Champions League back with a bang, Seán Moran on new ‘milestone’ GAA report

Morning Sports Briefing: Keep ahead of the game with ‘The Irish Times’ sports team

Mauro Icardi celebrates his stunning equaliser for Inter Milan against Spurs. Photograph: Miguel Medina/AFP/Getty

Mauro Icardi celebrates his stunning equaliser for Inter Milan against Spurs. Photograph: Miguel Medina/AFP/Getty

The Champions League returned last night, and last year’s losing finalists Liverpool began their campaign with a 3-2 win over a disappointing Paris Saint-Germain side at Anfield. The hosts had seemingly conspired to throw away three points and a 2-0 lead when Kylian Mbappe equalised in the 83rd minute. However, the prodigious French forward turned from hero to zero as he gave the ball away in injury-time, allowing substitute Roberto Firmino to give his side a winning start with a deflected strike past Alphonse Areola. In the night’s other Group C fixture, Napoli were held to a goalless draw away to Red Star Belgrade. Meanwhile earlier Tottenham were rocked in the San Siro, as Internazionale came from behind at the death to take all three points in their first Champions League appearance since 2011-12. Christian Eriksen’s strike looked to have steered Spurs towards a sorely needed win, but a stunning late volley from Mauro Icardi and a stoppage-time header from Matias Vecino stunned the visitors and sent the Giuseppe Meazza into raptures. Elsewhere in Group B, a Lionel Messi hat-trick helped Barcelona to a 4-0 win over PSV at the Nou Camp. Tonight Manchester United start their campaign against Young Boys, with Jose Mourinho asking his side to adapt like Roger Federer when they run onto the artificial pitch in Bern. Defending champions Real Madrid face Roma at the Bernabeu while Man City play Lyon.

Yesterday saw the release of a new report by the ERSI into the lives of senior inter-county players, with the research highlighting - and confirming - the gruelling pressure and time constraints they are put under. For example, the report reveals players are spending up to 31 hours a week on their team involvement - with 40 per cent of those who contributed to the report saying that between club and county commitments they had no time off in 2016. As a solution, president John Horan has said the GAA should take a lead out of the IRFU’s book: “Is it time for us as an organisation to take on board a character similar to David Nucifora in rugby where we have an actual player welfare officer who ties in with our players who dictates what is appropriate or not appropriate for our players to engage in?” Meanwhile in his column this morning Seán Moran has suggested the report is a milestone for the GAA: “If measures cannot be taken to alleviate the pressures - on career, family and social life - Gaelic games are headed in one direction: professionalism.”

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