Five things we learned from the Champions League

Five -time winners Liverpool romped into the
Champions League last 16 on Wednesday, while
Shakhtar Donetsk , Porto and Sevilla also joined them
in the knockout stage .

Here, AFP Sport looks at five things we learned
from the final day of group -stage matches:
Liverpool’s ‘fab four’ ready for latter stages
Needing only to avoid defeat against Spartak
Moscow at Anfield to reach the last 16 for the first
time in nine years, Liverpool hammered the Russian
champions 7 -0 to win Group E and send out a
statement of intent to future opponents.
Jurgen Klopp named an attacking side featuring
Sadio Mane , Roberto Firmino, Mohamed Salah and
Philippe Coutinho as captain , and they repaid his
faith in style. Coutinho scored his first Liverpool hat-
trick , while Mane , Firmino and Salah all found the
net to leave the ‘ fab four ’ with 45 goals between
them this season .

On this evidence , the group runners -up, including
Real Madrid and Bayern Munich , could do worse than
to avoid Liverpool in Monday ’s last -16 draw.

Ronaldo still breaking records
Real Madrid’s domestic woes continued at the
weekend as they failed to take advantage of a
Barcelona slip- up by being held at Athletic Bilbao .
World Player of the Year Ronaldo has only found the
net twice in 10 La Liga games this season , but he
broke two more Champions League records in the
3 -2 win over Borussia Dortmund.
The competition ’s all -time leading scorer became
the first player to ever score in all six group games
of a season , while also drawing level with old rival
Lionel Messi on 60 group – stage goals in total.
If Real are going to buck current form and win a
third straight European crown , they ’ll need Ronaldo
to extend his season – leading tally of nine Champions
League strikes .

Talented Napoli disappoint
Serie A high -flyers Napoli dropped into the Europa
League as Shakhtar Donetsk ’s victory over Premier
League leaders Manchester City rendered their 2 -1
loss at Feyenoord effectively a dead rubber .
Maurizio Sarri ’s Napoli left their mark on the
Champions League , with enterprising displays in
back -to -back defeats by City, but ultimately
disappointed by also losing to Feyenoord and
Shakhtar .
They can now focus fully on their tilt at a first
league title since 1990, after losing top spot with a
1 -0 loss to Juventus at the weekend.

Monaco misery intensifies
French champions Monaco were dumped out of
Europe two weeks ago with a 4 – 1 home loss to RB
Leipzig and, after naming a much -changed team,
were pitiful once more in a 5 – 2 thrashing at Porto
as the Portuguese league leaders eased through.
Leonardo Jardim ’s men look a shadow of the team
that shone en route to the semi -finals last term.
The departures of Kylian Mbappe , Bernardo Silva,
Tiemoue Bakayoko and Benjamin Mendy in the
transfer window decimated the Ligue 1 title-winning
squad. New signing Rachid Ghezzal summed up
Monaco’s recent slump with a red card for a
needless slap after being given a rare start in
Portugal .

Besiktas should not be underestimated
Besiktas would have been forgiven for putting in a
below -par performance at RB Leipzig having already
wrapped up top spot in Group G, but they completed
an unbeaten campaign with an impressive 2 – 1 win .
The Turkish champions rang the changes but were
still too good for Leipzig in Germany , as Spain
international Alvaro Negredo and Brazilian Talisca
scored in either half .

Senol Gunes ’ side won’t be easy to beat as they
embark on their first foray into the last 16 in 31
years, especially with a second leg in front of their
vociferous home fans . 

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