Five things we learned from the Champions League

Paris (AFP) – Five-time winners Liverpool romped into the Champions League last 16 on Wednesday, while Shakhtar Donetsk, Porto and Sevilla also joined them in the knockout stage.

Here, AFP Sport looks at five things we learned from the final day of group-stage matches:

Liverpool’s ‘fab four’ ready for latter stages

Needing only to avoid defeat against Spartak Moscow at Anfield to reach the last 16 for the first time in nine years, Liverpool hammered the Russian champions 7-0 to win Group E and send out a statement of intent to future opponents.

Jurgen Klopp named an attacking side featuring Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino, Mohamed Salah and Philippe Coutinho as captain, and they repaid his faith in style. Coutinho scored his first Liverpool hat-trick, while Mane, Firmino and Salah all found the net to leave the ‘fab four’ with 45 goals between them this season.

On this evidence, the group runners-up, including Real Madrid and Bayern Munich, could do worse than to avoid Liverpool in Monday’s last-16 draw.

Ronaldo still breaking records

Real Madrid’s domestic woes continued at the weekend as they failed to take advantage of a Barcelona slip-up by being held at Athletic Bilbao. World Player of the Year Ronaldo has only found the net twice in 10 La Liga games this season, but he broke two more Champions League records in the 3-2 win over Borussia Dortmund. 

The competition’s all-time leading scorer became the first player to ever score in all six group games of a season, while also drawing level with old rival Lionel Messi on 60 group-stage goals in total.

If Real are going to buck current form and win a third straight European crown, they’ll need Ronaldo to extend his season-leading tally of nine Champions League strikes.

Talented Napoli disappoint

Serie A high-flyers Napoli dropped into the Europa League as Shakhtar Donetsk’s victory over Premier League leaders Manchester City rendered their 2-1 loss at Feyenoord effectively a dead rubber.

Maurizio Sarri’s Napoli left their mark on the Champions League, with enterprising displays in back-to-back defeats by City, but ultimately disappointed by also losing to Feyenoord and Shakhtar. 

They can now focus fully on their tilt at a first league title since 1990, after losing top spot with a 1-0 loss to Juventus at the weekend.

Monaco misery intensifies

French champions Monaco were dumped out of Europe two weeks ago with a 4-1 home loss to RB Leipzig and, after naming a much-changed team, were pitiful once more in a 5-2 thrashing at Porto as the Portuguese league leaders eased through.

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