GENEVA (AP) — Newcastle capped a stellar day for Saudi Arabia’s soccer project with a 4-1 win over Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League on Wednesday that left Kylian Mbappé a picture of despair.
Hours before kickoff at Newcastle, which was struggling when bought by the Saudi sovereign wealth fund just two years ago, the kingdom became the strong favorite to host the 2034 World Cup in a fast-track bidding contest opened by FIFA.
On the field, a Newcastle team fueled by the fervor of its passionate fans, swept aside Mbappé and a PSG team bought by Saudi neighbor Qatar 12 years ago after it was picked as 2022 World Cup host.
Newcastle has raced to the top of the tough Group F where seven-time European champion AC Milan drew 0-0 at Borussia Dortmund, the 1997 title winner.
Manchester City further restored Premier League pride one day after Arsenal and Manchester United both lost their games in the second round of the group stage.
City won 3-1 at Leipzig and the Abu Dhabi-backed defending champion already looks comfortable atop the Group G standings with lower-ranked Red Star Belgrade and Young Boys drawing 2-2.
Barcelona also earned a second straight win, 1-0 at Porto where the Spanish team’s starlet Lamine Yamal became the youngest player to start a European Cup game in the 68-year history of the competition at 16 years, 83 days.
Lazio scored a stoppage-time winning goal at Celtic in a 2-1 victory to join Atletico Madrid on four points in Group E. Atletico trailed twice before outlasting Feyenoord in a 3-2 win.
Shakhtar Donetsk also won 3-2 after trailing at Royal Antwerp, which wasted a 2-0 lead at halftime and missed a penalty in stoppage time.
Newcastle’s first home game in the Champions League for more than 20 years was pulsating in the famously atmospheric St. James’ Park.
Investment from the Saudi Public Investment Fund has not made Newcastle universally popular but there was a feel-good, home-town story about boyhood fans Dan Burn and Sean Longstaff being among the scorers against the more expensively assembled PSG team.
“You can’t knock it. It’s a very special moment for Newcastle,” coach Eddie Howe said.
The win extended an impressive streak for Newcastle, including a 0-0 draw in the group opener at Milan, an 8-0 rout of Sheffield United in the Premier League, and eliminating Man City last week in the English League Cup.
Man City keeps cruising in the Champions League though. A tight game at Leipzig was settled by late goals from substitutes Julián Álvarez and Jérémy Doku, who each assisted the other.
Erling Haaland was again kept quiet while Phil Foden had given City the lead in the first half.
Barcelona and Porto can expect their home stadiums to be used as host venues for the 2030 World Cup, which Spain and Portugal will anchor in Europe as part of a six-nation, three-continent plan anointed by FIFA Wednesday.
Porto’s 50,000-seat Estádio do Dragão saw Ferran Torres score the only goal between the two teams after coming on to replace Barcelona star forward Robert Lewandowski who was injured in the first half.
Barcelona is not using its iconic Camp Nou stadium this year while it is renovated, and will be back at the city’s Olympic stadium to host Shakhtar Donetsk on Oct. 25.
Atletico Madrid’s Metropolitano Stadium — like Porto’s home, a recent Champions League final venue — will be behind Real Madrid’s remodeled Santiago Bernabeu in the 2030 World Cup hierarchy.
The Metropolitano witnessed a vibrant victory for Atletico, 3-2 against Feyenoord after twice trailing. Álvaro Morata scored two goals either side of one for Antoine Griezmann.
Losing 3-2 at home was the result of the week in the Champions League, happening once on Wednesday after three times on Tuesday.
Royal Antwerp was the latest victim, in its first ever home game in the Champions League groups at its 100-year-old Bosuil Stadium.
Antwerp let slip a 2-0 first-half lead against Shakhtar Donetsk, just as Union Berlin did on Tuesday against Braga. Danylo Sikan scored twice for Shakhtar including the go-ahead goal in the 76th.
A missed penalty with the last kick of the game by veteran defender Toby Alderweireld wasted a chance for the Belgian champion to take its first point in Group H.
The other 3-2 losers at home on Tuesday were Napoli against Real Madrid, and Manchester United against Galatasaray.
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