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Liverpool and Atletico battle for top spot

  • Story Highlights
  • Liverpool and Atletico Madrid qualify for Champions League knockout stage
  • Liverpool beat Marseille 1-0 and Atletico see off PSV Eindhoven 2-1
  • Atletico are forced to play match behind closed doors due to previous crowd trouble
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(CNN) -- Liverpool and Atletico Madrid clinched qualification from Group D of the Champions League with home victories on Wednesday night.

Steven Gerrard takes the plaudits of the Liverpool crowd after scoring the only goal at Anfield.

Livverpool beat Marseille 1-0 and Atletico saw off PSV Eindhoven 2-1 behind closed doors, leaving the pair to fight it out for top spot in the group in the final round of matches next month.

They are both on 11 points from five rounds with Atletico having the edge on goal difference.

Liverpool will visit PSV and Atletico are at Marseille with the two home sides, both on three points, still battling it out for the UEFA Cup spot for third place in the group.

English title pretenders Liverpool were sent on their way by inspirational captain Steven Gerrard who gave them the lead after 23 minutes following a bright start at Anfield.

The England midfielder, returning after a groin injury, ran in at the far post to powerfully divert Xabi Alonso's 23rd-minute right-wing cross past goalkeeper Steve Mandanda.

Liverpool appeared to ease up after their goal and home goalkeeper Pepe Reina had to turn Taye Taiwo's powerful low shot around the post.

A quick reaction save from Mandanda tipped away Albert Riera's shot in the first-half injury time, but there was a lack of urgency in Liverpool's general play.

Marseille fought hard for an equalizer after the break and the lively Hatem Ben Arfa rounded Andrea Dossena to send a dangerous ball across the face of the goal just after the hour mark.

After substitute Dossena hauled down Laurent Bonnart in the 67th, Ben Arfa's free kick was only kept out of the net by Reina's flying save.

As Liverpool offered little in reply, Mamadou Niang came closest to an equalizer with a close-range header with eight minutes left.

Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez admitted his side had ridden their luck.

"The second half was a bit scary and it was definitely not the best game of football but the most important thing is that the job is done," the Spaniard told Sky Sports.

Atletico were forced to play behind closed doors at the Vicente Calderon stadium because of previous crowd trouble, but still managed a vital victory.

The Spanish side took the lead in the 14th minute as PSV defender Carlos Salcido failed to clear a cross from the right and Simao Sabrosa was on hand to score.

Another poor clearance in the 28th allowed Maxi Rodriguez to score from a volley inside the area.

Dutch champions PSV fought back after the break and Danny Koevermans scored early in the second half, his fourth in five games, from a goalmouth scramble.

Atletico's Florent Sinama-Pongolle should have added a third three minutes after coming on for Sergio Aguero in the 66th but Andreas Isaksson blocked a clear chance.

PSV had one final excellent opportunity but Jeremie Brechet headed over.

Copyright 2008 CNN. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Associated Press contributed to this report.

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