LONDON: Jack Grealish scored a superb first Champions League goal as Manchester City survived Christopher Nkunku's hat-trick to beat RB Leipzig 6-3 in a pulsating Group A opener on Wednesday.
Grealish admits the lure of playing on the Champions League stage convinced him to leave his boyhood club Aston Villa to join City in a club record £100 million ($138 million) move in the close-season.
The England winger made the most of his first taste of the tournament's bright lights with a brilliant solo effort in the second half at the Etihad Stadium.
Grealish also set up City's first goal for Nathan Ake with a pin-point corner.
While City were snubbed by Cristiano Ronaldo when the Portugal superstar opted to join Manchester United, Pep Guardiola believes the younger Grealish is more than ample compensation and this influential display underlined why.
Nordi Mukiele's own goal had doubled City's lead before Nkunku got one back on a memorable personal evening for the French winger.
Riyad Mahrez's penalty made it 3-1 and Nkunku netted again before Grealish's moment of magic.
Nkunku's third was followed by Joao Cancelo's rocket and a red card for Leipzig's former City defender Angelino.
Gabriel Jesus rounded off the goal-spree as City celebrated Guardiola's 300th game in charge in fitting style.
There was more good news for Guardiola as Kevin De Bruyne impressed in his first game back from the ankle injury which had sidelined him since August 15.
Guardiola led City to their first Champions League final last season, but the Premier League champions were denied a maiden European Cup crown in a limp 1-0 loss against Chelsea.
Guardiola insists that defeat will serve as the "motor" driving City's challenge this term and they wasted little time seizing pole position in Group A.
Jordan Henderson's stunning strike ensured Liverpool came from behind to beat AC Milan once more with a pulsating 3-2 victory at Anfield to get their Champions League campaign off to a winning start.
The Reds famously came from 3-0 down to beat the Italian giants on penalties in the 2005 Champions League final in Istanbul, but should have made far easier work of disposing of Stefano Pioli's men on their return to top level European football.
Seven-time winners, Milan were playing their first Champions League match for seven years and were given a rude awakening to the step up in class but for a two-minute spell before half-time that threatened to take the game away from Liverpool.
Fikayo Tomori's early only goal was scant reward for the home side's early dominance as Mike Maignan saved Mohamed Salah's penalty.
But goals from Ante Rebic and Brahim Diaz turned the game on its head completely against the run of play.
Salah levelled the scores once more before Henderson's thunderous finish proved a deserving winner 21 minutes from time.
MISFIRING MESSI AND PSG HELD
Lionel Messi finally made his first start for Paris Saint-Germain on Wednesday but the French giants had to settle for a 1-1 draw with Club Brugge in Belgium to start their Champions League campaign.
Ander Herrera gave PSG an early lead at the Jan Breydel Stadium only for Hans Vanaken to equalise for the home side, who were excellent and thoroughly deserved their point.
Messi — who had played just 24 minutes as a substitute prior to this game — is still looking for his first goal for his new club although he hit the bar in the first half and tested Brugge goalkeeper Simon Mignolet after the break before picking up a yellow card for a foul on Mats Rits.
However it was not a convincing performance from the Parisians as coach Mauricio Pochettino lined up his star attacking trio of Messi, Neymar and Kylian Mbappe together for the first time.
Mbappe came off hurt in the second half and PSG, despite building a team with the aim of winning the Champions League for the first time, have already complicated their chances just of making it out of a difficult Group A.
LATE SHOW FROM MADRID
Inter Milan were made to pay for their profligacy as a late goal from substitute Rodrygo saw Real Madrid snatch a 1-0 win in their Champions League opener on Wednesday.
Rodrygo scored in the 89th minute with what was only Madrid's second shot on target. Inter had peppered their opponents' goal but were denied by a string of fantastic saves and some wayward finishing.
It was a first Champions League match back in front of their fans for Inter with more than 37,000 at San Siro, which is allowed to be at 50% capacity for games.
Sheriff Tiraspol lead Group D after beating Shakhtar Donetsk 2-0 on their Champions League group-stage debut earlier.
* With AFP and AP