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Liverpool rout Spartak in Champions League

LIVERPOOL, Dec 7 (Agencies)
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Published on 8 Dec. 2017 12:14 AM IST
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Brazilian Philippe Coutinho struck a hat-trick as Liverpool crushed Spartak Moscow 7-0 to move into the knockout stages of the Champions League as Group E winners.
Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp fielded an attacking line-up with Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah in attack, with Coutinho playing behind them, and it was simply too much for the Russians to handle The five-times European champions took the lead in the fourth minute with a Coutinho penalty after Salah was pulled down by Georgi Dzhikiya.
Spartak allowed Liverpool’s attacking trident far too much space and they took full advantage in the 15th minute with a super team goal as Mane fed Salah, who slipped the ball inside to Firmino to set up his compatriot, Coutinho, for a simple finish.
Three minutes later, Liverpool added their third. Mane chipped the ball into the box, Spartak defender Serdar Tasci failed to clear and Firmino accepted the gift and confidently drove home.
But having given up a 3-0 half-time lead in their last Champions League outing in Sevilla, Liverpool were in no mood to drop down a gear and they put the game to bed within five minutes of the restart. James Milner whipped in a cross from the left which Mane met first-time with an unstoppable volley and then a deflected shot from Coutinho completed his hat-trick to make it 5-0.
Mane got his second when he scooped in a low cross from Georginio Wijanaldum in the 76th minute, and then Salah, who had been outstanding all evening, made it 7-0, blasting home after some typically clever footwork in the box.  It is Liverpool’s second 7-0 win in the group following their victory by the same scoreline against Maribor in Slovenia in October. Spartak finish third in the group, behind second-placed Sevilla, and move into the Europa League.
Shakhtar beat Man City to reach last 16
Shakhtar Donetsk booked a Champions League knockout-stage berth after first-half goals by Brazilians Bernard and Ismaily gave the Ukrainian side a 2-1 win over Manchester City. City  finished top with 15 points, three more than Shakhtar and nine ahead of third-placed Napoli who dropped into the Europa League after a 2-1 defeat at bottom team Feyenoord.
With one eye on Sunday’s Premier League Manchester derby against United, City coach Pep Guardiola rested his entire first-choice back four and Shakhtar took advantage as they romped into a 2-0 lead before halftime. Needing only a draw to be sure of qualifying, the home side launched waves of attacks instead of sitting back as Bernard curled a superb shot from 15 metres past City keeper and compatriot Ederson in the 26th minute.
Ismaily added the second six minutes later, capitalising on Ederson’s error and beating him to a long ball by Marlos before stroking it into an empty net to delight a full house in Kharkiv, where Shakhtar played their group home fixtures. Taison twice fired narrowly over the bar either side of the break as Shakhtar kept up the pressure before late substitute Sergio Aguero netted a stoppage-time penalty for City.
Aguero blasted his spot-kick past keeper Andriy Pyatov but it was scant consolation for City coach Pep Guardiola, who had little to cheer on his 100th Champions League appearance as manager.

 
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