UEFA Champions League wrap: Gladbach, Madrid sides take final spots
The UEFA Champions League field is set for Monday’s Round of 16 draw after Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid scored wins and losing Borussia Monchengladbach got help to claim their place in the next stage of the 2020-21 tournament.
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That means American teen Joe Scally, who is set to join Gladbach from NYCFC in January, makes it nine USMNT players or prospects in the knockout round field.
Unfortunately, Atleti’s win over a finish-shy but controlling Red Bull Salzburg means we can’t say the same for Jesse Marsch and Brenden Aaronson, who instead move to the Europa League.
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Bayern Munich 2-0 Lokomotiv Moscow
Niklas Sule and Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting scored second-half goals off feeds from Douglas Costa and Serge Gnabry as Bayern sent its Russian visitors out of Europe.
American defender Chris Richards replaced Jerome Boateng for the final 21 minutes of Bayern’s win. He had two tackles and passed better than 90 percent for the group winners.
Red Bull Salzburg 0-2 Atletico Madrid
Jesse Marsch’s Salzburg got straight-up Simeone’d at home, holding 59 percent possession and taking 18 shots to Atleti’s three only to find themselves moving to the Europa League.
Salzburg needed a win but couldn’t find one answer to Mario Hermoso’s 39th-minute goal, let alone two. Dominik Szoboszlai was one of several Salzburg players to just miss the frame with dangerous chances, and Atleti’s Yannick Carrasco put the match to bed in the 86th minute, having assisted Hermoso’s earlier marker.
It was a great effort and American coach Marsch’s credentials will further burnished by the performance, a day after Simeone called Salzburg “a brave team with a great coach.”
Real Madrid 2-0 Borussia Monchengladbach
Karim Benzema tied Roberto Carlos for the most official appearances for Real Madrid by a foreign-born player with 527 and celebrated the occasion by scoring a first-half brace to give Real first place in the group.
Gladbach missed several good chances to score but ultimately was left to hope Inter and Shakhtar would draw in Italy.
Inter Milan 0-0 Shakhtar Donetsk
The 2019-20 runners-up and 2008-09 Europa League winners got help from Madrid to open up the second spot but neither found a goal to reward them with a spot in the knockout rounds.
Inter, instead, is out of the tournament and Shakhtar will fight for its first UEL crown in 12 years.
Olympiacos 0-2 Porto
Otavio scored early and Mateus Uribe late as Porto built a two-goal lead and were further buttressed by Olympiacos going down a man through Ruben Semedo’s 78th-minute second yellow card.
Olympiacos will head to the Europa League as the third-place team in Group C.
Man City 2-0 Marseille
Man City got yet another goal from 20-year-old Ferran Torres and one off the bench from returning Sergio Aguero in a decisive win over the Ligue 1 outfit.
Four of Torres’ six Man City goals have come in the UEFA Champions League, the Valencia import adding to the markers he nabbed against Lille and Atalanta last season.
Raheem Sterling’s 90th-minute marker rounded out the scoring in the latest start for USMNT backstop Zack Steffen, who needed to make just two saves and completed 18-of-20 passes on a 27-touch day at the Etihad Stadium.
The 25-year-old American goalkeeper had allowed just one goal in his previous City appearances, wins over Bournemouth and Burnley in the League Cup.
Midtjylland 1-1 Liverpool
VAR took away go-ahead goals for both teams, leading Jurgen Klopp to he may have been wrong to support the introduction of the video review system.
Mohamed Salah put the Reds ahead in the first minute, his 22nd Champions League goal for Liverpool breaking the club record he shared with Steven Gerrard.
But the Reds conceded a penalty and finish the group stage with a draw and a 4-1-1 record. Klopp handed a senior debut to 18-year-old center back Billy Koumetio at halftime and played young Leighton Clarkson all 90 minutes in Denmark.
Ajax 0-1 Atalanta
The Eredivisie side needed a win over the free-scoring Italian visitors and used 63 percent possession to take 12 of the match’s 20 shots.
But a 79th-minute second yellow card to young phenom Ryan Gravenberch sent Ajax down a man and Luis Muriel bagged a winner for Atalanta six minutes later to push the Bergamo-based side into the knockout rounds for the second-straight year.
Ajax heads to the Europa League.