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Liverpool, Porto advance but Real in deep trouble

By The Assam Tribune

PARIS, Dec 2: While former champions Liverpool and Porto eased to the knockout stage of the Champions League, record 13-time champion Real Madrid face an embarrassing group-stage exit after losing 2-0 at Shakhtar Donetsk. Zinedine Zidane�s side would have advanced with a win on Tuesday, but it has defended poorly all season and was undone by counterattack goals in the second half. Instead of progressing, Madrid dropped to third place in Group B behind the Ukrainian side and Borussia Monchengladbach.

Six-time champions Liverpool overcame injury problems to beat four-time winner Ajax 1-0 at Anfield, thanks to a second-half goal from midfielder Curtis Jones. Two-time winner Porto held already-qualified Manchester City to a 0-0 draw at home, although City ensured the top spot. No drama in those two groups, but plenty in Madrid�s as Gladbach missed the chance to advance after losing 3-2 at home to three-time champion Inter Milan, which had to win.

Atletico Madrid did not do enough, drawing 1-1 at home to Bayern Munich even though the defending champions fielded a weakened side having already qualified.

Munich rested prolific striker Robert Lewandowski and standout goalkeeper Manuel Neuer but still did well enough to stop the Spanish side from winning.

Atletico�s in-form striker Joao Felix faced less competition without Neuer thwarting him, and he swept in Marcos Llorente�s cross from the byline midway through the first half.

But veteran forward Thomas Muller equalised from the penalty spot in the 86th minute.

In Group A�s other game, striker Mergim Berisha netted twice as Salzburg won 3-1 at Lokomotiv Moscow to move into third place and prevent the Russian side from reaching the round of 16.

Salzburg will upset the odds and qualify if they beat Atletico at home next week, but Diego Simeone�s Atletico needs only a draw.

Madrid has advanced to the knockout stage in all 24 of its previous group-stage campaigns but things are looking tense. Madrid has conceded nine goals in five games for its worst-ever defensive record at this stage, losing twice to a Shakhtar side which leaked 10 goals in two defeats to Gladbach.

Brazilian forward Dentinho profited from a mix-up between Ferland Mendy and Raphael Varane to net in the 57th minute following a counterattack. Zidane�s players failed to take heed and the second stemmed from another counter as substitute Manor Solomon finished confidently.

Over in Germany, Inter had to win to have a chance of reaching the next round and the ever-reliable Romelu Lukaku saw to that with two goals.

Midfielder Matteo Darmian netted early on for Inter and French striker Alassane Plea nodded the home side level, only for Lukaku to net twice after the break before Plea replied again.

Remarkably, all four sides in Group B can still qualify.

Gladbach needs only a draw at Madrid, while last-place Inter advance with a home win over Shakhtar next week unless Gladbach and Madrid draw.

Porto needed just one point and was hardly troubled against group winner City, which has a strong record of 10 goals for and only one against.

Not so for Marseille, although at least the French side avoided the humiliation of a 14th straight competition defeat as Dimitri Payet netted two video-review penalties in a 2-1 home win against Olympiakos. � AP

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