The group stage of the 2018/2019 UEFA Champions League finally came to an end with French side, Lyon, sealing the last round of 16 spot with a valuable point at Shakhtar Donetsk.
It was a riveting night of football, with the game in Amsterdam between Dutch giants, Ajax, and German champions, Bayern Munich, providing the best entertainment. It ended 3-3, with the Germans emerging group winners.
Other teams who won their groups include English side, Manchester City, and the Old Lady of Italian football, Juventus, despite a shock 2-1 defeat to Young Boys in Switzerland.
So, here are five things we learnt from an interesting and historic night of European football.
5. Ajax delight for Dusan Tadic
Former Southampton player, Dusan Tadic, is a man in form after he netted another brace for his Dutch side in the Champions League.Tadic scored twice in a pulsating 3-3 draw with Bayern, making him the first player in the club’s history to score in four consecutive UCL matches.
— UEFA Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) December 12, 2018
He had scored each of Ajax’s last three goals in the UCL before the clash against the Germans on Wednesday night.
He netted Ajax’s first of the night, which canceled out Robert Lewandowski’s opener for the visitors before putting the former winners of the competition ahead through a penalty very late in the game.
4. AEK Athens join an elusive group
Greek side, AEK Athens, may be out of the competition but not without something to remember them by after they made history following their 1-0 loss to Portuguese side, SL Benfica.
— AEK F.C. (@AEK_FC_OFFICIAL) December 12, 2018
Athens became the 20th team to fail to win a single point in their first group stage in the UCL, and interestingly, they lost to the last side to have achieved similar feat, Benfica, who did so last season.
Athens lost all their games scoring just two goals and conceding 13. A debut season to remember.
3. Hoffenhiem score 11goals but bow out
German outfit, TSG Hoffenhiem, are a beautiful sight to behold on the pitch, coached by the very youthful Julian Nagelsmann, whose future in the game looks really bright.However, their 2018/2019 journey in the competition has ended and despite displaying their offensive impetus by scoring 11 times, an average of almost two goals per game, the Germans have existed the competition after a 2-1 defeat at English champions, Manchester City.https://twitter.com/achtzehn99_en/status/1072975770677624833?s=19
With the result last night’s result at the Etihad, Hoffenhiem became just the third team to finish bottom of their group having scored 10 goals or more in Champions League history.
Ligue 1 side, AS Monaco, in 2000/01 and Olympiakos from Greece in 2002/03 were the first and second respectively.
2. Group F Provides best entertainment
It appears there is something mystical about “Group F” and its teams in the UCL. Before last night, Group F, comprising of perhaps the most exciting teams in their respective domestic leagues, Manchester City, Lyon, Hoffenhiem and Shakhtar Donetsk, had scored a total of 42goals, the second most in a group in the history of the competition.https://twitter.com/ManCity/status/1072972899190013952?s=19The most goals scored in the UCL by a group stands at 51, and was scored also by another “Group F”, but this was in the 2016/2017 campaign.
Last night, however, the aforementioned teams came close to breaking it but came short by five goals as they ended on 47goals.
Man City provided 16 of the goals, with Lyon and Shakhtar scoring 12 and eight respectively.
1. Akinfeev keeps rare clean sheet at the Bernabeu
It’s not often you read or hear that the Russian number goalkeeper has kept a clean sheet but this was the case following their shocking result against European champions, Real Madrid.The Russians went, saw and conquered the Spanish giants 3-0 at their magnificent stadium for their second win in the competition this season, with the first also coming against Los Blancos.
CSKA’s win maybe shocking, but is not news anymore but what is news is their goalkeeper, Igor Akinfeev, not conceding a goal in Europe.
Before their game at the Bernabeu, Akinfeev and CSKA had failed to keep a clean sheet in their last 19 away games in the UCL which has now come to an historic and emphatic end.