Thu, Dec 13, 2018 - Page 16 News List

Salah strike sends Reds into last 16

‘FULLY DESERVED’:PSG got the win they needed to progress, while Tottenham lucked through after pulling even with Barcelona and PSV held Inter Milan to a draw

AFP, PARIS

SSC Napoli’s Kalidou Koulibaly, left, and Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson Becker battle for the ball during their Champions League Group C match in Liverpool, England, on Tuesday.

Photo: AP

Mohamed Salah’s first-half goal and a stunning late save from goalkeeper Alisson on Tuesday saw Liverpool edge into the Champions League knockout stage after a tense 1-0 win over SSC Napoli, while Lucas Moura’s late strike saw Tottenham Hotspur progress with a 1-1 draw at Barcelona.

Last year’s runners-up Liverpool knew that victory by two goals or a 1-0 triumph would put them through to the last 16 from Group C, and Salah’s 34th-minute strike proved enough as they finished ahead of Napoli on goals scored.

“Wow, what a game. I am not sure a manager could be prouder of a team than I am,” Reds manager Jurgen Klopp told BT Sport.

Liverpool grabbed the crucial goal, as Salah jinked past Kalidou Koulibaly inside the area and slotted the ball beyond goalkeeper David Ospina.

Salah continued to run Napoli ragged early in the second half, but Ospina saved from Jordan Henderson and James Milner curled wide, as Carlo Ancelotti’s men stayed a goal from turning the group on its head.

The atmosphere around Anfield became increasingly tense as the Premier League leaders continued to miss opportunities, with Ospina springing to his left to tip away Salah’s attempted lob before denying Mane from point-blank range.

Napoli almost made the Reds pay in the dying moments.

The ball fell for substitute striker Arkadiusz Milik unmarked in the area, but Alisson raced from his line to keep out the Pole’s strike with his legs.

“I have no idea how Alisson made a save like this,” Klopp said. “It was amazing.”

Meanwhile, Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) reached the knockout rounds as group winners thanks to a 4-1 victory over Red Star Belgrade, with Neymar, Kylian Mbappe and Edinson Cavani all on the score sheet.

PSG went into their match in Belgrade knowing that victory would send them through, and Edinson Cavani gave the French champions the perfect start by tapping in after an excellent run and pass by Kylian Mbappe.

Neymar’s strike five minutes before halftime appeared to have put the game to bed, but Red Star pulled one back before the hour mark through Marko Gobeljic.

However, PSG finally sealed their spot in the last 16 as Marquinhos headed in Angel di Maria’s free-kick with 16 minutes to go and Mbappe added further gloss to the scoreline in added time.

“We made mistakes, but I really liked the reaction after Belgrade’s goal. We controlled the match,” PSG coach Thomas Tuchel told RMC Sport.

Tottenham went into their final Group B game at the Camp Nou needing to match Inter Milan’s result against PSV Eindhoven, but Mauricio Pochettino’s side fell behind in only the seventh minute as Ousmane Dembele scored a wonderful individual goal.

However, Hirving Lozano gave PSV a shock early advantage at the San Siro to leave Tottenham heading through as it stood.

“I always believed it was possible to win the game,” Pochettino told BT Sport. “We fully deserved to go through with Barcelona. We were the best [two] teams in a difficult group.”

Borussia Dortmund snatched top spot in Group A with a 2-0 win over rock-bottom Monaco, as Atletico Madrid were held to a goalless draw at Club Brugge.

In Group D, Galatasaray secured a Europa League last-32 place despite losing 3-2 to Porto in an entertaining game that saw two of three penalties scored.

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