A round-up of the first night of Champions League dishes including Man City and Spurs topping their respective groups, and Liverpool blowing a three-goal lead in Spain.
Man City is the 9/2 second-favourite to win the Champions League after ending their Group Stage home record with three wins from three, but they left it late.
When Feyenoord visited the Etihad on the back of a winless run stretching as far back as October (Eredivision and Champions League), not many believed they would be the team to end Man City’s incredible run of 16 straight victories, but they nearly did.
The well drilled and marshalled defence kept City’s fearsome attackers at bay for most of the match, until Raheem Sterling exchanged passes with Ilkay Gundogan, before chipping the ball over the onrushing keeper to ensure City advance to the knockout stages at the top of the group with time running out.
In the group’s other game, Napoli gave themselves a glimmer of hope of making the knockout stages with a 3-0 victory over Shakhtar Donetsk at the Stadio San Paolo. Goals from Lorenzo Insigne, Piotr Zieliñski, and Dries Mertens ensures the last qualifying spot goes to the wire.
In the final game, the Ukrainians entertain City at home knowing a point will be sufficient. Napoli knows that a win away in Holland will be enough if City can turnover Donetsk in their dead rubber.
Group H News: Spurs and Real Madrid Advance
What a turnaround by Mauricio Pochettino and his Spurs side. Heralded as the next stars of the Premier League, Spurs showed nothing but gums when competing in the Champions League last season, exiting at the group stages.
So when they emerged on the same side of the draw as the Champions, Real Madrid, and the 2012-12 runners-up Borussia Dortmund, the bookies were predicting a similar fate in the Group of Death.
But they’re learning.
Having already qualified for the final 16 thanks to their thrilling victory against Real Madrid in Wembley, Pochettino went for the jugular, fielding a strong side in the hope that they could galvanise and pinch top spot.
Dortmund, who have had a torrid Champions League experience this year, went ahead in the 31st minute thanks to a low strike from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, but Spurs fought back to win the tie with second-half goals from Harry Kane and Son Heung-min.
Kane, who is still not entirely fit, has now scored 46 goals in all competitions this year. The South Korean netted his seventh goal against Dortmund in his last nine games.
The champions go through in second place after a crushing 6-0 win against Apoel Nicosia in Cyprus. A couple of goals apiece from Karim Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo keeping the Spaniards in the hunt for an unprecedented third Champions League trophy in succession.
Group E News: Tight as a Duck’s Ass
Liverpool threw away a three-goal lead in Seville, and now need a point in their last game against Spartak Moscow to secure qualification to the knockout stages.
Jürgen Klopp’s side were three to the good in 22-minutes thanks to a brace from Roberto Firmino, and a Sadio Mane strike. But in what The Telegraph called brainless defending Liverpool’s backline conspired to allow the Spaniards back into contention thanks to two goals from Wissam Ben Yedder an an injury-time winner from Guido Pizarro.
In the other Group E game, Spartak Moscow failed to beat Maribor at home, drawing 1-1, in what will almost certainly be the result that prevents them from making the next stage of the competition. Sevilla will beat Maribor in their final game to put them through.
Group G: Beskitas Qualify For the First Time in Donkey’s Years
Besiktas have qualified for the last 16 for the first time since the Champions League transformed into its current format, 31 years ago.
The Turkish champions have sewn up qualification with a game to spare after a 1-1 draw at home against qualification hopefuls Porto, despite the Portuguese side opening the scoring through Felipe in the 29th minute.
Besiktas went into the half-time interval on an even keel after Talisca scored his third goal of the competition. Porto will join Besiktas in the knockout stages if they can beat woeful Monaco at home in the final game. The French side lost 4-1 at home to RB Leipzig, who can still qualify if they can grab a result against Besiktas, and Porto fails to find any points in their final match.
Borussia Dortmund 1 v 2 Spurs
Apoel Nicosia 0 v 6 Real Madrid
Napoli 3 v 0 Shakhtar Donetsk
Man City 1 v 0 Feyenoord
Besiktas 1 v 1 Porto
Spartak Moscow 1 v 1 Maribor
Sevilla 3 v 3 Liverpool
Monaco 1 v 4 RB Leipzig
1. Liverpool – 9
2. Sevilla – 8
3. Spartak Moscow – 6
4. Maribor – 2
1. Man City – 15
2. Shakhtar Donetsk – 9
3. Napoli – 6
4. Feyenoord – 0
1. Besiktas – 11
2. Porto – 7
3. RB Leipzig – 7
4. Monaco – 2
1. Spurs – 13
2. Real Madrid – 10
3. Dortmund – 2
4. Apoel Nicosia – 2
Champions League Winning Odds (Courtesy of Oddsshark)
1. PSG – 15/4
2. Man City – 9/2
3. Real Madrid – 6/1
4. Barcelona – 7/1
5. Bayern Munich – 8/1