Champions League roundup: Eintracht Frankfurt reach last 16 for the first time | Champions League

Eintracht Frankfurt staged a second-half comeback, scoring twice in 10 minutes to beat the hosts Sporting Lisbon 2-1 on Tuesday and qualify for the Champions League last 16 for the first time, knocking the Portuguese club out of the competition.

Sporting needed only a point to advance and they took the lead when the winger Arthur Gomes volleyed in at the far post after a looping cross was headed on in the 39th minute.

Eintracht, the Europa League champions last season, hardly got a look-in during the first half but came out fighting after the break, needing a win to secure a top-two finish.

A handball by the Sporting captain, Sebastian Coates, in the 62nd minute gave Frankfurt a penalty and Daichi Kamada drew them level with a well-taken spot-kick.

The France international Randal Kolo Muani then powered into the box and drilled home the winner 10 minutes later to complete their comeback and secure second place behind Tottenham in Group D.

Bayern Munich completed a perfect group stage by beating fellow qualifiers Internazionale 2-0 thanks to goals from Benjamin Pavard and Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting in their final Group C game.

Bayern ended top on 18 points, eight ahead of second-placed Inter with both teams having already reached the knockout stage.

In Pilsen, Ferran Torres scored in each half as Barcelona eased past Viktoria Plzen 4-2 but both sides were already eliminated from the competition. Barcelona remained in third place in Group C behind Bayern and Inter and will drop into the Europa League. Plzen ended their European campaign without a point.

Barcelona, who rested a number of regulars including Robert Lewandowski, struck six minutes into the match when the defender Marcos Alonso poked the ball over the line.

The visitors doubled the lead just before the break when Jordi Alba deftly nodded the ball to the feet of an unmarked Torres who calmly slotted the ball into the net for a goal initially ruled out before a VAR review.

The Czech champions briefly cut the deficit in half when Tomas Chory converted a penalty after winning a spot-kick in the 51st minute before Torres nabbed his second of the night on the break minutes later.

Plzen responded with a glancing Chory header in the 63rd minute to potentially set up a nervy finish until Pablo Torre slammed a shot into the roof of the net on his Barcelona debut to wrap up the victory.

Porto’s Iranian forward Mehdi Taremi celebrates after scoring against Atlético Madrid
Porto’s Iranian forward Mehdi Taremi celebrates after scoring against Atlético Madrid Photograph: Miguel Riopa/AFP/Getty Images

Goals from Mehdi Taremi and Stephen Eustáquio helped Porto to secure a 2-1 win at home against Atlético Madrid to finish top of Group B.

Porto had already qualified for the last 16 but leapfrogged Club Brugge to finish as group winners with 12 points, one point ahead of the Belgian club who also went through. Atlético finished last, failing even to qualify for the Europa League knockout round playoffs.

Porto went ahead in the fifth minute when the forward Taremi tapped in a cross from Evanilson, registering his fifth goal in the Champions League this season.

The midfielder Eustáquio doubled Porto’s lead in the 24th minute, drilling the ball into the bottom corner after Galeno sprinted down the left and played a cross inside the box.

Atlético’s Antoine Griezmann found the net in the 68th minute but the referee had already blown the whistle for a foul from Rodrigo De Paul on Galeno in the build-up, while the Porto keeper Diogo Costa saved a shot from Angel Correa six minutes later.

The Porto defender Ivan Marcano scored an own goal in added time, but it did not do much damage to Porto who went on to seal three points.

Club Brugge finished second in their Champions League group after failing to win at Bayer Leverkusen, drawing 0-0 in their final Group B game.

Brugge had already qualified for the round of 16 in February following their first four games after emerging as the surprise package of the Champions League group campaign.

But a 4-0 defeat at home against Porto last week and the draw at the Bay Arena on Tuesday meant they ended on 11 points from their six games, one behind Porto.

Leverkusen finished third to take a Europa League place ahead of Atletico on their head-to-head results against the Spanish club.

Brugge came closest to victory when their Canada international Tajon Buchanan struck the upright shortly after half-time although Leverkusen were the more attacking and forced visiting goalkeeper Simon Mignolet to make some key saves. Mignolet kept five clean sheets in the six group games.

Furious Antonio Conte ‘doesn’t see honesty’ after VAR disallows Kane goal | Tottenham Hotspur

Antonio Conte launched a furious attack on the “honesty” of refereeing and the VAR system after a late decision overruled a winner in Tottenham’s 1-1 Champions League draw with Sporting.

