Category: Champions League

Roberto Firmino: Liverpool will make Porto suffer

Liverpool striker Roberto Firmino says that the Reds could make Porto “suffer” in their Champions League last-16 first-leg tie.

The Merseyside club will play against the Portuguese club at the Estadio do Dragao in Liverpool’s first match in the knockout stages of the competition since 2008-09, after topping their group by scoring 23 goals, a record for an English club and a total surpassed only by Paris St-Germain’s tally of 25.

They were also one of four teams to remain unbeaten in this season’s Champions League group stages, alongside Tottenham Hotspurs, FC Barcelona and Besiktas.

“I don’t know if Porto are going to be afraid but we are going to make their life difficult and make them suffer,” said Firmino, who has scored 20 goals in all competitions, including six in the Champions League.

Midfielder Emre Can is suspended for the tie, although defender Joe Gomez has travelled with the squad after missing the last two matches with a knee injury and £75m record-signing Virgil van Dijk is also set for his first appearance in the competition for the club.

Keeper Loris Karius will be also be starting ahead of Simon Mignolet

Liverpool manager Klopp insists his side can compete with the continent’s elite after having beaten “Europe’s strongest football team” Manchester City 4-3 in the Premier League in January.

“I know it already, we can compete with them, I don’t have to look at them,” Klopp said. “Now we have to show that we are not only part of the competition, we are quite ambitious. That is how it is and we have to take it seriously.”

Another record for Ronaldo as Real Madrid strikes late to beat Dortmund

Cristiano Ronaldo set another benchmark as he became the first player to score in every Champions League group stage match as Real Madrid beat Borussia Dortmund 3-2 at the Bernabeu.

Real were set on their way by Borja Mayoral’s first goal in the competition, set up by Ronaldo, who quickly added a second himself for his ninth in the Champions League this season.

The defending champions of Europe took the lead after just eight minutes, when Ronaldo waltzed between two Dortmund defenders on the left and poked the ball across the face of goal where Isco helped it into the path of Mayoral, who clipped his finish over Roman Burki.

Ronaldo then put himself on the scoreboard when he curled in a lovely right-foot shot into the far top corner from the left-hand side of the penalty area to extend the lead after 12 minutes.

Both him and Mayoral could have put the match beyond Dortmund but a combination of wayward finishing and good positioning from Burki saw the score remain at 2-0.

Despite lagging behind by two goals, Dortmund took their time to get back into the game and responded through Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who had been anonymous before launched himself at Marcel Schmelzer’s cross to pull a goal back with a diving header a minute before the break.

It was not four minutes into the second half, when Aubameyang equalized from Shinji Kagawa’s pass that had found him unmarked on the edge of the penalty area and, after his initial effort was saved by Keylor Navas, Aubameyang chipped the rebound over the Madrid goalkeeper.

However, Zinedine Zidane’s team did get a third goal with nine minutes remaining when Lucas Vazquez found the bottom corner of the net with a curling effort from the edge of the box.

Dortmund would enter the Europa League despite collecting just two points from their six games, thanks to a better goal difference than Apoel Nicosia who finished on the same amount of points. Meanwhile, Real would learn who their next opponents would be when the draw is made on Monday.

Atletico Madrid drops to Europa League after draw with Chelsea

Diego Simeone believe that Atletico Madrid’s Champions League campaign was not a failure despite being eliminated on Tuesday after a 1-1 draw against Chelsea.

The Madrid team had needed the full three points in order to progress to the knockout stages as both Chelsea and Roma were ahead of them in points in Group C.

But their last group fixture saw the Blues dominated proceedings against the La Liga giants until Atletico opened the scoring when Saul Niguez escaped the attentions of Tiemoue Bakayoko to plant home a header from Fernando Torres’ near-post flick-on after 56 minutes.

Chelsea proceeded to pile more pressure and pour more men forward on Atletico as time ebbed away, and eventually Stefan Savic turned Eden Hazard’s cross into his own net as the pressure told.

With the game ending with the score tied at 1-1, Atletico — semi-finalists last season and runners-up in two of the last four saw their Champions League campaign conclude in a curiously weak manner.

“It hurts, and we’ve actually managed to get more points from the team who finished top of the group than the one who finished bottom,” added Simeone.

“This sort of thing can happen. They gave it their all to win and try to go through until the last minute. We’re fine. What’s important is to be decisive. You need to score. We only lost one game [in the UEFA Champions League], in the 93rd minute. No excuses – we’ll be rated at the end of the season.”

“I’m going to motivate the players for the UEFA Europa League as I would for a friendly, a La Liga game, a Copa del Rey game. When you wear the Atletico shirt, you don’t need additional motivation. It’s now a new challenge for us. New dreams to fight for.”