Football

Liverpool negotiates tricky Salzburg, seals spot in last 16

Stunner: Mohamed Salah rounds Salzburg ’keeper Cican Stankovic and scores Liverpool’s second from an impossible angle.

Stunner: Mohamed Salah rounds Salzburg ’keeper Cican Stankovic and scores Liverpool’s second from an impossible angle.  

Shock group stage exits for Ajax and Inter Milan

Holder Liverpool safely negotiated Tuesday’s trip to Salzburg to take its place in the last 16 of this season’s UEFA Champions League while Chelsea is also through, but Ajax suffered a shock group-stage exit.

Six clubs secured spots in the draw for the first knockout round in its final group games, with Ajax and Inter Milan the big names to miss out.

Jurgen Klopp’s side just needed to draw in Austria to keep alive its bid to retain the European Cup, and it duly beat Salzburg 2-0 thanks to two goals in two second-half minutes, by Naby Keita and Mohamed Salah.

The result allowed Liverpool to progress as Group E winner, with Napoli going through in second place, while Salzburg is out and drops into the Europa League instead.

“What a team,” Klopp told BT Sport. “What an effort. It was a tough game.

“We scored two wonderful goals. We could have scored six or seven which is crazy. We won the group, we won the game, all good.”

Napoli made sure of its progress by trouncing Genk 4-0 in Italy with Arkadisuz Milik scoring a first-half hat-trick. Dries Mertens converted another spot-kick in the second half to seal the win.

There was high drama in Group H as Valencia beat Ajax 1-0 in Amsterdam, Rodrigo Moreno’s strike taking the Spaniards through to the last 16 at the expense of last season’s semifinalists, and leaving their host stunned.

Chelsea progressed in second place, a point ahead of the Dutch giant, thanks to a 2-1 victory against Lille.

Chelsea, the 2012 Champions League winner, finished level on points with Valencia but came second due to its inferior head-to-head record.

Fati makes history

Ajax drops into the Europa League along with Inter, as Antonio Conte’s team contrived to lose 2-1 at home to a makeshift Barcelona.

A win would have taken Inter through, and it was fancied to get the result it required as Barcelona left out a host of senior players.

Carles Perez gave Barcelona the lead midway through the first half, but Romelu Lukaku fired in the equaliser.

Inter then missed chances to score a second and Ansu Fati showed it the way, the substitute netting an 86th-minute winner to stun the home side and become the youngest ever goalscorer in the Champions League at 17 years and 40 days.

That record had been held since 1997 by Ghana’s Peter Ofori-Quaye. Borussia Dortmund needed to better Inter’s result and it did so, beating Slavia Prague 2-1.

The results: Group E: Salzburg 0 lost to Liverpool 2 (Keita 57, Salah 58); Napoli 4 bt Genk 0 (Milik 3, 26, 38-pen, Mertens 75-pen).

Group F: Borussia Dortmund 2 (Sancho 10, Brandt 61) bt Slavia Prague 1 (Soucek 43); Inter Milan 1 (Lukaku 44) lost to Barcelona 2 (C. Perez 23, Fati 87).

Group G: Benfica 3 (Cervi 47, Pizzi 57-pen, Azmoun 79-og) bt Zenit Saint Petersburg 0; Lyon 2 (Aouar 50, Depay 82) drew with RB Leipzig 2 (Forsberg 9-pen, Werner 33-pen).

Group H: Ajax 0 lost to Valencia 1 (Rodrigo 24); Chelsea 2 (Abraham 19, Azpilicueta 35) bt Lille 1 (Remy 78).

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Printable version | Feb 25, 2020 12:12:22 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/football/liverpool-negotiates-tricky-salzburg-seals-spot-in-last-16/article30279700.ece

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