tank despite turning 35-years-old earlier this year, opening the scoring in bizarre fashion following some catastrophic defending from Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side.

Ba was left completely unmarked in scenes not often witnessed even in school-boy football, racing through on goal to fire past Dean Henderson to put the Turkish champions ahead.

The veteran remained a thorn in the United defence throughout with Axel Tuanzebe struggling in particular, dummying a cross for Baseksehir’s second following another defensive mistake from the visitors.

Ba may be approaching the twilight of his career, but his finishing remains as sharp as ever.

Christopher Nkunku

Istanbul Baseksehir’s victory over Manchester United, coupled with RB Leipzig’s win against Paris Saint-Germain, has blown Group H wide-open at the half-way stage.

Leipzig bounced back from their thrashing at Old Trafford last week to to avenge last season’s semi-final defeat to the Parisians at the Red Bull Arena.

The Bundesliga side lived dangerously during the opening period and fell behind to Angel Di Maria’s early goal following a defensive mistake, before having goalkeeper Peter Gulacsi to thank for denying the Argentine from doubling PSG’s lead from the penalty spot.

Leipzig grew into the contest with midfielder Christopher Nkunku their brightest spark, the youngster firing home a smartly-taken equaliser against his former side to bring the scores level.

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The Frenchman was inventive throughout and deservedly finished on the winning side, just three points now separating each of the four sides in a tightly-contested group.

Ruslan Neshcheret

Teenager Ruslan Neschcheret was thrown into the Dynamo Kyiv side in a baptism of fire at Barcelona in midweek, thrust into the spotlight after the club’s two senior goalkeepers both tested positive for coronavirus.

It proved a remarkable debut for the 18-year-old despite the Ukrainian’s slipping to a 2-1 defeat, the narrow scoreline owing to a sensational European debut from the novice goalkeeper.

Neschcheret made an incredible 12 saves to deny the hosts time and time again, including this acrobatic effort to claw away a pinpoint Lionel Messi free-kick at the Camp Nou.

It was the most saves any goalkeeper has recorded in a single Champions League fixture for seven years and the joint-third most ever managed in the competition’s history.

Alvaro Morata

Alvaro Morata is enjoying his football once more after returning to Juventus during the summer, the forward having rediscovered his goal touch following indifferent spells at Chelsea and Atletico Madrid.

Morata has never been a prolific goalscorer despite spells at a succession of Europe’s superpowers, but he has begun the new season in fine fashion and continued his impressive record on the Champions League stage for the Bianconeri.

The Spaniard bounced back from incredibly seeing a hat-trick of goals all ruled out for offsides against Barcelona last week to score twice in a 4-1 win over Ferencvaros, marking his 100th appearance over two spells at Juventus with a brace.

It’s now six goals in his past seven appearances for Morata who is the Champions League’s joint-leading scorer with four goals to date, his return to Turin having been a happy one thus far.

Alassane Plea

Borussia Monchengladbach have rightfully won plenty of plaudits for their performances since returning to the Champions League this season, the Bundesliga side having been unfortunate to take just two points from clashes with Inter Milan and Real Madrid.

The Germans got a deserved first victory at previous group leaders Shakhtar Donestk on Tuesday night, however, thrashing the Ukrainian outfit 6-0 in a display of ruthless attacking football.

It proved a night to remember for forward Alassane Plea, who scored his first Champions League goals with a clinical hat-trick as Monchengladbach ran riot to move top of the group.

Plea swept home a fine first-time finish to open the scoring from Stefan Lainer’s cross, before rifling home a stunning second from distance, his ferocious effort whistling past helpless Shakhtar goalkeeper Anatolii Trubin.

The Frenchman provided an assist for Lars Stindl before sealing the match ball, a virtuoso performance from the 27-year-old who has formed part of a vibrant Monchengladbach side who have put themselves in a strong position to seal qualification.

Dusan Tadic

Ajax’s talismanic forward once again delivered for the Dutch side in Europe on Tuesday night, scoring one and making another to help his side to a 2-1 victory at FC Midtjylland.

Tadic rolled a pass into the path of Brazilian winger Antony to score his first Champions League goal, before firing an indirect free-kick high into the roof of the net from close range following a back-pass.

The Serbia international has elevated his game to new heights since moving to the Amsterdam outfit from Southampton two years ago, scoring prolifically and providing the creative spark for Erik ten Hag’s side.

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Tadic’s record now stands at a phenomenal 108 goals contributions in 108 appearances for Ajax, the 31-year-old having scored 61 goals and 47 assists in all competitions following his match-winning performance against Midtjylland.

Erling Haaland

Borussia Dortmund’s goalscoring sensation continues to break new records in the famed yellow colours of the Bundesliga outfit, Haaland scoring a clinical brace to help his side to a 3-0 win at Club Brugge this week.

Haaland’s close-range double secured a vital victory for Dortmund and made it 14 goals in just 11 appearances in the Champions League, more than any other player has ever managed in their first 11 games in the competition.

The Norwegian has now also scored against every single opponent he has faced in the Champions League, a remarkable record for a player who looks set to write more history in the coming seasons.

Haaland’s double helped fire Dortmund to the top of Group F, one point clear of Lazio after bouncing back from an opening defeat to the Italian side in Rome.

Timo Werner

Chelsea moved top of their Champions League group with a comfortable victory over Rennes at Stamford Bridge, their victory fired by a double from summer signing Timo Werner.

The Germany international maintained his strong recent form by twice firing home from the penalty spot, the forward having taken over responsibility from Jorginho to dispatch two emphatic efforts past the visiting goalkeeper.

Werner was a constant menace to the French side throughout with his mix of pace, movement and industrious work-ethic, the 24-year-old beginning to establish himself as Chelsea’s main attacking threat.

Lampard will hope the German can continue his momentum ahead of this weekend’s clash with Sheffield United, Werner having now scored seven goals in 11 appearances so far this season.

Read – Champions League Team of the Week for Gameweek 3

Read Also – Ranking the six players to appear in the most Champions League seasons for a single team

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