Manchester United and Atletico Madrid blew chances to make life easier in the next round while Spurs pulled off a miracle – here’s the UCL winners and losers
At Anfield everything is possible, and Liverpool have done it: qualifying to the Round of 16 despite having lost half of the group matches. But winning the decisive game is what mattered in the end, with Jurgen Klopp’s men putting together a pressing masterclass and scoring with the main man of the moment, Mohamed Salah.
Alisson’s save in the final minutes showed that it really was tough for the Reds, but they got the job done, and can look ahead to the knockout stages.
Spurs needed a win to make sure of progression, but a draw was enough at the Camp Nou, making the most of Inter’s result. Mauricio Pochettino was right: after the first group game, it really was going to be almost impossible to qualify. But Lucas got the necessary goal in Barcelona, and Pochettino cruises into the next round against all odds. Round of applause to Spurs.
In the snow in Ukraine, Lyon went 1-0 down but held on tight, fought back and equalised to make it to the knockout stages. Well deserved, after beating Manchester City in the opening match of the group.
CSKA Moscow did the unthinkable in Madrid, beating the European champions and therefore almost making it to the Europa League. But Plzen wanted their time in Europe to carry on and put two past Roma to secure the third spot and a place in round of 32 of the Europa League.
Manchester City had to win to make sure of the top spot in the group, but went 1-0 down at home. The young German confirmed his outstanding moment of form by scoring a lovely free kick, and then the second to win the three points for Pep Guardiola.
A self-destruct. The Italian side needed a victory to have a clean conscience and hope that Tottenham didn’t win. They only got a draw, without even trying to get the victory in the final minutes, lacking the necessary courage to push forward. It’s a pity, considering the early results in what was a very tough group for a team that started in Pot 4 in the draw. But for how it all panned out, Inter should have been in the next round.
Coach Carlo Ancelotti has no regrets, and rightly so: Napoli were punching above their weight, and almost made it out of the toughest group of them all. They were unbeaten before the Anfield game, and were knocked out having lost just once. But it happened, it’s football. Liverpool were superior in the final match, and the feeling is the Napoli players were overwhelmed by the pressure. Arkadiusz Milik and Jose Callejon could have scored, and we’d be talking about a different outcome now had they done so.
Ok, it didn’t count for anything. Top spot in the group was already certain. But Real Madrid losing at home 3-0 to a side like CSKA Moscow is always a terrible result. Will it impact the team’s morale?
Juventus lost against Young Boys, so the chance was there to top the group. Instead of winning, Manchester United trailed from the start to the end, going 2-0 down and never giving the idea of having the strength to turn things around.
Diego Simeone’s men needed the three points to secure the top spot in the group: they came out with a horrible goalless draw against Bruges, and now have to face the draw in a more difficult position.