Mo Salah’s Ballon d’Or rival nets hat-trick as 4 clubs qualify for last 16

Liverpool were one of four clubs to qualify for the last 16 of the Champions League after four rounds of games, meaning they know three of the sides they will avoid.

The Reds embarrassed LaLiga champions Atletico Madrid at Anfield on Wednesday night, rising above their gamesmanship and sealing a 2-0 victory.

With AC Milan holding Porto to a 1-1 draw elsewhere in Group B, Liverpool were assured of finishing top of the group after taking three points, clinching progress to the knockout stages.

They were not the only side to do so, with Bayern Munich, Juventus and Ajax all booking their route to the last 16 this week.

Bayern made it a perfect four wins from four with a 5-2 thrashing of Benfica, with Robert Lewandowski netting a hat-trick on his 100th appearance in the Champions League.

Lewandowski is Salah’s most convincing rival for the Ballon d’Or, and the Polish striker has now scored 81 goals in that century of games in Europe’s top-tier tournament.

Juventus overwhelmed Dejan Lovren‘s Zenit St Petersburg on their way to the last 16, with long-time Liverpool target Federico Chiesa shining in a 4-2 win.

Meanwhile, Ajax followed up the Reds’ accomplishment with a 3-1 victory away to 10-man Dortmund, as Sebastien Haller scored his seventh goal in four Champions League games this campaign.

The last-16 draw takes place on December 13, and Liverpool already know they cannot face any of Bayern, Juventus or Ajax in the next round.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, October 3, 2021: Manchester City's manager Josep 'Pep' Guardiola during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Manchester City FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Man City are denied early progress but played out a 4-1 win over Club Brugge, while Sheriff Tiraspol let their surprise lead slip with a 3-1 defeat to Inter Milan that shifts them down to third in Group D.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was left to rely on more late Cristiano Ronaldo heroics as Man United fought back for a 2-2 draw with Atalanta that keeps them top of Group F, while Chelsea saw off Malmo on their way to a 1-0 win.

The biggest result of the week came with Sporting CP’s 4-0 mauling of Besiktas, as Liverpool-linked Pedro Goncalves scored twice.

Champions League Results, Week 3

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Wednesday, November 3, 2021: Liverpool's Sadio Mané celebrates after scoring the second goal during the UEFA Champions League Group B Matchday 4 game between Liverpool FC and Club Atlético de Madrid at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Group A

Man City 4-1 Club Brugge
RB Leipzig 2-2 Paris Saint-Germain

Group B

AC Milan 1-1 Porto
Liverpool 2-0 Atletico Madrid

Group C

Dortmund 1-3 Ajax
Sporting CP 4-0 Besiktas

Group D

Real Madrid 2-1 Shakhtar Donetsk
Sheriff Tiraspol 1-3 Inter Milan

LISBON, PORTUGAL - Wednesday, September 29, 2021: Benfica's Darwin Nun?ez prepares to take a penaty kick during the UEFA Champions League Group E Matchday 2 game between SL Benfica and FC Barcelona at the Estádio da Luz. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Group E

Dynamo Kyiv 0-1 Barcelona
Bayern Munich 5-2 Benfica

Group F

Atalanta 2-2 Man United
Villarreal 2-0 Young Boys

Group G

Wolfsburg 2-1 Salzburg
Sevilla 1-2 Lille

Group H

Malmo 0-1 Chelsea
Juventus 4-2 Zenit St Petersburg