Deep in injury time, Harry Kane knocked in Emerson Royal’s assist to set off wild celebrations that were curtailed when the video assistant intervened. Kane was ruled offside, and in the melee that followed Conte was dismissed for his protestations to the Dutch referee, Danny Makkelie, and his assistants.

Tottenham must negotiate Marseille next Tuesday to qualify for the knockout rounds when Kane’s goal would have guaranteed progress. “All the people came on to the pitch and the referee decided to send me off,” an indignant Conte said.

“Only for this. I think there are moments you can be intelligent to understand you have disallowed a regular goal because the goal is regular because the ball is in front of Kane and then … VAR.”

The manager chose to make a wider point about VAR and its effect on Tottenham’s season. “You know I don’t comment on ref’s decision but the VAR this season, we are not so lucky,” he said. “Until now we are only the team that has repeated a penalty. And every penalty I go to see if the keeper moves on the line and then I see it a lot of the time.

“I want to see a repeat of penalties in the Premier League … I think they create a big damage. I would like to see if this type of decision made with a top team in an important game.

“I would like to see if the VAR is so brave enough to make an unfair decision. I’m really upset because sometimes you can ask this situation sometimes, I think it’s not good. I don’t see honesty in this type of situation, when I don’t see this I become really upset.”

Sporting had led until the 80th minute through Marcus Edwards’s goal, only for Rodrigo Bentancur to equalise with a header. “Sporting deserved to stay 1-0 up,” Conte said. “Then the end of the game we deserve to get three points but now [after] the decision we have to wait to the last game.”

Conte appeared to ask the Spurs hierarchy for aid in pursuing his complaint. “I hope the club understands this and then in the right situation they also speak with the people they have to speak with because otherwise it is only the manager to speak. I think the club has to be strong because I repeat this situation creates big, big damage. Now we don’t know what happen next week. If we go out, then I want to see.”

VAR drama keeps Spurs waiting on last 16 as Bentancur earns Sporting draw | Champions League

The Champions League remains a cruel mistress for Antonio Conte. A manager with five domestic league titles to his name has still never been past the competition’s quarter-finals and just as he was celebrating Tottenham reaching this season’s knockout stage, the VAR gods intervened.

In the final seconds of time added on, the maniacal celebrations of scorer Harry Kane and his manager had matched each other, only for an interminable wait and a final judgment that Kane had been offside from Emerson Royal’s header just before knocking in the winner. It was all too much for Conte, his joy oscillating to blind rage. He was shown a red card amid chaotic, insurrectional scenes.

“I’m really upset,” said Conte, during his lengthy post-match diatribe. “I don’t see honesty in this decision. It create a big damage.”

“Of course we thought we’d won it, the way we celebrated,” said Matt Doherty. “I don’t really know what happened at the end.” He wasn’t alone in that. “It’s still in our hands,” said the Irishman, attempting a hopeful note amid such disappointment.

Whatever the discussion of VAR, Marseille next Tuesday must be negotiated for Spurs to progress. A horrible October, containing three Premier League defeats, continues. An early goal from Marcus Edwards during a brilliant first-half display from the former Tottenham youngster, put Spurs in jeopardy, only for Rodrigo Bentancur to nod home an equaliser. And for all Tottenham’s pressure, just as in Sunday’s loss to Newcastle, the goal they badly wanted did not come. There were again boos at full time, even if they were aimed at the referee, Danny Makkelie, and his colleagues.

With so many players struggling for form, Conte had made six changes. Lucas Moura was making a first start of the season in the latest attempt to make up for Dejan Kulusevski’s absence. Pierre-Emile Højbjerg and Cristian Romero added experience to midfield and defence with Doherty and Ivan Perisic supplementing the attack from wing-back.

Ruben Amorim is a manager lately linked with vacancies at Aston Villa and Wolves. Sporting’s 2-0 win over Spurs in September and this dogged yet enterprising display will further burnish his reputation. His team’s supporter base had travelled to London in numbers and filled the north London sky with odorous pyrotechnics and guttural chants.

Playing for their own Champions League lives, Sporting did not come to sit back. In an open first half they fed on Spurs’ anxiety. Enfield-born Edwards’ mazy runs were troublesome from the very start. Pedro Porro’s cross found an unmarked Paulinho in the 20th minute, only for the striker to lift the ball over.

