One more play-off participant has been identified in the football Champions League. The fight between Porto, Milan and Atlético in Group B ended in favor of the Spanish club. Madrid beat Porto 3-1 away, while the Milanese were beaten 1-2 at home by Liverpool.
Of the five vacant spots in the Champions League playoffs, only one was played on Tuesday, which was claimed by Porto, Milan and Atlético. The tournament situation favored the Portuguese club, which was one point ahead of their competitors and in the final match of the group stage hosted one of them – a representative of the Spanish championship. The victory over Atlético guaranteed Porto access to the 1/8 finals, suited Sergio Conceizau’s charges and a draw, provided that Milan did not win against Liverpool, and such an outcome looked quite probable, even taking into account the fact that the Italian the team had the home field advantage.
She, of course, was much more motivated than the English grandee, who took first place in Group B ahead of schedule. In addition, Liverpool head coach Jurgen Klopp gave many leading players a rest. Virgil van Dijk, Jordan Henderson, Thiago Alcantara and Diogo Jota did not fly to Italy at all, while others remained in reserve. But none of this meant that Liverpool would play giveaway. Rotation by rotation, and the most formidable red strikers Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane were in the starting lineup.
However, before the match, Porto coach Conceizau had no doubts that Milan would beat Liverpool, and therefore did not believe that a draw would be enough for his team. At the same time, he considered the opponent to be the favorite in the confrontation with Atlético. “If you look at the composition of the Spanish club, it will immediately become clear who is the favorite,” Sergio Conceição said at a press conference. “But the ball is round. The one who is better on a particular day will win. “
Meanwhile, Atlético already in the opening lost to injury one of their most stellar players – striker Luis Suarez, who was replaced by Mateus Cunha. The Madrid people already have enough staffing problems, and here, at a very crucial moment, the Uruguayan was also out of action. Although Antoine Griezmann remained at the forefront, and it was the Frenchman who could open the scoring in the match after the most dangerous cross by Yannick Carrasco. First, Porto goalkeeper Diogo Costa coped with a correction by Tom Lemar, but the ball bounced in the direction of Griezmann, who almost reached him and did not hit the empty net, and Marcos Llorente was hitting at a very acute angle. A similar moment arose for the hosts, when Mehdi Taremi almost managed to finish off after a hit by Luis Diaz and a save by Atlético goalkeeper Jan Oblak. At the end of the first half, the Slovene had not yet allowed Marko Gruić to excel, but in general it is logical that the scoreboard was flashing zeros before the break. We destroyed teams better than we built them.
At the beginning of the second half, Taremi missed the target from an advantageous position, and soon the Iranian was already hitting, it would seem, correctly, against the Cloud, but he pulled out a dead ball with his foot. Well, on the 56th minute, Atletico converted a rare corner. Griezmann still did not fail his scoring instinct, and he closed the Lemar cross at the far post. Then the guests almost knocked out Porto when Cunha single-handedly dealt with two central defenders and threw Costa. The ball was already flying into the goal, but 38-year-old Pepe still saved the team. And then hostilities unfolded on the field. In general, passions raged in the first half, and in the second, the chief referee realized that it was time to put things in order. Carrasco provoked a mess by roughly pushing Otavio, and immediately received a red card. But the hosts were in the majority for only three minutes, and the next booze in the area of the benches ended with the removal of Wendell, under whom, as they say, Cunya skillfully set himself up.
All this fuss in the end played into the hands of Atlético. Madrid made good use of the fact that the enemy did not keep emotions under control, and practically didn’t allow him in the final phase of the match. And themselves, towards the end of the meeting, they carried out two effective counterattacks. Angel Correa and Rodrigo de Paul scored 3-0, to which Porto responded only with a goal from the prestige of Sergio Oliveira from the penalty spot.
In the parallel match, everything also worked out in favor of Atlético. In the 29th minute, Milan opened the gate for Liverpool, when defender Fikayo Tomori trapped a rebound from goalkeeper Alisson after a tricky serve from a corner. However, Salah quickly regained the balance and also showed agility on the rebound, when the hosts goalkeeper Mike Menyan struggled to repel the blow of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. And in the 55th minute, almost simultaneously with Griezmann, the guests’ striker Divok Origi scored the winning goal. Milan lost 1: 2 and became only fourth in the group. Atlético made their way to the 1/8 finals of the Champions League from second place, while Porto will continue their performance in the Europa League.
It should also be noted that a participant in the Europa League play-off has been identified in Group A. RB Leipzig defeated Manchester City 2-1 at home and finished third, although the German club would have overtaken Brugge, which suffered a major defeat at PSG in Paris, 1-4. In addition, the winner of Group D became known. Real Madrid defeated Inter – 2: 0 – and scored 15 points, losing only to Moldovan Sheriff during the tournament. The residents of Tiraspol won a ticket to the spring stage of the Europa League ahead of schedule and at the end of the Champions League, which was so successful for themselves, brought the away match with Shakhtar to a draw – 1: 1.