Matchday 5 of the 2023-24 UEFA Champions League season showcased thrilling match-ups, a few big results, and a host of jaw-dropping performances. Group F rivals Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) and Newcastle United ended all square at the Parc des Princes, with Kylian Mbappe scoring a last-gasp penalty to level the score at 1-1. Manchester United were held to a 3-3 draw by Galatasaray in Istanbul, which has left the Red Devils’ qualification chances hanging by a thread.
Manchester City pulled off a comeback win over RB Leipzig on Tuesday (November 28) to extend their perfect record in the competition this season. Real Madrid, too, made it five out of five after beating Napoli 4-2 at the Santiago Bernabeu on Wednesday. The biggest victory of Matchday 5, however, belonged to Arsenal, with the Gunners bagging an emphatic 6-0 victory over RC Lens at the Emirates Stadium on Wednesday.
With the summary of the top matches out of the way, let us take a quick look at the top five performers from Matchday 5 of the 2023-24 Champions League season:
#5 Gabriel Jesus – Arsenal
Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal booked their tickets to the Round of 16 with a smashing 6-0 victory over RC Lens on Wednesday night. Almost every Gunner on the pitch played their part in ensuring such a comfortable victory, but Gabriel Jesus stood out for his ingenuity and determination.
In the 13th minute, Jesus nodded Takehiro Tomiyasu’s cross into the six-yard box, allowing Kai Havertz to poke the ball home from close range. Eight minutes after creating the first goal of the game, Jesus got on the scoresheet himself. Receiving the ball from the amazing Bukayo Saka, the Brazilian center-forward dummied a shot to lose his markers before finding the back of the net with a right-footed strike. After Havertz and Jesus set the Londoners on a victory course, Saka (23′), Gabriel Martinelli (27′), Martin Odegaard (45+1′), and Jorginho (86′) joined the party to ensure an easy win in the English capital.
#4 Jude Bellingham – Real Madrid
Real Madrid superstar Jude Bellingham once again delivered a performance to remember in his team’s exciting victory over Napoli at the Santiago Bernabeu on Wednesday. The England international scored once and claimed an assist to help the Whites clinch the top spot in Group C.
The former Borussia Dortmund ace got on the scoresheet in the 22nd minute, expertly heading in David Alaba’s inch-perfect long ball from deep. It marked his fourth goal in as many games for Real Madrid in the competition. No Los Blancos player in history had scored in each of his first four Champions League games for the All-Whites.
Bellingham turned provider in stoppage time (90+4′), setting up Joselu with an exceptional outside-the-boot delivery. Owing to his stupendous performance, Bellingham took home yet another Man of the Match Award.
#3 Phil Foden – Manchester City
One of the finest attackers in England, Phil Foden played a direct hand in each of Manchester City’s three goals in their comeback win over RB Leipzig on Tuesday night. The reigning European champions were under pressure at the Etihad Stadium, as Los Openda had put the visitors 2-0 up inside 33 minutes. City could not respond in the first half, but bounced back with a bang in the second 45.
In the 54th minute, Foden slipped the ball through City talisman Erling Haaland, allowing him to do what he does best. In the 70th minute, Foden scored the equalizer, expertly controlling Josko Gvardiol’s low pass before steering the ball into the back of the Leipzig net.
City completed the turnaround in the 87th minute, with Foden’s cut-back once again proving decisive. He showcased excellent awareness to find an unmarked Julian Alvarez inside the area, and the Argentine made no mistake in taking care of the rest.
#2 Hakim Ziyech – Galatasaray
Turkish giants Galatasaray landed a killer blow upon Manchester United‘s Round-of-16 chances on Wednesday night, coming from behind to hold them to a 3-3 draw. Chelsea loanee Hakim Ziyech was the man behind the turnaround, although Manchester United Andre Onana must also share the credit for not making the job too difficult for the Moroccan. Ziyech scored from two identical free-kicks against United, and on both occasions, Onana could have done a lot better to prevent stop them from crossing the goal line.
The winger also set up Kerem Akturkoglu’s superb equalizer with a measured square pass from the right flank in the 71st minute.
#1 Joao Mario – Benfica
Portuguese giants Benfica have been in abysmal shape in the UEFA Champions League this season, with them still looking for their first win after five games. After losing their first four matches, Benfica produced a decent performance against Inter Milan on Matchday 5, playing out a 3-3 draw against last year’s finalists. And they had hat-trick hero Joao Mario to thank for their first Champions League draw this season.
He scored his first goal in the fifth minute, applying a first-time finish to Casper Tengstedt’s delivery into the box. Mario doubled his tally in the 13th minute, finding the bottom-left corner after intercepting the loose ball in the final third. Finally, his hat-trick goal came in the 33rd minute, with him directing Tengstedt’s dangerous cross into the empty net.
The Portuguese outfit had a 3-0 advantage going into the second 45, but their defending was a major let-down. They succumbed to the Italians’ pressure and surrendered their healthy lead, ultimately settling for a 3-3 draw.