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Salah wins BBC African Footballer of Year

Football
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ESPN FC  By ESPN staff

Liverpool's Philippe Coutinho after Spartak rout: 'Special' to be captain

Philippe Coutinho and Liverpool scored early and never looked back, putting seven past Spartak Moscow on their way to winning Group E.
Philippe Coutinho and Liverpool scored early and never looked back, putting seven past Spartak Moscow on their way to winning Group E.
Steve Nicol can't decide whether he's more likely to remember Liverpool's attack or Spartak's 'shambolic' defending in their 7-goal rout.
Jurgen Klopp remarks on the strength of competition in the round of 16 and is confident that no team will be happy to face Liverpool.

Philippe Coutinho says it was "special" to captain Liverpool as they thrashed Spartak Moscow 7-0 to book their place in the Champions League knockout round. 

Coutinho, who continues to be linked with a move to Barcelona, scored his first ever hat trick in club football as Liverpool secured top spot in Group E with a superb performance at Anfield.

The Brazil international also took the armband with both Jordan Henderson and James Milner on the bench, and he told UEFA's official website: "It was a very special night.

"I was very happy with my goals and the performance. It was special to be captain -- I think it was my first time here.

"We can face some big teams in the next round, but we'll see who we're drawn against."

Philippe Coutinho led the way as Liverpool beat Spartak Moscow at Anfield.

Reflecting on his hat trick, he added: "In the Champions League I think it's my first one. I've scored a hat trick with Brazil, but this is important as well.

"It was a really good night. When you play at Anfield the atmosphere is amazing. I always said the fans here are unbelievable. Today is a good day.

Coutinho said his focus in 2018 is to continue playing well in order to secure a place in Brazil's World Cup squad.

"Let's see," he said. "We have to work hard. Of course, I have to work hard to be in the World Cup because Brazil have a lot of players and I have to keep going."

In addition to Coutinho's hat trick, Sadio Mane scored a brace and Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah got on the scoresheet, with the attack living up to their billing as the "Fab Four."

Asked which of Liverpool's "Fab Four" he liked best in his postmatch news conference, manager Jurgen Klopp joked: "Paul."

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