Liverpool and Ajax extended their perfect winning records in the Champions League on Wednesday to advance into the round of 16 that’s starting to take a 1970s throwback look.
Liverpool cruised past Atletico Madrid 2-0 at Anfield and Ajax hit 10-man Borussia Dortmund with late goals in a 3-1 come-from-behind win in Germany.
The four teams with four-straight wins – after Bayern Munich and Juventus sealed their places Tuesday – have already given the knockout lineup a nostalgic feel. Ajax, Bayern and Liverpool combined to win all eight European Cup titles from 1971-78.
Liverpool had never opened a Champions League group stage with four wins, though it was rarely troubled against Atletico in Group B after Diogo Jota and Sadio Mane scored in the first 21 minutes. Atletico dropped to third in the group behind Porto, which was held to a 1-1 draw at last-place AC Milan.
Ajax is having a standout Champions League campaign after being ignored by the Super League founders from England, Italy and Spain when they lined up their ill-fated project several months ago.
The Netherlands champion made it back-to-back big wins over Dortmund, which had veteran defender Mats Hummels sent off in the first half.
Second-place Dortmund trails Ajax by six points in Group C with two rounds left. Dortmund is level on points with Sporting Lisbon, which routed Besiktas 4-0 and hosts the German side next on Nov. 24.
Real Madrid and Inter Milan – two of the 12 Super League clubs – have taken control of Group D from upstart Sheriff after important wins Wednesday.
Karim Benzema’s goals ensured Madrid beat Shakhtar Donetsk 2-1 and leads the standings by two points from Inter. The Italian champion made it two straight wins over Sheriff, 3-1 away to the champion of Moldova.
Manchester City overpowered Club Brugge 4-1 and was rewarded with top spot in Group A after late drama at Leipzig where Paris Saint-Germain drew 2-2.
A PSG team missing the injured Lionel Messi rallied from an early Leipzig surge to lead at halftime through two goals by Georginio Wijnaldum.
PSG dropped points after a stoppage-time penalty by Leipzig substitute Dominik Szoboszlai.
City took a one-point lead over PSG before they meet in Manchester in three weeks time.