Paris, December 2
While former champions Liverpool and Porto eased to the knockout stage of the Champions League, record 13-time champions Real Madrid face an embarrassing group-stage exit after losing 2-0 at Shakhtar Donetsk. Zinedine Zidane’s side would have advanced with a win on Tuesday, but they have defended poorly all season and were undone by counter-attack goals in the second half. Instead of progressing, Madrid dropped to third place in Group B behind the Ukrainian side and Borussia Monchengladbach.
Six-time champions Liverpool overcame injury problems to beat four-time winners Ajax 1-0 at Anfield, thanks to a second-half goal from midfielder Curtis Jones.
Two-time winners Porto held already-qualified Manchester City to a 0-0 draw at home, although City ensured the top spot.
No drama in those two groups, but plenty in Madrid’s as Gladbach missed the chance to advance after losing 3-2
at home to three-time champions Inter Milan, who had to win.
Atletico Madrid did not do enough, drawing 1-1 at home to Bayern Munich even though the defending champions fielded a weakened side having already qualified.
Munich rested prolific striker Robert Lewandowski and standout goalkeeper Manuel Neuer but still did well enough to stop the Spanish side winning.
Atletico’s in-form striker Joao Felix faced less competition without Neuer thwarting him, and he swept in Marcos Llorente’s cross from the byline midway through the first half. But veteran forward Thomas Mueller equalised from the penalty spot in the 86th minute.
Zidane in ‘danger’
Madrid: Kyiv’s Olympic Stadium was the scene of Zidane’s last stand as Real Madrid coach before resigning in stunning fashion in May 2018 and the arena could spell the start of the end for his second tenure after Tuesday’s defeat by Shakhtar Donetsk. The loss left Madrid potentially staring at an exit from the Champions League group stage for the first time but even if they manage to beat Moenchengladbach next week and progress, it might not be enough to save Zidane.
Zidane shocked the football world by quitting as Madrid coach after winning a third successive Champions League crown by beating Liverpool in the Ukrainian capital in 2018. However, he insisted there was no chance of him throwing in the towel this time. But according to the Spanish media, Madrid president Florentino Perez may make the decision for him. “Zidane is in serious danger”, said newspaper El Mundo. “The defeat was so damning it was hard to count the number of people responsible. Zidane is tasked with fixing things urgently, but the coach may not even make it for the last group game. Right now his presence against Gladbach is at risk,” the paper added. — Agencies
- Results (group stage)
- Atletico dr Bayern 1-1
- Shakhtar bt Real Madrid 2-0
- Liverpool bt Ajax 1-0
- Porto dr Manchester City 0-0
- Salzburg bt Lokomotiv 3-1
- Inter bt Monchengladbach 3-2
- Atalanta dr Midtjylland 1-1