LIVERPOOL, England: Liverpool marched into the knockout stages of the Champions League with two games to spare after a convincing 2-0 victory over 10-man Atletico Madrid at Anfield on Wednesday guaranteed them top spot in Group B.
With four wins out of four, Juergen Klopp's side can now take their foot off the gas for the final two games of the group stage and focus their resources on their Premier League title push.
Liverpool have yet to lose in 16 matches in all competitions this season and their unbeaten run stretches back 25 matches to their April 6 loss to Real Madrid in last season's Champions League campaign.
"The first target was to get through this group. I didn't expect we would be through after four games but the boys did it and it's really well deserved," said Liverpool boss Juergen Klopp.
The only negative for Klopp's side was a hamstring injury to Brazilian forward Roberto Firmino in the second half.
A draw would have been enough for Liverpool to be sure of their passage to the last 16, but from the outset Klopp's side looked like they had nothing but victory on their minds.
Diogo Jota put the home side ahead in the 13th minute, nodding home at the back post after a great cross from the right by Trent Alexander-Arnold although Atletico coach Diego Simeone will surely have felt that his stationary defenders made the goal far too easy.
Alexander-Arnold was again the provider for the second eight minutes later when his low ball into the box was brilliantly met by Sadio Mane who fired past Jan Oblak.
Liverpool were buzzing, first to the ball across midfield and quick to push forward in search of a third.
The Spanish side's troubles intensified after Felipe was sent off in the 36th minute for a deliberate trip on Mane that earned him a harsh straight red.
Mohamed Salah forced a good save out of Oblak before halftime with a stinging drive as Liverpool went in at the interval in firm control.
Jota thought he had his second and Liverpool's third, shortly after the break, but the goal was ruled out for offside after a VAR review.
There were some signs of life from the visitors after that reprieve and former Liverpool striker Luis Suarez looked to have reduced the deficit with a deflected shot that deceived Alisson Becker, but that effort too was annulled by VAR for offside.
The Spanish champions, who beyond that moment failed to test the Liverpool keeper at all, could have no complaints about the outcome, which leaves them in third place on four points, one behind second placed Porto.
Oblak was puzzled by the team's defending in front of him but said qualification for the knockout stage remained within their reach.
"We depend on ourselves. We have to win the two games that remain," he said. "It won’t be easy - we all know that - and we have to give our best version of ourselves and do our best. With our quality, if we show it on the field, we can win the two games and get through to the last 16."