Klopp proud of Liverpool’s clean sweep in Champions League group

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(Reuters) – Liverpool became the first English club to win all six Champions League group stage games after beating AC Milan 2-1 on Tuesday, an achievement that left manager Jurgen Klopp “filled with pride”.

Goals from Mohamed Salah and Divock Origi cancelled out Fikayo Tomori’s first-half opener and ensured Liverpool qualified for the knockout stages with a maximum 18 points.

“Honestly I don’t feel pride a lot in football because most of the time I expect good things to happen. But tonight fills me with a lot of pride,” Klopp said.

“It’s not a prize (winning all six) and you win something. I’d have taken each points tally to go to the next round but 18 is the best so we take that as well.”

Klopp made eight changes to the starting line-up and the German said he saw “so many good football things” against Milan.

“With that many changes … the boys have to then be confident enough to show how good they are,” he added.

Liverpool, second in the Premier League, host Aston Villa on Saturday.

Atletico Madrid snatched a place in the Champions League last 16 by riding their luck to win 3-1 at Porto on Tuesday in a tense, ill-tempered game as both sides finished with 10 men.

Antoine Griezmann put Atletico in front against the run of play in the 56th minute, bundling the ball into the net following a corner after the hosts had missed a glut of clear chances either side of the break.

Atletico’s lead was threatened when Yannick Carrasco was sent off in the 67th minute for raising his hands to Otavio as tempers raged following a foul.

However, Porto’s numerical advantage lasted only a few moments as Wendell was dismissed for appearing to lightly strike Matheus Cunha with his elbow, sparking a melee involving the players and coaching staff.

Diego Simeone’s team saw out the game in typical fashion, ceding Porto the ball but closing down the spaces, and substitute Angel Correa clinched the win with a clinical finish on the counter-attack in the 90th minute. 

Rodrigo de Paul then added a third goal 60 seconds later as Porto ran out of energy and hope. 

The home side earned a consolation penalty which Sergio Oliveira converted with the final kick of the game.

Atleti began the game bottom of Group B but ended it second on seven points, with Porto coming third with five and qualifying for the Europa League.

“This match and this group stage campaign sums up just what Atleti is all about,” said Griezmann. 

“We are a true group and we need everyone to do their bit to get to where we want to. We never stop believing.”

(Reporting by Aadi Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Peter Rutherford)

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