Robert Lewandowski on Wednesday set Bayern Munich on the way to a 3-1 UEFA Champions League win over Salzburg as the holders joined Manchester City in qualifying for the last 16 with two group games to spare, while Liverpool went down to defeat and Olympique de Marseille became the owners of an unwanted record.
On a night when clubs marked news of the death of Diego Maradona by holding a minute’s silence in memory of the Argentine before all Champions League games, Bayern eased to a record-extending 15th straight win in the competition.
Lewandowski scored the opener just before halftime at an empty Allianz Arena, his 14th goal of the season and also his 71st altogether in the Champions League, leaving him level with Real Madrid great Raul in third place on the all-time list behind Cristiano Ronaldo (131) and Lionel Messi (118).
Kingsley Coman scored Bayern’s second and then crossed for Leroy Sane to head in their third, before Mergim Berisha pulled a goal back for the Austrian champions.
Marc Roca was sent off for Bayern, but they have a maximum 12 points and are guaranteed to advance as Group A winners, while Atletico Madrid sit second, but continue to toil in Europe this season after being held 0-0 at home by Lokomotiv Moscow.
Pep Guardiola’s City earlier secured progress as Phil Foden swept in from a Raheem Sterling back-heel to secure a 1-0 win away to Olympiakos in Greece, their fourth win out of four in Group C.
City had 21 attempts on goal and their bluntness in attack is a source of concern, even if their European progress provides a tonic to their mediocre English Premier League form.
“It will come, we would love to do more, but one day it will come and will break everything,” said Guardiola, whose side just need a point from their final two matches to top the group.
Second-place Porto are on the brink of joining them in qualifying after a 2-0 win at Marseille, which was the French side’s 13th consecutive defeat in the competition stretching over three campaigns going back to 2011-2012.
The Nigerian Zaidu Sanusi gave Porto the lead six minutes before halftime and Sergio Oliveira scored a second-half penalty after on-loan Liverpool midfielder Marko Grujic had been sent off for the Portuguese side.
Marseille, who had defender Leonardo Balerdi sent off, cannot now qualify for the last 16.
“We have hit rock bottom,” Marseille coach Andre Villas-Boas said.
Six-time European champions Liverpool are not yet sure of progressing to the next round after going down 2-0 to Atalanta BC at Anfield.
Three weeks after beating the same side 5-0 in Italy, Liverpool struggled with a weakened starting lineup, and Josip Ilicic put Atalanta in front on the hour mark before German international Robin Gosens got the second goal.
“A deserved defeat in a difficult game,” Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp said of the game.
Liverpool are top of Group D on nine points, two points clear of Atalanta and Ajax, who were 3-1 winners at home to Midtjylland.
SWEEP THE LEG: Poirier, determined to best McGregor, after losing to him in 2014, used low calf kicks to throw ‘Notorious’ off his stand-up game, before dropping him American underdog Dustin Poirier yesterday shook up the world of mixed martial arts, beating up the legs of Irish superstar Conor McGregor before knocking him out at UFC 257 in Abu Dhabi. “I’m happy, but I’m not surprised. I put in the work,” Poirier said, after the referee stepped in after 2 minutes, 32 seconds of the second round to save McGregor from further damage, after he was dropped by a fierce combination of punches. The 32-year-old Poirier was ranked second in the flyweight division going into the fight, but still rated a heavy underdog by bookmakers to beat his fourth-ranked opponent,
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