Liverpool secure early last 16 UCL slot alongside Juve, Ajax and Bayern

November 4 – On a heated night at Anfield with the return of Luis Suarez and old foe Atletico Madrid, Liverpool stormed past the Spanish club 2-0 to join Juventus, Ajax and Bayern Munich into the last 16 of the Champions League.

The fixture will always be linked to the arrival of the coronavirus pandemic. Liverpool vs Atletico Madrid was one of the last major matches before the global health crisis forced the global game into an unprecedented shutdown and in last year’s match, a super spreader event, the Spanish eliminated Liverpool from Europe’s premier club competition.

This time, however, there was no stopping Jurgen Klopp’s team, who, through early goals from both Diogo Jota and Sadio Mane, dominated the match from start to finish with a swashbuckling performance.

The visitors were reduced to 10 men when Felipe was dismissed for violent conduct after 37 minutes, but even before the sending off Atletico had offered little resistance, overwhelmed by Liverpool’s all-round play. When a goal did arrive for Atletico – from the foot of Suarez – VAR chalked it off, much to the delight of the hostile home crowd.

With the victory, Liverpool cruised to a 25th game unbeaten in all competitions and can focus on the Premier League until February when the business end of the Champions League – in the form of the knockout phase – gets underway. On 12 points, Liverpool have an unassailable lead in Group B. In second place, Porto have five points and Atletico sit in third on three points.

“It has been an incredible group stage so far,” said Liverpool manager Klopp. “It would have been much better if Bobby Firmino did not have to go off with a hamstring injury. I wouldn’t have expected this when I saw the draw and it is pretty special, but we have two games to go and we will try everything to win them as well.”

Earlier this week, Juventus, Ajax and Bayern Munich ensured their passage to the last 16 of the competition. In Germany, Bayern Munich once again impressed with a 5-2 thrashing of Benfica courtesy of a Robert Lewandowski hat-trick, but concerns remain over their tendency to concede goals all too softly. On current form, Bayern Munich, and Liverpool, will be considered among the favourites to win the European Cup.

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