Dortmund, Chelsea stage big Champions League comebacks

(AP Photo/Ian Walton)

 On a night of big comebacks in the Champions League, Borussia Dortmund came from two goals down to beat Inter Milan 3-2 Tuesday while Chelsea erased a three-goal deficit to draw 4-4 against nine-man Ajax.

Napoli fluffed a chance to qualify for the knockout stage after drawing 1-1 home at home to Salzburg, while defending champion Liverpool held on for a 2-1 win against Belgian side Genk at Anfield.

Five-time champion Barcelona couldn’t score at all, with star striker Lionel Messi hitting the crossbar and having a late shot saved by standout goalkeeper Ondrej Kolar in 0-0 draw with visiting Slavia Prague.

Barcelona remains top of Group F with eight points and Dortmund is only one behind. But Inter has only four and is facing elimination.

While Messi failed to add to his whopping total of 113 goals in Europe’s top club competition, Salzburg’s 19-year-old rising star Erling Haaland made it seven in four games with an early penalty only for Hirving Lozano to equalize for Napoli just before halftime.

Memphis Depay continued his scoring form as Lyon beat Benfica 3-1 to stay in touch with group rival Leipzig, which tops Group G by two points after winning 2-0 at Zenit St. Petersburg.

Group H is up in the air, with Valencia beating Lille 4-1 to join Ajax and Chelsea on seven points with two rounds remaining.

NOT A BRIDGE TOO FAR

Chelsea fell behind after two minutes, then trailed 4-1 after 55, yet almost won on a wild night at Stamford Bridge.

Chelsea’s comeback charge was helped by Ajax — last season’s semifinalist — playing the final 20 minutes with nine men after defender Daley Blind and Joel Veltman were sent off in quick succession.

Substitute Reece James made it 4-4 with a 74th-minute equalizer for coach Frank Lampard’s side.

Chelsea striker Tammy Abraham’s own goal gave Ajax a second-minute lead before Jorginho equalized with his first of two penalties.

Quincy Promes put Ajax in front with a header while another Chelsea own goal — this time by goalkeeper Kepa — and midfielder Donny van de Beek’s strike gave Ajax a three-goal cushion.

Defender Cesar Azpilicueta pulled a goal back in the 63rd and Jorginho notched his second penalty in the 71st — awarded in the same sequence that saw both Blind and Veltman handed a second yellow card — to set up a rousing finish.

Chelsea even thought it had scored a late winner through Azpilicueta, but the goal was ruled out for a handball by Abraham after a video review.

Valencia won with four goals in the last 25 minutes after trailing to Lille striker Victor Osimhen’s 25th-minute strike.

Valencia equalized with a 66th-minute penalty converted by Dani Parejo — Panenka style — and hosts went ahead with an own goal by defender Adama Soumaoro.

Midfielder Geoffrey Kondogbia and substitute Ferrán Torres added late goals.

KEEPER KOLAR

Kolar kept Barcelona at bay with a string of fine saves, denying Messi with his legs in the 79th having earlier saved from the star forward and from Gerard Pique and Sergi Roberto.

Although Barca extended its record unbeaten streak in Europe’s top club competition to 34 consecutive home matches, the Czech side looked sharp on the counterattack and forced eight corners.

A day after turning 21, defender Achraf Hakimi — who is on loan from Real Madrid — scored twice and grabbed Dortmund’s winner in the 77th minute after Inter led 2-0 at halftime thanks to goals from Lautaro Martínez and Matías Vecino.

Hakimi kick-started Dortmund’s comeback in the 51st minute and Julian Brandt equalized in the 64th.

OXLADE-CHAMBERLAIN AGAIN

After scoring twice in a 4-1 win away to Genk two weeks ago, midfielder Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain scored the winner for group leader Liverpool.

Fellow midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum grabbed Liverpool’s first goal in the 14th and, after Ally Mbwana Samatta leveled with a header shortly before halftime, Oxlade-Chamberlain struck in the 53rd.

In Italy, Haaland’s 23rd goal in 17 competitive matches this season silenced the Napoli crowd. But Lozano then scored his first home goal for Napoli.

LEIPZIG LEADS

Leipzig moved to the verge of qualifying from the group stage for the first time, even with star forward Timo Werner only used as a substitute on a freezing night in St. Petersburg.

Leipzig’s breakthrough came on the stroke of halftime when midfielder Diego Demme hammered in a rebound after Marcel Sabitzer’s free kick hit the wall. Sabitzer made it 2-0 midway through the second half.

Depay went off at halftime with a thigh strain, even though coach Rudi Garcia said he wanted to stay on.

The Netherlands forward volleyed home in the 33rd minute from midfielder Houssem Aouar’s cross from the left to make it 2-0 after imposing center half Joachim Andersen netted an early header.

Benfica striker Haris Seferovic pulled a goal back in the 76th, but Lyon substitute Bertrand Traoré made sure of the win in the 89th.