Brazilian striker Neymar became the obstacle on Wednesday night as Paris Saint-Germain defeated Liverpool 2-1 in France in a titanic battle for UEFA Champions League round of 16 tickets.
Juan Bernat opened the scoring for the hosts before Neymar added the second for the team which earned a measure of revenge against the Reds, following the team’s 3-2 defeat at Anfield in September.
PSG’s front line of Kylian Mbappe, Edinson Cavani and Neymar combined for the decisive strike, with Neymar slotting home Cavani’s rebound after the Uruguayan was set up by World Cup winner Mbappe.
James Milner pulled one back from the penalty spot on the stroke of halftime.
It was a crucial triumph for the Parisians, who moved past Liverpool into second place in Group C, just one point behind Napoli.
The Reds will host the Italian side Dec. 11 on the final matchday of the first round, while PSG will travel to Serbia to face already-eliminated Red Star Belgrade.
Elsewhere, Spanish champions Barcelona endured a nervy final eight minutes at PSV Eindhoven after Luuk de Jong cut their lead in half late, but Barca held on for a 2-1 win that clinched them first place in Group B.
Lionel Messi opened the scoring around the hour mark with a brilliant individual effort, tearing through several defenders before hitting a rocket into the top corner of the net.
Veteran defender Gerard Pique doubled the visitors’ advantage soon thereafter before De Jong made things interesting near the end, but it was too late for the Dutch side, which had already been eliminated from knockout stage contention.
Also on Wednesday, Borussia Dortmund could not score against U.S. national team goalkeeper Ethan Horvath, who earned his second straight clean sheet in the Champions League for Belgian outfit Brugge.
Despite the impressive result for the visitors at the imposing Westfalenstadion, it wasn’t enough for Club Brugge, which needed all three points to stay in contention for the knockout phase.
For Dortmund, the draw was disappointing but still enough to guarantee their progression to the next stage.
The German leaders could still top Group A with a win against Monaco in the group stage finale, provided Atletico Madrid doesn’t beat Brugge in Belgium.
English Premier League side Tottenham Hotspur got the three points they needed at Wembley against Inter Milan thanks to substitute Christian Eriksen, who finished off a pretty passing sequence with 10 minutes to play.
The victory pulled Tottenham level with Inter on seven points, good for the second spot (behind Barca) in Group B.
Mauricio Pochettino’s team will have their work cut out for them on the final match day, though, as they travel to Spain to take on Messi and Co.
However, Barca could rest several regulars with their passage to the second round already secured, as Inter host last-place PSV.
In other matches Lokomotiv Moscow defeated Galatasaray 2-0, the same margin Atletico Madrid overpowered Monaco, while Napoli recorded a 3-1 victory over Red Star Belgrade.
Porto also humbled Schalke 3-1.