Manchester City beat Paris Saint-Germain 2-1 on Wednesday but both clubs qualified for the Champions League last 16 along with Real Madrid, Inter Milan and Sporting Lisbon. Gabriel Jesus tapped Bernardo Silva’s clever knockdown on 76 minutes to settle an absorbing match at the Etihad after Raheem Sterling canceled Kylian Mbappe’s goal. Before Jesus sent the crowd into Manchester, Neymar shot wide to give the Parisians a golden opportunity to put forward. Lionel Messi had a low-key game and Sergio Ramos, who was named as a substitute, was not called up to make his PSG debut.
Pep Guardiola’s City, having lost in the final last season, were guaranteed to win Group A, while PSG qualified in second place despite the defeat as RB Leipzig beat Club Brugge 5–0 in Belgium.
PSG coach Mauricio Pochettino, at City where he is being linked with a vacant Manchester United job, has insisted his expensive team is showing improvement.
“We have to improve,” Pochettino said. “I am happy in the process. Things are better than they were a month ago and much better than they were two months ago. Gradually the team will improve.”
Regarding the United rumours, the former Tottenham coach said: “We are living in a business that is rumours, sometimes positive, sometimes negative.”
– Guilty verdict and a goal –
Karim Benzema scored just hours after he was found guilty by a French court in a blackmail case as Real Madrid beat Sheriff Tiraspol 3-0 to enter the knockout stage.
The French striker scored his team’s third goal for a confident performance in Transnistria after David Alaba’s free-kick and Toni Kroos’ strike as Real avenged their 2-1 loss to the Sheriff in Madrid earlier this season took.
Real coach Carlo Ancelotti said the court’s decision, and the one-year suspended prison sentence Benzema received for blackmailing former France teammate Mathieu Valbuena with a sextape, had not affected the striker.
“We haven’t talked about this (court decision), he’s calm, it’s a topic about him that we’ve been talking about for a long time,” Ancelotti said.
The win sent the Spanish giants back to the top of Group D, two points away from second-placed Inter Milan, who defeated Shekhar Donetsk 2–0 to qualify for the last 16, thanks to two Edin Dzeko goals.
Sporting Lisbon reached the knockout stage for the first time since the 2008–2009 season as they beat Borussia Dortmund 3–1 in the Portuguese capital.
Pedro Gonçalves netted twice as Sporting got a two-goal win margin they needed to end the Germans’ hopes of advancing to the knock-out stages.
Dortmund’s campaign has been derailed by the continued absence of Erling Haaland with a hip injury and they will have to settle for a place in the Europa League.
Liverpool had already qualified for the last 16 going into their tie against Porto at Anfield and a brilliant low shot from Thiago Alcantara and Mohamed Salah’s sixth goal of this season’s group stage secured an easy 2-0 win. .
Atletico Madrid lost 1-0 to AC Milan at home after a dramatic late winner from Milan substitute Junior Messias, a defeat that sees the Spanish side bottom of Liverpool’s Group B.
Diego Simeone’s team will have to beat Porto in their final game on 7 December and will hope that Liverpool will win against AC Milan, who are just one point behind the Portuguese club.
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