Champions League takeaways: Dele Alli upstages Ronaldo

Spurs' Dele Alli celebrates scoring against Real Madrid. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

Here’s what happened in the UEFA Champions League on Wednesday, in case you missed it…

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Roundup: Spurs hammer Real Madrid, Man City best Napoli, and more

WHAT STOOD OUT

Alli outshines Ronaldo at Wembley
Cristiano Ronaldo has a knack for producing on the big stage, and few stages are bigger than Wembley Stadium. Wednesday’s tilt against Tottenham in London was the type of night that he thrives in, that he routinely uses to make a statement about his standing in the sport. Very rarely does Ronaldo get upstaged on such occasions.

This was one of the exceptions, and it was Dele Alli who stole the spotlight away from the Portuguese star by scoring two goals in a 3-1 win that sent Tottenham through to the knockout phase of the competition. In bagging a brace, Alli became only the sixth English player to ever score twice against fabled Real Madrid in a Champions League game. Alli was clearly a man on a mission, eager to make up for lost time after sitting out the opening three matches of the group stage through suspension.

Not only did Alli outduel Ronaldo (no small feat), but Tottenham made Real Madrid look ordinary on the night, as Spurs’ dynamic attack toyed with los blancos’ beleaguered defence.

The magnitude of what Tottenham accomplished Wednesday night should not be overlooked. Real Madrid had not lost a group stage match since October 2012, riding a 30-game unbeaten run ahead of their trip to London. This result, on the heels of their 1-1 draw two weeks ago at the Bernabeu, put Spurs in control of Group H, sitting on a three-point lead over Real with games against Borussia Dortmund and APOEL remaining.

BEST MOMENT

It was an electric atmosphere right from the start at Stadio Paolo ahead of Napoli vs. Manchester City:

BEST QUOTE

“We played against a better team tonight. We must accept that, and not go over it too much.” – Zinedine Zidane, Real Madrid manager

BEST GOAL

A fabulous give-and-go by Napoli unlocked Manchester City’s defence in the 21st minute, with Dries Mertens delivering a sublime back-heeled pass for Lorenzo Insigne to finish off.

BEST MATCH

It’s pretty difficult to overlook Manchester City’s 4-2 win over Napoli in Italy. Both teams went at it right from the start, resulting in an open game with plenty of attacking soccer and a flurry of goals. Even when City held 3-2 lead, they went forward, rather than playing for the draw.

BEST TWEET

Serie A leaders Napoli are not typical of the calibre of opponent Manchester City faces most weeks in the Premier League:

THE GAME WITHIN THE GAME

It took Liverpool some time to finally break down visitors Maribor, with all three of the Reds’ goals coming after the halftime break. But the sustained offensive pressure that Liverpool exerted over their Slovenian opponents in the opening 45 minutes set the stage for their deluge of goals in the second half.

BURNING QUESTION

SIX PACK OF STATS

• Besiktas have never lost a game in European competition at home to a French side (three wins, one draw).
• Tottenham’s Dele Alli is the sixth English player to score against Real Madrid in the Champions League (David Beckham, Paul Scholes, Alan Smith, Steven Gerrard and Danny Welbeck).
• Sergio Aguero is now the highest scoring player in Manchester City’s history (178 goals in 264 appearances)
• Cristiano Ronaldo has scored 10 goals vs. Tottenham in all competitions, more than against any other English side.
• Emre Can is the second German player (after Dietmar Hamann) to score a goal for Liverpool the Champions League.
• Feyenoord have conceded 100 goals in the European Cup/Champions League – twelve of those goals have come during the 2017-18 campaign.

— Stats courtesy of Opta

THREE STARS

1) Dele Alli, Tottenham: It was a man of the match effort from the young Englishman, bagging a brace against Real Madrid.
2) Marlos, Shakhtar Donetsk: Scored two goals, including the winner, to push Shakhtar on the brink of qualification for the Round of 16.
3) Leroy Sane, Manchester City: A quietly effective game for the German, who helped set up the Blues’ second goal.