MADRID – Real Madrid and Besiktas punched their tickets for the 2017-2018 UEFA Champions League knockout stage on Tuesday, while Sevilla mounted an epic comeback against Liverpool to remain in contention with just one match to go in group play.
The Blancos and Besiktas joined Paris Saint-Germain, Bayern Munich, Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur, who came into the fifth match day having already secured their places in the round of 16.
Tuesday’s visit to Nicosia for a match against APOEL proved to be just the thing for a Real Madrid side that has been struggling in La Liga.
Karim Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo each had a brace as the Blancos pounded the hosts 6-0 to clinch second place in Group H and continue their quest for a third consecutive Champions League title.
In Germany, meanwhile, Tottenham Hotspur assured themselves of winning the group by coming from behind to defeat Borussia Dortmund 2-1.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang put the hosts ahead, but Harry Kane and Heung-Min Son answered for the English club.
Spurs have 13 points, three ahead of Real Madrid. If the two teams ended up tied on points, the Premier League side would take first place by virtue of having drawn with the Blancos away and defeated them in London.
Besiktas also had to battle back on Tuesday after conceding a goal to Porto’s Felipe in the 29th minute of the match in Istanbul.
Anderson Talisca got the equalizer in the 42nd minute and the home side hung on to preserve the draw and remain undefeated in the group stage.
With 11 points, the Turkish side wins Group G and is headed to the knockout phase for the first time in its history, while Porto has seven points, the same as RB Leipzig, who routed Monaco 4-1.
Timo Werner scored two for Leipzig as Monaco, last year’s semifinalist, saw themselves eliminated.
Porto, with an advantage over the German club on goal difference, will face Monaco in their final match, while Leipzig have to contend with Besiktas.
The drama on match-day five was to be found at Seville’s Sanchez Pizjuan stadium, where the home side fell behind 3-0 to Liverpool in the first 30 minutes before exploding for three goals in the second half to finish 3-3.
The outcome leaves the Reds with nine points and Sevilla with eight, though Liverpool is +10 on goal differential. Third place in Group E belongs to Spartak Moscow, who have six points after conceding a goal in stoppage time to deadlock 1-1 with lowly Maribor.
Sevilla can advance with an away draw against Maribor in the final match. Liverpool will host Spartak at Anfield.
In Group F, Man City remained perfect with a 1-0 victory over hapless Feyenoord, but Shakhtar Donetsk blew a chance to seal second place, losing 3-0 to Napoli.
Shakhtar, with nine points, can claim a berth in the knockout stage with a draw in their final match against Manchester City. Napoli, at six points, need a victory over Feyenoord and a Shakhtar loss against the Citizens.