Rodrigo Bentancur heads home Spurs equaliser 10 minutes from time against Sporting.
Tottenham Hotspur’s Rodrigo Bentancur heads home their equaliser 10 minutes from time, which ensured Spurs avoided a third successive defeat in all competitions. Photograph: Tony O’Brien/Reuters

No matter. Within moments, Edwards had danced past Højbjerg’s desperate tackle and his low shot beat Hugo Lloris. A fine goal from a player whose renaissance is one of the most heartening stories of the European season but almost certainly a disappointment for the Frenchman in being beaten from that distance. Edwards attempted a non-celebration celebration but understandably failed.

“All my family and friends are here supporting me,” he said. “I wasn’t going to celebrate, but I couldn’t help myself. It took me a long time to get here.”

While the 23-year-old had enjoyed his big night out, his manager was urging caution. “He can be very good but he must improve,” said Amorim. “He must sustain his first half in the second half.” Thrust to the margins, Edwards was eventually subbed off.

Lloris’s mistake was reflective of a poor, shapeless first half from Tottenham. Their half-time oranges were clearly served with Italian invective. Soon enough, Højbjerg forced a corner, and from that, after a penalty-box pinball session, Kane’s volley was saved well before Doherty leant too far back on the rebound. The increasingly busy Antonio Adán next had to save a Son shot.

Despite Francisco Trincão missing a decent chance, the weight of pressure remained with Tottenham. Moura dragged a shot wide, then Son Heung-min claimed an unlikely penalty. Desperation was taking hold, and Romero was lucky to escape a red card for a reckless-looking challenge on Paulinho.

As the game entered its last 15, with Bryan Gil on for Matt Doherty, Spurs had four up front, gaping holes left at the back, giving Flávio Nazinho two good chances, with Lloris unprotected. Amorim sank to his knees as Bentancur nodded in the equaliser from Perisic’s corner but when Kane’s “winner’ was ruled out in the 98th minute, Conte’s agony would be yet greater. And visibly, audibly so.

Spurs’ Antonio Conte focused on present but wants squad backup in January | Champions League

Antonio Conte has insisted his focus at Tottenham is on the present after he refused to be drawn on plans for the January transfer window.

Spurs host Sporting in the Champions League on Wednesday knowing victory in the Group D fixture would send them through to the last 16. They enter the match following back-to-back defeats and with injuries piling up, which led Conte to ask whether a busy winter market could be key to a strong second half of the campaign.

“I think the club understand very well the importance of bringing in important players, good players, in January. I’m not the person who has to explain this to my club,” Conte said. “If you ask me in January what happens when we have to play many other games, we will have to try to do our best.

“I repeat we have to take this big achievement of going to the next round tomorrow and take this opportunity to do it. We want to finish in the best possible way before the World Cup. My priority now is not January but to finish in the best possible way before the World Cup.”

Conte has spoken in recent weeks about the process Tottenham are on to become genuine contenders in the Premier League and Champions League. It was put to the 53-year-old Italian that Spurs have an opportunity this season with Chelsea and Manchester United under new management and seemingly in transition. But Conte refuted that notion.

“This season will be more difficult than last season because after the transfer market you have seen many, many teams have spent a lot. You have to face a lot of big teams. For sure there will be the time to speak with the club. To understand what is the best solution for us.”

Aston Villa keen on Sporting’s Amorim with Pochettino looking out of reach | Aston Villa

Aston Villa are eyeing an ambitious move for the Sporting head coach, Rúben Amorim, after receiving little encouragement from Mauricio Pochettino about replacing Steven Gerrard.

Gerrard was sacked after less than a year in charge and the club’s hierarchy is due to accelerate talks with candidates in the coming days. Gerrard was relieved of his duties soon after an embarrassing 3-0 defeat at Fulham but travelled back to Villa’s Bodymoor Heath training ground on the team bus and said his goodbyes to his players in the early hours of Friday.

Amorim has established a fine reputation in Europe after leading Sporting to their first Portuguese title in 19 years last season and his team will be well placed to progress to the Champions League last 16 if they win at Tottenham on Wednesday.

Sporting paid €15m to land Amorim from Braga and inserted a €30m release clause in the four-year contract he signed in 2020, but Villa are thought not to be deterred by the prospect of having to pay hefty compensation. It is unclear how enthused Amorim would be about the prospect of taking over at Villa despite the grand plans of the billionaire owners, Wes Edens and Nassef Sawiris. When questioned about the links on Friday, the 37-year-old said: “I’m Sporting’s coach and there’s nothing to say on the matter.”

