Group B in the Champions League was labelled as the ‘Group of Death’ this year but Liverpool made it six wins from six and their victory away to Milan helped ensure Luis Suarez and Atletico Madrid stayed in the competition
Liverpool completed their perfect record in Group B of the Champions League on Tuesday night with a victory in Milan.
Goals from Mohamed Salah and Divock Origi sealed a comeback win for Jurgen Klopp’s side to ensure they made it six wins out of six in the group.
That victory was coupled with Atletico Madrid’s win over Porto in a bad-tempered encounter in northern Portugal, sending Diego Simeone’s side through in second place in the group.
It was a night which took in all the emotions for Atleti and particularly their striker Luis Suarez, who was crying on the bench after sustaining an early injury in the game.
Matheus Cunha came off the bench to replace Suarez and partner Antoine Griezmann in attack – the Frenchman opened the scoring in the second half, before goals from Angel Correa and Rodrigo de Paul.
Going into the final matchday, the group was finely balanced – even though the Reds had already sealed top spot in the group with two rounds of matches remaining.
In what was acknowledged as the most difficult Champions League group, Jurgen Klopp’s side were emphatic in securing two wins over each of Porto, Atletico Madrid and, on the final day, Milan.
Yet all three of their group opponents held ambitions of joining them in the Round of 16.
Porto led the way in second place as the evening began on five points, one point ahead of each of Atletico and Milan – the Spanish side in third spot due to their superior goal difference.
For Porto, the task was clear – if they won at home to Atleti they would progress to the Round of 16 and even a draw would be enough if Milan did not beat Liverpool.
Atleti needed to win and hope that Milan did not beat the Reds by a greater margin while Milan needed to win and hope for a draw in Portugal.
Fikayo Tomori had given Milan a first half lead against Klopp’s side, meaning they leapfrogged Porto into second.
Yet things quickly fell apart for the Italian side – Salah equalised before Origi hit a second half winner.
In a bad-tempered game in Portugal, Griezmann gave Atleti the lead before Yannick Carrasco and Wendell were both sent-off as each side were reduced to 10 men, in the midst of two mass brawls between the sets of players.
Porto had been the better side for most of the game and generating most of the chances, but Griezmann found himself unmarked from a corner to open the scoring against the run of play.
That put Atleti into second spot for the first time and as Porto flooded forward in search of a dramatic – and arguably, deserved – late equaliser, Atleti hit them with sucker punches.
Firstly, Angel Correa fired home a fine breakaway goal before de Paul added a late third, while Sergio Oliviera pulled a late consolation goal back from the penalty spot.
On a night when three sides occupied second spot, Liverpool’s win in Italy helped ensure Atleti would a remarkable second half turnaround to rescue their status in the competition.