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UEFA Champions League scores, takeaways: Liverpool, Ajax into last 16 as Manchester City leapfrog PSG

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Liverpool are through to the Champions League round of 16 after a convincing 2-0 win over Atletico Madrid at Anfield. Trent Alexander-Arnold was the star of a convincing victory for the Reds, who are guaranteed top spot in Group B, providing assists for Diogo Jota and Sadio Mane early on in a game that was effectively over when Felipe was sent off for the visitors before the interval.

They will be joined by Ajax, who came from a goal down to beat 10-man Borussia Dortmund for their fourth win from four. Marco Reus netted a penalty for the Bundesliga side soon after Mats Hummels’ controversial red, but the relentless pressure of an impressive attack told in the second half as Dusan Tadic, Sebastien Haller and Davy Klaasen struck in the final 20 minutes. Erik ten Hag’s men are the first Eredivisie representatives to win their first four Champions League group stage games. Dortmund now have Sporting breathing down their necks after they beat Besiktas 4-0 in Lisbon.

Manchester City are close to joining Liverpool and Ajax in the knockout stages after a hard fought but ultimately impressive win over Club Brugge. Riyad Mahrez, Raheem Sterling and Gabriel Jesus netted in the second half to move Pep Guardiola’s side five points clear of their opponents in third in Group A after an own goal had given the visitors hope in the Etihad Stadium. 

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In the other game in that group, Presnel Kimpembe conceded a late penalty as RB Leipzig earned a draw from the spot, Dominik Szoboszlai netting in a match where Emil Forsberg had wasted one chance from 12 yards out moments after Christopher Nkunku’s opener. Georginio Wijnaldum scored twice for Paris Saint-Germain but they have now ceded top spot in Group A to City. Leipzig, however, are out of the Champions League. Their only hopes of further involvement in Europe are overturning a three-point gap to Club Brugge.

Inter Milan picked up a 3-1 win over Sheriff that allowed them to leapfrog the Moldovan champions, whose hopes of a shock run to the knockout stages appear to be receding. Earlier in the day, Real Madrid had taken control of Group D with a 2-1 win over Shakhtar Donetsk, both goals scored by Karim Benzema and assisted by Vinicius Junior as Carlo Ancelotti’s side reached the nine-point mark. 

AC Milan, meanwhile, are hanging on in the race to escape Group B after they could only draw 1-1 with Porto, their first point of the group stages unlikely to be enough for them to qualify with two games left to play.

On Thursday, you can watch all the action from the Europa League and Europa Conference League, including Antonio Conte’s first match in charge of Tottenham, live on Paramount+.

Champions League fixtures

Group A
Manchester City 4, Club Brugge 1
RB Leipzig 2, Paris Saint-Germain 2

Group B
AC Milan 1, Porto 1
Liverpool 2, Atletico Madrid 0

Group C
Sporting 4, Besiktas 0
Borussia Dortmund 1, Ajax 3

Group D
Real Madrid 2, Shakhtar Donetsk 1
Sheriff 1, Inter Milan 3

Game of the day

RB Leipzig 2, Paris Saint-Germain 2: A thriller in Saxony, a game that swung one way and the other and was not decided until the dying minutes. Early on, it seemed Leipzig might blow their visitors away with the intensity of their press, trapping Angel Di Maria down the right and forcing a clumsy backpass that led to Christopher Nkunku heading home. When Danilo Pereira committed a foul in his penalty area, it looked like Jesse Marsch’s side might take an imposing lead only for a tame Forsberg spot kick to be comfortably saved by Gianluigi Donnarumma.

That gave PSG the impetus they needed, an impressive move through the heart of the Leipzig defense seeing Kylian Mbappe square for Wijnaldum to net his first goal since moving to the Parc des Princes. The second came soon after and from there, Mauricio Pochettino’s men had the opportunities to put the game to bed, chiefly Mbappe.

Yet as has been the case all too often in this Champions League campaign they left their opponents with a sliver of hope. That widened into a fissure when Kimpembe made a clumsy foul in his area. This time Leipzig made no mistake, even if a point ultimately proved insufficient. PSG are out of top spot in Group A but Leipzig are out of the Champions League.

Top performer

Trent Alexander-Arnold: There might be few more elegant delivery men in sport than the Liverpool right back, who drops dimes that defenders can only watch and applaud. His fizzing cross only required Jota to get the faintest of touches to direct it into the net.

Had it been anyone else, one might suggest that his second assist of the night was more shot than cross, yet Alexander-Arnold is so unerringly accurate that one has to assume he meant to fizz the ball right into Mane’s path for the Senegalese to deflect the ball past Jan Oblak. Those were two of four chances he created, a tally matched by the almost as impressive Kostas Tsimikas on the opposite flank, the Greek international looking to be an ideal alternate for Andrew Robertson.

Goal of the day

Unsurprisingly all of Manchester City’s goals were rather easy on the eye while Nkunku’s header saw him leap spectacularly into the air to reach Andre Silva’s cross. In second place, an impressive shift of weight and foot by Marcelo Brozovic that sent two Sheriff defenders to the floor before he rolled the ball into the bottom corner.

Still, the top pick was undebatable. First, appreciate the wonders of Benzema’s second goal in the flesh, then stare in awe at the map of the 23-pass sequence that led to the ball in Shakhtar’s net.

Real Madrid’s 23 pass move that led to Karim Benzema’s second goal against Shakhtar Donetsk
TruMedia

Surprise of the day

On first impression, Hummels’ tackle on Antony in the first half of Dortmund’s 3-1 loss to Ajax looked a bit too robust and probably a foul. You might not have thought it was a red card on the television screen, but when Michael Oliver gave it and VAR did not overturn it, you might feel that it was harsh but not worthy of changing. Yet the more you watched it, the more you wondered if an instance where the Ajax forward hurdles over Hummels was even a foul, let alone a game-changing incident that meant the German side were destined for an uphill battle against one of Europe’s most devastating attacks.

“I have no idea how you can give a red card, honestly,” said Hummels. “I have no idea. I have now idea how a ref, supposedly at Champions League level, can come up with the idea to give a red.” He is not alone in being perplexed.





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