Villa’s owners, together with the chief executive, Christian Purslow, and sporting director, Johan Lange,have collated a managerial shortlist which includes Amorim. They plan to whittle down their options in the next 48 hours with a view to appointing Gerrard’s replacement before next weekend’s game at Newcastle. Sawiris and Purslow were at Fulham on Thursday and given the result, performance and the reaction of supporters, who taunted Gerrard with a series of humiliating chants, the manager’s position was deemed untenable. Gerrard is thought to have known his fate at full-time.

Pochettino was Villa’s primary target but is thought to be holding out for a job that would allow him to continue to manage at the elite level after leaving Paris Saint-Germain. Villa had hoped they could tempt Pochettino with a lucrative contract but are thought to have been rebuffed after making an informal inquiry several weeks ago. Villa could offer a large financial package to Amorim, who earns about €3m (£2.6m) net a year, but it is unclear how willing he would be to sign up to a relegation battle. Pochettino has previously been courted by Manchester United and Real Madrid and is in no rush to return to management.

Mauricio Pochettino
Mauricio Pochettino, pictured here with PSG in March, is thought to have rebuffed an initial inquiry from Aston Villa week ago. Photograph: Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

The Brentford head coach, Thomas Frank, has admirers within the Villa hierarchy, notably Lange, with whom he worked in Denmark at Lyngby, but feels he has “unfinished business” at the west London club, who are 10th, and is open to signing a new contract. Frank is one of the lowest-paid managers in the league but the club are keen to reward him for a hugely impressive 12 months in the Premier League and are highly confident of keeping him. Villa, who are a place above the relegation zone, host Brentford on Sunday.

Gerrard won four of his first six matches but struggled to win over supporters. A run of eight wins from 31 matches this calendar year provoked concern at board level and anger among the fanbase. Villa’s owners have spent about £400m on the squad since buying the club in 2018 but have seen little return. Gerrard was unfortunate that Diego Carlos and Boubacar Kamara, summer signings considered coups and players he hoped would push the team into the top half, suffered long-term injuries in the opening weeks but the permanent signing of Philippe Coutinho, with whom Gerrard played at Liverpool, has backfired. Emiliano Buendía, Danny Ings and Leon Bailey, the trio of players signed to replace Jack Grealish after he moved to Manchester City for £100m, which predated Gerrard’s arrival from Rangers, have underwhelmed.

Villa’s first-team coach, Aaron Danks, has been placed in interim charge, after the rest of Gerrard’s staff, including his assistants Gary McAllister and Neil Critchley, were also sacked. Danks, born in Birmingham, worked as an assistant to Vincent Kompany at Anderlecht and with England youth teams.

Villa hoped Gerrard, who signed a three-and-a-half year contract last November, would return Villa to European competition but Purslow said the club had to act after evaluating “results and performances over the calendar year”. He added that the “objective of continuous improvement” had not been achieved.

Jürgen Klopp said he had exchanged messages with the former Liverpool captain. “He will be back, 100%” the Liverpool manager said. “But now I hope he takes a bit of time as well because since he finished his [playing] career he is pretty much working all the time so maybe use it now a little bit for himself to recharge.”

Champions League roundup: Bayern, Napoli and Brugge seal knockout places | Champions League

Bayern Munich cruised past Viktoria Plzen 4-2, putting them through to the knockout stage of the Champions League after punishing the Czech champions during a ruthless first-half display.

The victory combined with Barcelona’s 3-3 draw with Internazionale put Bayern through to the knockout stage while confirming the hosts’ exit. Bayern, who have now gone a record-extending 32 group matches in the competition without defeat, struck first after 10 minutes when Sadio Mané played a one-two with Leon Goretzka before putting the ball in the net.

An unmarked Thomas Müller doubled the visitors’ lead, before Goretzka nabbed two goals to round off the scoring for Bayern. Adam Vlkanova and Jan Kliment pulled goals back for the home side in the second half.

Napoli kept up their 100% record in the Champions League group phase and secured progress to the knockout stages by beating Ajax 4-2 at the Diego Armando Maradona Stadium.

Early goals from Hirving Lozano and Giacomo Raspadori put the Serie A leaders comfortably ahead by the 16-minute mark and Khvicha Kvaratskhelia added a second-half penalty after Davy Klaassen had pulled one back for Ajax.

