By Jason Gee
The UEFA Champions League first group stage has reached its conclusion and uefa.com looks back at the highlights from the last eight weeks.
Italian clean sweep
Sixteen teams have progressed from the 32 who kicked off on Matchday One, including for the first time all four Italian representatives. The greatest surprise was arguably FC Basel's qualification ahead of Liverpool FC in Group B, although FC Bayern München's elimination also sent shockwaves across Europe.
Out of the ashes
Newcastle United FC rose from the ashes of three opening defeats to progress and FC Barcelona became the fourth side to win all six first-phase matches. AEK Athens deserve a nod too for drawing all six of their matches.
Spanish too strong
Defending champions Real Madrid CF started the tournament with a devastating 3-0 victory at AS Roma, and Valencia CF also got off to an impressive start, beating Liverpool FC 2-0 in Group B. The most intriguing aspect of Matchday One, however, was the poor start made by the German teams.
Bayer 04 Leverkusen, runners-up last season, started with a 6-2 defeat at Olympiakos Piraeus FC, while BV Borussia Dortmund lost at Arsenal FC. Bayern, champions in 2001, started with a 3-2 reverse at the Olympiastadion following a hat-trick from RC Deportivo La Coruña striker Roy Makaay.
Two Italian clubs sent out a warning on Matchday Two, with Juventus FC dismantling FC Dynamo Kyiv 5-0 in Group E and AC Milan winning 4-0 at Deportivo, with Italy striker Filippo Inzaghi scoring a hat-trick.
Away from La Coruña, the Spanish sides were on song, with FC Barcelona winning 2-0 at Galatasaray SK, Madrid destroying KRC Genk 6-0 at the Santiago Bernabéu and Valencia travelling to Moscow and beating FC Spartak Moskva 3-0. Arsenal also flexed their muscles with a 4-0 away victory over PSV Eindhoven.
Manchester United FC maintained their 100 per cent record with a 4-0 thrashing of Olympiakos on Matchday Three, while Newcastle suffered a third straight defeat, 2-0 against Juventus in Italy. Bayern lost their second match at the Olympiastadion when Milan's Inzaghi struck both goals in a 2-1 win.
Olympique Lyonnais made history when they went to Milan and beat Internazionale FC 2-1, becoming the first side to beat Inter at the San Siro in Europe's premier club competition. Liverpool got their first win, 5-0 over Spartak at Anfield.
The smaller sides had their day on Matchday Four, with AJ Auxerre beating Arsenal 2-1, and Newcastle securing their first points with a 1-0 triumph over Juventus.
In Group G, Bayern were on the brink of elimination after losing 2-1 at Milan, while Barcelona continued their unfettered progress with three more points when FC Lokomotiv Moskva came to town. United, too, won their fourth match in succession, 3-2 at Olympiakos. The results were enough to send all three sides through to the second phase.
On Matchday Five Newcastle kept their hopes alive by beating Dynamo but Bayern's exit was confirmed when Makaay led Deportivo past the German giants at the Riazor. Valencia secured their progress with victory away at Liverpool while Roma stirred after their slow start with a 1-0 win in Madrid.
Matchday Six saw Basel draw 3-3 with Liverpool at Saint Jakob Park to finish as Group B runners-up and become the first Swiss team to reach the second group stage, while Newcastle emerged from the ashes of defeat in their first three matches to qualify as Group E runners-up after Craig Bellamy's last-minute winner at Feyenoord.
There was a happier outcome for another Dutch side, AFC Ajax, who progressed with Inter, despite losing to the Italians. Hernán Crespo's two goals in Amsterdam raised his tally to eight, leaving him level with Inzaghi in the scoring charts.
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