• Kieran Horn

COLLECTIVE CHAMPIONS: CHECK OUT THIS WEEKS TOP PERFORMERS IN THE CL


There were plenty of match-winning performances on the fifth matchday in the Champions League with many teams securing qualification for the knockout stages.


A deputising goalkeeper helped the English Champions into the Round of 32, while a former Premier League striker gave his team a glimmer of hope for qualifying beyond the group stages.


(special mention to Agustin Marchesin in goal for Porto, skip to 3:30 in BT Sport’s highlights of Man City vs Porto if you want to see the best save ever).


Here is GW5’s Champions League TOTW:


Goalkeeper


Caoimhin Kelleher

Earning a clean sheet and making three top-class saves is an overall good night for any keeper, but when it’s your debut like it was for Liverpool’s Caoimhin Kelleher, it’s extra-special.


With Allison suffering a hamstring injury, the 22-year-old made his debut and performed as though he’d been playing for ten years.


The Irishman made some superb saves, including a tremendous reaction stop to deny Klaas Jan Huntelaar, to help the Reds on their way to the knockout stages.


Defenders


Neco Williams

Due to the absence of the heavily influential Trent Alexander-Arnold, Neco Williams has been thrusted into the full-back position for Liverpool and against Ajax he delivered a performance reminiscent of his injured team-mate.


Like Alexander-Arnold, the Welshman was a constant threat down the right for Liverpool and by the end of the game had something to show for.


Curtis Jones guided home Williams deep cross with Ajax keeper Andre Onana losing flight of the ball, and the goal was enough to see Jurgen Klopp’s side head into the next round.



Christian Romero

One week removed from the shock result at Anfield, Atalanta were probably expecting a routine win over FC Midtjylland, but that wasn’t quite how it went and Christian Romero was the sole reason that Atalanta’s blushes were ever-so-slightly saved.


After going behind early on, it took the usually free-scoring Italian side 66 minutes to respond and it came through an unlikely source.


Romero headed home from Hans Hateboer’s cross to give Atalanta the advantage when they meet Ajax next week in the game that will decide who joins Liverpool in the knockout stages.


Marquinhos

Despite having two of the world’s best forwards in their team, PSG needed Marquinhos to secure an all-important three points that put them in the driving seat to enter the Round of 16.


In the space of ten minutes, Marquinhos stopped an almost certain goal and then netted the an elusive second for Thomas Tuchel’s side.


The Brazilian put his body on the line to stop Martial from close-range but no one could deny him at the other end, when he forced the ball home after Abdou Diallo kept play alive following a scuffed shot from Alessandro Florenzi.


The heroics at both ends from the 26-year-old spurred PSG on to an important victory which means a win against Istanbul Basaksehir will see them qualify.


Mykola Matvienko

After shipping ten goals against Borussia Monchengladbach over two games, the Shakhtar Donetsk defence must’ve been fearing the worst for the game against Real Madrid.


However, once again the Ukrainian side beat Madrid, this time keeping a clean sheet with Mykola Matvienko having a barn-stormer of a game.


He stopped just about every attack down the Madrid right, while also winning 80% of his tackles, making three interceptions and three ball recoveries.


This historic win puts Shaktar in a great position to defy the odds and qualify, but it does involve a trip to Inter, who will also be looking to get out of the group stages.


Midfielders


Irfan Kahveci

Very rarely will a player score hat-trick in a game and still end up on the losing side, but that’s unfortunately what happened to Irfan Kahveci who thought he’d earnt his side a point.


Sadly, Alexander Sorloth scored in the final minutes to make it 4-3 to RB Leipzig and deny Istanbul Basaksehir a valuable draw.


For his goals, Kahveci fired in from the edge of the box following an Edin Visca corner, he then beautifully curled home with twenty minutes to spare and completed his hat-trick with a stunning free-kick.


Although it was a tremendous individual performance by the 25-year-old, it wasn’t enough for Istanbul who are guaranteed to finish bottom of Group H.


Curtis Jones

Liverpool may boast the attacking talent and experience of Sadio Mane and Jordan Henderson, but in the game against Ajax, it was a definitely a night for the youngsters, most notably Curtis Jones.


The teenager definitely brought his shooting boots to Anfield, forcing Andre Onana into a save and then striking the post in the first half.


Eventually, he got his break, watching a Neco Williams cross all the way onto the outside of his right boot with Onana misjudging the flight of the ball, leaving the goal wide open.


Dimitri Payet

To say Marseille have struggled in the Champions League this year would be an understatement, but luckily for them Dimitri Payet is clinical from 12 yards.


Having lost all of their games up until Tuesday night, qualification in the Champions League is no longer possible.


However, two Payet penalties which nestled in the top corner gave them a win over Olympiakos which means a Europa League place is still possible, but Andre Villas-Boas side will need to get something from the Etihad.


Attackers


Romelu Lukaku

Thanks heavily to Romelu Lukaku, who inspired Inter to a 3-2 victory over Borussia Monchengladbach, every team from Group B can still qualify for the Champions League knockout rounds. Mental I know.


The Belgian forward finished powerfully with his weaker right foot to put Inter in front and then followed that up with a clinical side-footed strike from Marcelo Brozovic’s inch-perfect pass.


Those three points do see Inter remain bottom of the group, but a victory over Shaktar Donetsk will see them qualify assuming the result in Madrid goes their way.


Mergim Berisha

With Atletico Madrid flailing in Group A, it was on Lokomotiv Moscow or RB Salzburg to take the initiative and it was certainly the latter who did, with Mergim Berisha as the star of the show.


The Swedish-born striker was the quickest to respond in a goal-mouth scramble to give his team the lead and 13 minutes later he latched onto a piercing pass from Sekou Koita to put Salzburg in control.


Earning their first three points of this Champions League campaign, Salzburg’s European destiny is now in their own hands.


A win over Atletico and Bayern beating Lokomotiv will put the Austrian league leaders in the knockout rounds.


Olivier Giroud

With so much attacking talent now at Chelsea it was always going to be very difficult for Olivier Giroud to earn game-time, but when Frank Lampard has given him minutes, he’s most definitely utilised them.


After scoring the winner in Rennes which earned Chelsea a place in the knockout stages, he followed that up with four goals in Spain.


The Frenchman showed his striking initiative with two delicate finishes either side of half time, and then a powerful header completed a perfect hat-trick.


A decisive strike from 12 yards capped off a memorable night for Giroud, who’s goals guaranteed top spot in Group E for the blues.


Manager


Luis Castro

Not many teams can say they took maximum points off Real Madrid in the group stages of the Champions League, but Luis Castro certainly can.


In the first game they blew Los Blancos away with three quick-fire goals, in the return fixture it was all about soaking up the pressure and then striking on the counter.


Castro lost his main goal threat in Junior Moraes after just 25 minutes, but his replacement Dentinho fired in the opener.


As the game went by a few Shaktar players began to tire, leading Castro to look to the bench and introduce Manor Salomon.


Eight minutes later Solomon capped off a driving run with a superb finish past Thibaut Courtois.


Two important decisions had been made in regards to subs from the 59-year-old manager and both had their desired impact.