Thursday, December 8, 2022

UCL: Frankfurt beat Marseille as Liverpool, Inter, Porto into Round of 16; Barca, Atletico crash out

First-half goals from Daichi Kamada and Randel Kolo Muani helped Eintracht Frankfurt beat Marseille 2-1 in the fifth round of UEFA Champions League Group D even as Liverpool, Inter and Porto marched into the Round of 16 in impressive style as early exits were confirmed for Ajax, Barcelona and Atletico Madrid.
Liverpool rode out plenty of early Ajax pressure to emerge as comfortable 3-0 victors and the round of 16 qualifiers. Steven Berghuis hit a post after three minutes and Dušan Tadic was also denied, yet Liverpool were ahead at half-time.
Jordan Henderson’s outside-of-the-boot cross got the finish it deserved as Mohamed Salah scored a brilliant goal. Darwin Núñez, who hit the post in the first session, got on the mark early in the second half with a show of strength and guile to head in from a corner. Harvey Elliott smashed into the roof of the net to make it three.
In the same Group A, Napoli got the better of Scotland’s Rangers with a 3-0 win.
Giovanni Simeone scored twice in a blistering opening 16 minutes as a much-changed Napoli swept aside Rangers to stay top of Group A with a 12th straight win in all competitions. Simeone ran away from Ben Davies to thump in a low shot before meeting Mário Rui’s wonderful cross with a powerful header. Rangers improved after the break, with Alfredo Morelos missing a great chance at the far post, but allowed Leo Ostigard a free header for a late third.
Porto advanced with a 4-0 win at Club Brugge, avenging their defeat earlier in the event.
The visitors, beaten 4-0 by Club Brugge on Matchday 2, gave their Belgian hosts a taste of their own medicine. Mehdi Taremi scored two and set up another for Stephen Eustaquio, while there was a first Champions League goal for Evanilson as Porto ran riot against a team that had not conceded in the group stage before Wednesday night.
The Dragons were also indebted to Diogo Costa, who saved Hans Vanaken’s penalty with the score 1-0 and then, when it was retaken because of encroachment, dived the other way to deny Noa Lang.
Inter made things look easy as they booked their last-16 berth at the expense of Barcelona, who lost 0-3 to Bayern Munich, who lead Group C with five wins from five matches.
In Milan, Jindrich Stanek had already pulled off a fine double save when Henrikh Mkhitaryan headed the hosts in front after 35 minutes, and it was one-way traffic thereafter. The indefatigable Federico Dimarco laid the ball on a plate for Edin Dzeko to make it 2-0, and the 36-year-old added his second and Inter’s third with a consummate finish midway through the second half. The returning Romelu Lukaku iced the cake with a vintage fourth.
In Group D, Tottenham Hotspur were held 1-1 by Sporting Lisbon while Frankfurt overcame Marseille.
Frankfurt kept alive their hopes of progressing from Group D with a narrow victory. Daichi Kamada set the competition debutants on their way with an early strike following Jesper Lindstrøm’s clever dummy, but it was soon cancelled out by Matteo Guendouzi’s smart back-post volley. Randal Kolo Muani restored Frankfurt’s lead moments later and the hosts survived a second-half onslaught to leave the section with all to play going into Matchday 6.
Spurs’ hopes of qualifying for the knockout stages are on a knife edge after a costly draw. Former Tottenham man Marcus Edwards gave the visitors the lead midway through the first half but the home side responded emphatically after the break, levelling through Rodrigo Bentancur nine minutes from time.
Antonio Conte’s charges pushed desperately for a winner and they thought they had found it in the 95th minute when Harry Kane netted, only to be ruled offside.
Both FC Barcelona and Atletico Madrid crashed out of the UEFA Champions League on a bad night for La Liga, with Barca crashing to defeat and Atletico held to a draw at home.
Inter Milan’s 4-0 home win over Viktoria Plzen meant that Barcelona were knocked out of the Champions League and condemned to a place in the Europa League. Barca lost 3-0 at home to Bayern Munich after being outplayed by the Germans for most of the game and failing to manage a single shot on target in the game.

Bayern Munich’s Sadio Mane scores their first goal during the champions league against Barcelona. (Reuters)
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