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Champions League: Liverpool barge into last 16

Thu, 07 Dec 2017

LIVERPOOL: Brazilian Philippe Coutinho struck a hat-trick as Liverpool crushed Spartak Moscow 7-0 early this morning to move into the last 16 round of the Champions League as Group E winners.

Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp fielded an attacking line-up and it was too much for the Russians to handle with a fourth- minute Coutinho penalty, a tap-in from the Brazilian and a close-range Roberto Firmino effort making it 3-0 inside 18 minutes.

Sadio Mane’s blistering volley two minutes after the break made it 4-0 and a deflected shot from Coutinho completed his hat-trick.

Mane scooped in a low cross from Georginio Wijnaldum in the 76th minute and the outstanding Mohamed Salah made it 7-0 as the Reds condemned Spartak to third place in the group and a spot in the Europa League.

Also advancing into the knockout stage were Sevilla, Porto and Shakhtar Donetsk.

Liverpool’s runaway win also ensured that Sevilla – who drew 1-1 at Maribor – would join them into the next round.

Porto won 5-2 at home to last season’s semi-finalists Monaco to qualify from Group G, while Shakhtar Donetsk beat Manchester City 2-1 to go through with Pep Guardiola’s men from Group F.

Real, bidding for a third straight Champions League title, edged out Dortmund 3-2 but are already guaranteed to qualify for the last 16 from Group H as runners-up to Tottenham Hotspur.

Cristiano Ronaldo became the first player to score in all six Champions League group-stage matches in a season yesterday with a first-half strike for Real Madrid against Borussia Dortmund.

The 32-year-old’s effort that flew into the top corner also drew the Portuguese forward level with his Barcelona rival Lionel Messi on 60 group-stage goals in total. It was his ninth this season.

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