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Atalanta, Atletico Madrid complete Champions League lineup

For the first time in history only five countries will be represented in the last 16 of the Champions League

By: AP | Milan | Published: December 12, 2019 8:38:48 am
Joao Felix celebrates scoring Atletico Madrid’s first goal with teammates. (REUTERS) 

For the first time in history only five countries will be represented in the last 16 of the Champions League. Atalanta and Atletico Madrid became the last two teams to qualify for the knockout stages on Wednesday, meaning all 16 teams are from Europe’s “big five” of Italy, Spain, Germany, England, and France.

Champions League newcomer Atalanta advanced with a 3-0 win at 10-man Shakhtar Donetsk, completing an improbable turnaround after losing its first three group matches.

“I can’t find the words to describe this unique feeling,” Atalanta captain Alejandro “Papu” Gomez said. “This will remain in the history of the club and in the history of football.”

Atletico Madrid grabbed the final spot by beating Lokomotiv Moscow 2-0.

FIRST-TIMERS

Atalanta knew it needed a win to overtake Shakhtar and took the lead through Timothy Castagne in the 66th minute. Mario Pasalic doubled Atalanta’s tally shortly after Shakhtar defender Dodo was sent off for a slap on Remo Freuler. Robin Gosens sealed the result in stoppage time.

Atalanta finished second in Group C with seven points in its debut season in the competition. Group winner Manchester City beat Dinamo Zagreb 4-1, which meant Shakthar finished third in the group and will enter the Europa League knockout stage.

ATLETICO ADVANCES

Teenage forward Joao Felix and defender Felipe scored a goal in each half to help Atletico clinch second place in Group D. Juventus advanced as the group winner. Atletico would have advanced even with a loss as Bayer Leverkusen lost 2-0 to Juventus.

Juventus was already assured of topping Group D and seemed sluggish at times in Germany, before Ronaldo scored from close range off substitute Paulo Dybala’s cross in the 75th minute. It was the Portuguese star’s second goal in the Champions League this season.

PERFECT BAYERN

Bayern Munich finished the group stage as the only team to win all its matches after beating Tottenham 3-1 in a game between two already-qualified sides. Two-and-a-half months after getting thrashed 7-2 by Bayern in London, Tottenham at least managed to keep the scoreline respectable as recently hired manager Jose Mourinho fielded a weakened lineup with his team guaranteed second place.

Kingsley Coman and Thomas Muller scored for Bayern in the first half, either side of a first goal for Tottenham by offseason signing Ryan Sessegnon. Philippe Coutinho, who struck the crossbar with a long-range effort in the first half, curled home a third goal in the 64th minute to clinch a sixth straight win in Group B for Bayern, whose poor recent form in the Bundesliga has seen Germany’s biggest team slip to seventh place.

ASSISTANT NEYMAR

Neymar scored one goal and helped create three more as Paris Saint-Germain completed its group campaign with a 5-0 win over Galatasaray. Neymar even started the move which led to his goal just after halftime, finding Kylian Mbappe with a pass and taking the France star’s back-heeled return before rifling the ball into the top corner from inside the area.

PSG was already qualified before the game as group winner and topped Group A with 16 points, five ahead of second-place Real Madrid, which won 3-1 at Club Brugge.

Club Brugge finished above Galatasaray and in the third spot to qualify for the Europa League.

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