Another goal, another record

Real's Ronaldo scores in sixth consecutive group-stage match

AP

Cristiano Ronaldo has set yet another Champions League record, scoring in Real Madrid’s 3-2 win over Borussia Dortmund on Wednesday to become the first player to find the net in all six group-stage matches.

Madrid had already guaranteed second place behind Group H winner Tottenham, which defeated APOEL 3-0 at Wembley Stadium to reach 16 points.

Madrid ended with 13 points, and Dortmund and Cypriot club APOEL finished with two points each. The German club finished third because of a better goal difference and will now play in the Europa League.

Madrid led 2-0 after Borja Mayoral opened the scoring and Ronaldo netted his ninth group-stage goal this season. Dortmund equalized with two goals by Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, one in each half, but Lucas Vazquez got the winner in the 81st minute at Santiago Bernabeu Stadium.

Ronaldo, the all-time leading scorer in the Champions League with 115 goals, netted with a well-placed shot from outside the area after a pass by Mateo Kovacic in the 12th minute, curling the ball into the top corner by the far post.

“We wanted to finish the group stage well, with a win, and we did so,” Ronaldo told UEFA.com. “I scored, I helped the side win. It’s a nice goal and the record is important, too. I’m delighted.”

Ronaldo had scored 11 group-stage goals two seasons ago, the most ever in the competition. He also holds the record for more Champions League goals in a season after scoring 17 in 2013-14. Earlier this year he became the player with the most penalty kick goals in Champions League history, with 12, one more than Lionel Messi.

“Any football fan enjoys watching players like Ronaldo,” Dortmund coach Peter Bosz said. “His presence and desire to score is so great. He’s aggressive. It’s brilliant for any football fan to watch.”

Ronaldo had several other chances to score a second goal and had a strike disallowed for offside near the end of the game.

The Portugal forward has been struggling in the Spanish League, with only two goals in 10 matches, but has scored nine times in his six Champions League games.

Madrid was in control throughout the match on Wednesday, but Dortmund threatened in counterattacks with its speedy forwards.

Mayoral put the hosts ahead eight minutes into the match with a close-range shot after a move that started with a pass by Ronaldo to Isco inside the area.

After Ronaldo had doubled Madrid’s lead, Dortmund pulled a goal back just before halftime with a diving header by Aubameyang following a cross from the left by captain Marcel Schmelzer.

Aubameyang equalized early in the second half with a shot over Keylor Navas after his initial attempt was stopped by the Madrid goalkeeper.

Vazquez’s winner came with a low shot from just outside the area after being set up by Theo Hernandez with a header.

“We didn’t start well enough,” Bosz said. “We need to show that we can compete at this level and we did that in both halves. I think that’s good for our confidence.”

With nothing to play for in the final group game, Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane rested some regular starters, including Karim Benzema, Luka Modric and Marcelo. He also added some youngsters during the match, including Marcos Llorente, Dani Ceballos and Marco Asensio.

Madrid defender Raphael Varane left the game before halftime because of an apparent injury.

“Varane got injured and things got more difficult,” Zidane said. “We changed the setup and system. The final half-hour was great, we changed tactics again and things worked out.”

Meanwhile, England has become the first country to have five teams in the knockout stage of the Champions League after Liverpool completed a sweep for Premier League clubs with a 7-0 thrashing of Spartak Moscow.

Liverpool, which won Europe’s top competition five times, clinched Group E after Philippe Coutinho secured his first hat trick for the club.

Liverpool was joined in the last 16 by former champion Porto, Sevilla and Shakhtar Donetsk. Napoli lost 2-1 at Feyenoord and failed to qualify.

Liverpool was one of four English teams to top a group, along with Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham. Chelsea completed the sweep, signaling a revival by English clubs after years of underachievement since the west London club was European champion in 2012.

Here’s a look at what happened on Wednesday:

Needing only a draw to qualify, it was all too easy for Liverpool at Anfield, where Coutinho led Liverpool’s dismantling of Spartak with two goals in the opening 15 minutes before completing his first hat trick for the Reds in the 50th.

Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane (two) and Mohamed Salah scored the other goals as Liverpool won 7-0 for the second time in Group E and topped it by three points from second-place Sevilla. Spartak finished in third place and dropped into the Europa League.

Liverpool finished the group stage with 23 goals, just two goals shy of Paris Saint-Germain’s record of 25 this season.

“Nobody could imagine that it would go like this tonight. It was an all or nothing game for both teams,” said Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp. “We opened the game perfectly and after we took the lead we didn’t have to defend. It was a nice night at Anfield.”

Sevilla qualified for the knockout phase with a 1-1 draw at Maribor. In freezing temperatures, the Spanish side started poorly but recovered after the interval and equalized through Ganso to clinch the runner-up spot.

In Group F, Shakhtar Donetsk advanced to the knockout stage with a 2-1 victory over Manchester City, ending the English club’s unbeaten record in all competitions this season.

Already guaranteed first place, City was caught on the break and failed to become only the seventh club in Champions League history to win every game in the group stage.

“The game didn’t go as we expected, in the first half they were better than us and it was a deserved win for them,” City midfielder Bernardo Silva said. “In the second half we tried to come back, had our chances, but we are not happy. Even though we had already qualified, we wanted the three points.”

Shakhtar, which finished runner-up, took the lead in the 26th minute when Bernard cut in from the left side of the box and curled a shot inside the far post, beyond the reach of goalkeeper Ederson.

Eight minutes later, Ismaily sprinted to beat Ederson to the ball before rounding the keeper and stroking a shot into the unguarded net. City’s consolation goal came in added time when Sergio Aguero converted a penalty.

It was City’s first competitive loss since being beaten by Arsenal in an F.A. Cup semifinal in April.

In the group’s other game, Feyenoord rallied from a goal down to beat Napoli, which failed to join Serie A rivals Juventus and Roma in the knockout stage. Napoli ended third and headed to the Europa League.

Vincent Aboubakar scored twice to ensure Porto reached the knockout stage with a resounding 5-2 win against a poor Monaco side.

Both teams finished with 10 men after having a player sent off late in the first half.

Turkish side Besitkas, which won 2-1 away to Leipzig, finished top of Group G with 14 points. Porto has 10 and Leipzig will play in the Europa League.

Monaco reached the semifinals of the competition last season by playing some scintillating attacking soccer. But it has been a very different story this season for the French champion and coach Leonardo Jardim’s side was already guaranteed to finish last.

“It’s sad not to be continuing in the Champions League but that’s football. Now we have to focus on the league and the two domestic cups,” Monaco’s top scorer Radamel Falcao said. “Our team changed a lot in the summer and we need time to get stronger.”