Liverpool and Ajax maintained perfect records in the Champions League this season to qualify for the last 16 on Wednesday, while a Paris Saint-Germain side missing Lionel Messi was held by RB Leipzig.
Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool blew away Atletico Madrid in a whirlwind start at Anfield, with Diogo Jota and Sadio Mane scoring in the first 21 minutes to secure a 2-0 win against an opponent that finished with 10 men.
Atletico’s Brazilian defender Felipe was sent off for a foul on Mane before halftime, as the 2019 Champions League winners made it four wins out of four in Group B.
Liverpool is now guaranteed to win the group, sitting seven points clear of Porto with two games remaining, while Atletico is another point back in third.
“You earn a lot of money to win Champions League games,” Klopp said. “The first target was to get through this group but we did it with two games to go.
“I didn’t expect we would be through after four games, but the boys did it and it’s really well-deserved.”
Porto drew 1-1 away against AC Milan, as Chancel Mbemba’s own goal at San Siro canceled out Luis Diaz’s early opener for the Portuguese side.
It was the first point for seven-time former European champion Milan, which has a slim chance of reaching the knockout phase in its first appearance in the competition since 2013-14.
Ajax continued its marvelous run in Europe this season by coming from behind for a 3-1 at 10-man Borussia Dortmund as Sebastien Haller scored his seventh goal in just four Champions League appearances.
A Dortmund side missing the injured Erling Haaland had Mats Hummels harshly sent off before the 30-minute mark after he slid in on Ajax winger Antony.
English referee Michael Oliver, however, then awarded Dortmund a penalty for a foul on Jude Bellingham following a VAR review, and Marco Reus converted from 12 yards.
Ajax equalized in the 72nd minute as Dusan Tadic nipped in at the back post to score.
Haller then headed in Antony’s cross, becoming the first player to score in each of his first four Champions League appearances since Haaland in 2019.
Davy Klaassen wrapped up the win from another Antony assist in stoppage time.
Erik ten Hag’s Ajax has scored 14 goals in four games so far in Group C.
“We want to annoy Europe’s elite teams,” Ten Hag said. “We’re not saying we are favorites, but nobody wants to get Ajax in the draw.”
Ajax will go through with either Dortmund or Sporting Lisbon, which boosted its hopes by crushing Besiktas 4-0.
Pedro Goncalves scored twice in the first half, including a penalty, while Paulinho and Pablo Sarabia also struck for Sporting.
Besiktas, which had Brazilian midfielder Souza sent off, was eliminated.
Messi missed PSG’s trip to Germany due to injury, and without him, Mauricio Pochettino’s side came from behind to take the lead before conceding a late penalty and settling for a 2-2 draw.
Christopher Nkunku headed Leipzig in front before Andre Silva had a 12th-minute penalty shot saved.
Kylian Mbappe set up Georginio Wijnaldum to tie the score midway through the first half and the Dutchman headed in another before the break.
A foul by Presnel Kimpembe , however, was spotted after a VAR review in the last minute and Dominik Szoboszlai scored from the spot to make it 2-2.
“We are disappointed, but our objective remains to win the group and qualify,” Pochettino said.
Leipzig was eliminated despite the draw, while Manchester City moved above PSG to the top of Group A after a 4-1 home win against Club Brugge.
Real Madrid is two points clear of Inter Milan at the top of Group D after Karim Benzema netted twice in a 2-1 win over Shakhtar Donetsk.
Benzema’s opener was Real’s 1000th European Cup goal.
In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.