The Dutch club made a desperate bid for a share of the spoils as Steven Bergwijn converted an 83rd-minute penalty to bring the score back to 3-2 but a terrible defensive error allowed Victor Osimhen to score Napoli’s fourth in the final minute.

Napoli’s 12-point haul means they are guaranteed a top-two finish in Group A, having scored 17 goals in four matches. Elsewhere in the section, Liverpool demolished Rangers 7-1 to put themselves a point away from qualification.

Hirving Lozano celebrates his opening goal with Victor Osimhen, who later came on to score Napoli’s fourth.
Hirving Lozano celebrates his opening goal with Victor Osimhen, who later came on to score Napoli’s fourth. Photograph: DeFodi Images/Getty Images

Club Brugge reached the knockout round after a 0-0 draw against Atlético Madrid guaranteed them a top-two spot in Group B. Atlético squandered a string of chances as they extended their winless streak in the competition to three games.

Elsewhere in the group, Porto’s Galeno scored one goal and earned two penalties for Mehdi Taremi to convert as they cruised to a 3-0 victory at Bayer Leverkusen, taking over second place with two matches remaining.

With manager Xabi Alonso making his Champions League debut on the Leverkusen bench, the German side quickly found themselves a goal behind after six minutes. Try as they might the hosts could not get back into the game with Porto keeper Diogo Costa pulling off several outstanding saves.

Porto’s win lifted them into second place on six points, Leverkusen are in fourth place on three points with only an outside chance of qualifying. Atlético are third on four.

In Group D, Marseille boosted their chances of reaching the last 16 with a 2-0 victory at nine-man Sporting. Mattéo Guendouzi and Alexis Sánchez scored before the break as Sporting, who lost Ricardo Esgaio and Pedro Gonçalves to red cards either side of the interval.

The result put Marseille in second place on six points, one behind Tottenham who beat Eintracht Frankfurt 3-2. Sporting are third on six points, two ahead of Eintracht.

Champions League roundup: Napoli pummel Ajax 6-1, Inter beat Barcelona | Champions League

Giacomo Raspadori scored twice as Napoli came from behind to deliver a masterclass and score a runaway 6-1 win at 10-man Ajax in the Champions League on Tuesday.

The captain, Giovanni Di Lorenzo, Piotr Zielinski, Khvicha Kvaratskhelia and the substitute Giovanni Simeone added the other goals for the Italian league leaders, after Mohammed Kudus had given the hosts the lead inside the opening 10 minutes.

Napoli, who might have scored more such was their dominance, have a 100% record at the halfway point in Group A, leaving Ajax with three points from their opening three games and in danger of missing out on next year’s knockout stages after their biggest defeat in European football.

Internazionale bounced back after two consecutive losses in Serie A with a crucial 1-0 win against Barcelona thanks to a Hakan Calhanoglu goal. The midfielder slotted home a clinical strike from just outside the area, with the ball going into the corner to the goalkeeper Marc-André ter Stegen’s right in added time before the break. The home win lifted Inter to second place in Group C on six points, three behind leaders Bayern Munich and three in front of Barcelona.

Bayern struck three times in the opening 21 minutes en route to a 5-0 demolition of Viktoria Plzen to set a record for the longest unbeaten run in group matches. The German champions have now gone 31 group games in the competition without defeat.

Elsewhere, goals from Club Brugge forwards Kamal Sowah and Ferran Jutglà saw the Belgian champions beat Atlético Madrid 2-0 at home to extend their perfect run in Group B this season. The hosts took the lead in the 36th minute when Jutglà’s low pass across the goal found Sowah, who tapped the ball into an empty net for his second European goal in three games.

Jutglà doubled the lead in the 62nd minute after winger Tajon Buchanan calmly waited for the right moment to set up the Spanish forward inside the box. Atlético had a chance to get back into the match with a penalty 15 minutes later but Antoine Griezmann lashed the ball against the bar and moments later the forward thought he had scored but his effort was ruled out for offside. Porto substitutes Zaidu and Galeno were both on target as they beat Bayer Leverkusen 2-0 to seal the Portuguese side’s first victory in the group stage. They are level on points with Leverkusen after three matches.

Marseille secured their first Champions League win of the season when they recovered from a shaky start to outclass 10-man Sporting 4-1 in an incident-packed Group D encounter at an empty Stade Vélodrome. The game, played behind closed doors after crowd trouble marred Marseille’s home match against Eintracht Frankfurt, was delayed by more than 20 minutes following Sporting’s late arrival at the stadium due to a traffic jam.