PIX: Lewandowski hits fastest Champions League hat-trick!

Images from the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals played on Tuesday night.

Lewandowski ‘tricks’ Bayern to big win

IMAGE: Bayern Munich’s Robert Lewandowski celebrates with the match ball after scoring a hat-trick against Salzburg. Photograph: Michael Regan/Getty Images

Bayern Munich’s Robert Lewandowski grabbed the earliest hat-trick in Champions League history with three goals by the 23rd minute as the Germans steamrollered Salzburg 7-1 on Tuesday to book a place in the quarter-finals with an 8-2 aggregate score.

 

The 33-year-old Poland striker scored three times in an 11-minute spell as he opened his account with two almost identical penalties in the 12th and 21st before netting on the break two minutes later for his fifth hat-trick ever in the competition.

The last-16 tie was all but over by the half-hour mark when Serge Gnabry beat beleaguered Salzburg goalkeeper Philipp Koehn with a low shot to make it 4-0 before a Thomas Mueller double and Leroy Sane strike in the second half wrapped up the win.

“This was a statement, an exclamation mark,” said Bayern keeper Manuel Neuer.

Bayern, who have been unpredictable in the Bundesliga this year, have now scored seven or more goals in a Champions League game for a record seventh time.

“We started well and presented ourselves differently from recent weeks. That gives you hope that this will go on. You could see from the start that we had a good attitude,” said Neuer.

The keeper also set a record with his 104th appearance in the competition, overtaking current club CEO Oliver Kahn as the Bayern keeper with the most games in the Champions League.

IMAGE: Robert Lewandowski scores the second goal for Bayern Munich. Photograph: Michael Regan/Getty Images

Salzburg had two golden chances early in the game and came agonisingly close to an equaliser in the 15th minute when Neuer, back from a knee injury, pulled off the save of the game to tip Nicolas Seiwald’s missile over the bar.

But even though Salzburg had not conceded more than two goals in a competitive match this season, they could do nothing to stop in-form Lewandowski.

The Pole twice forced defender Maximilian Woeber to fell him for a penalty before beating him again on the rebound for his third goal.

Worse was to come after the break when Mueller turned beautifully in the box to drill in the fifth goal in the 54th.

“The game was of huge importance for us,” Mueller said. “Had we been eliminated today we would have faced three sad months and people would be rightly questioning things.”

IMAGE: Robert Lewandowski celebrates scoring the first goal for Bayern Munich. Photograph: Alex Grimm/Getty Images

Salzburg teenager Maurits Kjaergaard got a consolation for the visitors in the 70th minute with his first European goal.

Mueller, however, bagged his second of the evening 13 minutes later before Leroy Sane completed the rout in the 86th.

“Today it was an opponent on a different level,” Salzburg defender Rasmus Kristensen said.

“We had some chances but if you don’t make them count it’s difficult. It had nothing to do with attitude, focus or the match plan. They simply were better in all aspects – that’s it.”

Liverpool into quarters despite loss to Inter

IMAGE: Inter Milan’s Lautaro Martinez, 2nd right, celebrates with team-mates after scoring a goal against Liverpool. Photograph: Phil Noble/Reuters

Liverpool stuttered into the quarter-finals of the Champions League with a 2-1 aggregate win over Inter Milan after suffering a 1-0 loss to the Italian side, who were reduced to 10 men, at Anfield on Tuesday.

After a cagey first half, a superb drive into the top corner from Lautaro Martinez in the 62nd minute put Inter ahead on the night.

But just when they looked capable of springing a surprise, the visitors found themselves down a man after Alexis Sanchez was dismissed for a second yellow card after catching Liverpool midfielder Fabinho.

It was a harsh decision against Sanchez, who had won the ball but caught the Brazilian with his follow through and Inter’s bench furiously protested.

The dismissal killed Inter’s momentum with Liverpool never looking in danger of conceding again.

“Lautaro’s goal had hit Liverpool, but Sanchez’s expulsion influenced the last half hour of play,” said Inter coach Simone Inzaghi ruefully.

“A victory at Anfield it’s nice, but it’s useless for the qualification,” he added.

IMAGE: Inter Milan’s players argue with referee Mateu Lahoz after Alexis Sanchez was shown the red card. Photograph: Michael Regan/Getty Images

After their 2-0 loss at the San Siro, Inzaghi’s Inter came to Anfield knowing that they needed to find the perfect balance of defensive security and clinical finishing and they began in confident fashion.

Inter’s shape was compact and their movement clever while Liverpool struggled to get into their normal rhythm, perhaps wary of over-committing.

Still, it was the home side who came nearest to taking a first-half lead with Joel Matip heading against the bar and then Virgil van Dijk heading wide from a Trent Alexander Arnold corner.

Hakan Calhanoglu forced Liverpool keeper Alisson Becker into action in the 42nd minute and on the stroke of halftime Trent Alexander-Arnold, finding space on the right, flashed a shot just wide.

Liverpool struck the woodwork again after the interval, with Mohamed Salah hitting the post after Inter keeper Samir Handanovic had rushed out to foil Diogo Jota.

But the game truly came alive when Martinez, having just wasted a good opportunity, picked the ball up on Liverpool’s right and took a step inside before unleashing an unstoppable drive.

It was a short-lived moment of promise for Inter though, with Sanchez departing soon after, and it was Klopp’s men who looked the more likely to add to the scoring.

Salah hit the post for the second time in the game and then substitute Luis Diaz saw a stoppage-time shot cleared off the line by Arturo Vidal.

Although the defeat ended Liverpool’s seven-match winning run in the Champions League they achieved their goal of reaching the last eight for the fourth time in the last five seasons.

“The art of football is to lose the right games. I still hate it, but if there’s any game we could afford to lose it was tonight,” said Klopp.

“Over the two games I think we deserved it. It is fair that we are through against a tough opponent”.

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