Roma staged a stirring comeback to beat Bayern and move to the brink of qualification, as did Shakhtar Donetsk with their win at Partizan Belgrade, while Arsenal will have to wait to confirm their place after going down to Braga.
The big game
Spartak Moscow 0-3 Marseille
Goals: Mathieu Valbuena 18, Loic Remy 54, Brandao 68
Resolute at the back and lethal in front of goal, a determined Marseille secured the win they were looking for on an icy night in the Russian capital. The visitors went ahead when Gabriel Heinze hooked a Loic Remy cross into the path of Mathieu Valbuena, who spun away from his marker and curled a precise right-footed shot into the top corner. Making no headway against a well-organised defence, Spartak fell further behind when Remy’s shot struck both posts before crossing the line. Brandao completed a thoroughly professional display from the former European champions by adding a third midway through the second half.
The other games
Roma turned in the performance of the night in Group E, coming from two goals down to beat section winners Bayern Munich at the Stadio Olimpico. Mario Gomez’s first-half brace, his third of the season, silenced the home fans only for I Giallorossi, prompted by the excellent Jeremy Menez, to emerge from the dressing room a different side. Marco Borriello cut the deficit four minutes after the restart, with Daniele de Rossi hitting the equaliser after a well-worked move and Francesco Totti stroking home a late winner from the penalty spot. Roma’s first win over the Bavarians means they only need a point from their final game away to Cluj, who remain bottom after losing 1-0 at Basel, to advance.
In the other game in Group F, Chelsea maintained their 100 per cent record after a hard-fought 2-1 victory over section makeweights MSK Zilina, Florent Malouda securing the points for the Blues four minutes from time.
The top two have also been decided in Group G. Despite resting several players, Real Madrid were still too strong for Ajax at the Amsterdam Arena, where Karim Benzema set the Spaniards on the way to a comfortable 4-0 win with a first-time drive from the edge of the area. Alvaro Arbeloa then scored his first goal in 32 Champions League outings with a superb strike from distance, before Cristiano Ronaldo added a double in the final quarter of an hour.
AC Milan made sure they joined the nine-time European champions in the hat for the next round with a clinical 2-0 triumph at Auxerre, the goals coming from Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Ronaldinho, who was returning to the ground where he made his European debut.
In Group H, Shakhtar Donetsk won 3-0 at Partizan Belgrade to all but secure a berth in the knockout stage. Goals from Taras Stepanenko, Jadson and Eduardo da Silva reflected the dominance of the Ukrainians, who have now replaced Arsenal at the top of the pool. Beaten in Donetsk three weeks ago, the Gunners slumped to their second straight away defeat, this time at Braga, the side they beat 6-0 at the Emirates back in September. A late Matheus brace gave the Portuguese some revenge for that result, but even though they are now level on points with Arsene Wenger’s men, they will likely need group also-rans Partizan to do them a favour by getting at least a point in north London in a fortnight’s time.
3 - The number of English players who made the Arsenal starting line-up in Braga. It has now been six years since the Londoners last won a Champions League match when fielding two or more Englishmen.
Goal of the night
Chelsea 0-1 Zilina (Issiaka Babatounde Bello 17)
The visitors took the lead with a textbook move from one end of the pitch to the other. Issiaka Babatounde Bello played a neat one-two with skipper Robert Jez before clipping a precise shot past Chelsea keeper Ross Turnbull from the edge of the area. It was the Beninese striker’s first goal in the competition.
Upcoming fixtures - Wednesday 8 December
Group E: Bayern Munich-Basel, Cluj-Roma
Group F: Marseille-Chelsea, MSK Zilina-Spartak Moscow
Group G: Real Madrid-Auxerre, AC Milan-Ajax Amsterdam
Group H: Arsenal-Partizan Belgrade, Shakhtar Donetsk-Braga
Have your say
Will Roma and Arsenal advance to the next round, or fall at the last hurdle in the group stage?