The first instalment of fixtures making up Matchday 4 of the UEFA Champions League saw Porto (Group A) and Malaga (Group C) become the first two clubs to qualify for the Round of 16.
There was not one single away victory recorded among Tuesday's results, although AC Milan, Manchester City and Real Madrid conceded troublesome draws at home, against Malaga, Ajax and Borussia Dortmund respectively.
FIFA.com rounds up all the action from an exciting evening of continental duels.
The big game
Real Madrid 2-2 Borussia Dortmund
Goals: Pepe 34, Mesut Ozil 89 (Real Madrid); Marco Reus 28, Alvaro Arbeloa 45 OG (Borussia Dortmund)
The German champions’ dynamic duo of Marco Reus and Mario Gotze put on a masterclass of clinical finishing versus Real Madrid, whose defensive fragility forced their midfielders to come back and help out so often that they were unable to support their strikeforce effectively.
Reus’ fabulous half-volleyed opener compelled Los Blancos to chase after an equaliser relatively early on in the encounter, something they achieved a few minutes later through Pepe’s forceful header. Just before the break, Gotze surged into the box, forcing Alvaro Arbeloa to deflect the ball past Iker Casillas. The Madrid custodian had already been the busier goalkeeper up to that point, pulling off two stunning saves.
In the second half, the Spaniards pushed hard for a second leveller, with Cristiano Ronaldo in particular missing a glorious chance. Finally, in the last minute of normal time, Mesut Ozil saved his side from a damaging defeat by dispatching a superb looping free-kick into the back of the net via the base of the post.
The other games
Dynamo Kiev 0-0 Porto
Paris St Germain 4-0 Dinamo Zagreb
A cautious Porto side earned the point they required to move into the last 16 in Kiev, the 11th time they have reached that particular stage in 17 attempts.
Paris St Germain also took a giant step towards qualification by resoundingly defeating a Dinamo Zagreb outfit that rarely ventured outside their own half. While Zlatan Ibrahimovic did not find the net for Carlo Ancelotti’s men on this occasion, the Swede nevertheless distinguished himself, becoming just the second Champions League competitor to register four assists in one match, joining Carlos Martins of Benfica in an elite club.
Schalke 2-2 Arsenal
Olympiacos 3-1 Montpellier
Arsenal came close to gaining timely revenge on Schalke, but could not hold on to the 2-0 lead they had built up after only 26 minutes of play through Theo Walcott and Olivier Giroud. Klaas-Jan Huntelaar brought the Gelsenkirchen club back into the match just after the break with his fourth goal in four matches, and an on-song Jefferson Farfan drew the Germans level 20 minutes from time, securing a result that keeps them on top of the section in the process.
But Olympiacos, who triumphed for the second successive outing versus French title-holders Montpellier, remain very much in contention.
Anderlecht 1-0 Zenit St Petersburg
AC Milan 1-1 Malaga
Malaga travelled to Milan with the intention of obtaining a result that would be synonymous with qualification, which they duly achieved. The Andalusians caused the Milan rearguard massive problems all night, with young prodigy Isco, who set up Eliseu beautifully for the away side’s goal, in sparkling form. Malaga took their foot off the pedal as the game progressed, and eventually conceded their first goal of the group stage, Alexandre Pato scoring with a close-range header.
The Spaniards, at the first time of asking, reach the knockout round with two games to spare, therefore, while AC Milan still remain in a strong position to claim second place despite the result, but their fans will be most concerned about their porous defence.
Anderlecht, meanwhile, relaunched their campaign through a goal from Dieumerci Mbokani, during a match in which Zenit St Petersburg never really got going.
Manchester City 2-2 Ajax
Manchester City, who appeared completely out of sorts as they trailed Ajax 2-0 early on, fought back well to maintain their slim chances of attaining knockout stage qualification. Two Siem de Jong goals put the Amsterdam side in control, but Yaya Toure’s fantastic volley cut the deficit for Roberto Mancini’s charges. A well-worked goal from Sergio Aguero, nicely set up by substitute Mario Balotelli, got the home fans up out of their seats and secured a much-needed point for City.
While everything is still possible in this most unpredictable of groups, the Citizens’ remaining fixtures – a home encounter with Real Madrid and a tough away match in Dortmund – do not give grounds for optimism.
Malaga’s 29-year-old attacking midfielder Eliseu is currently enjoying the best season of his career. His opener in Milan, made possible by some excellent work by Isco, represented his third successful strike of this Champions League campaign, including the goal against Panathinaikos that originally sent Malaga through to the group stage.
Goal of the night
Manchester City 1-2 Ajax, Yaya Toure 22
Samir Nasri sent over a cross from the right with the outside of his boot that was headed towards his own back post by Christian Poulsen. Yaya Toure controlled the ball on his chest before falling back and letting fly with a sensational right-foot volley that left Kenneth Vermeer with no chance.
8 – The number of goals now scored in the Champions League by Alex, PSG’s Brazilian defender, a total that brings him level with John Terry. Only two other defenders, Christian Panucci (11) and Roberto Carlos (16), have ever managed more.
Have your say
Can Ajax secure a surprise qualification from Group D?