Juventus, Celtic and Galatasaray laid their hands on the last three tickets for the Round of 16 of the UEFA Champions League on Wednesday evening, the draw for which is scheduled for Thursday 20 December in Nyon (Switzerland).
Paris St Germain, Schalke, Malaga, Borussia Dortmund, Juventus, Bayern Munich, Barcelona and Manchester United all finished top of their respective groups and have therefore earned the right to play the second leg of their last-16 fixtures at home. They will be drawn against a second-placed team that belongs to a different national association and that they have not previously met in this year’s competition.
Runners-up Porto, Arsenal, AC Milan, Real Madrid, Shakhtar Donetsk, Valencia, Celtic and Galatasaray will therefore play the first legs of the subsequent round at home. Nine nations will be represented in the Round of 16, including four from Spain and three from Germany. Two English clubs will be in the hat, but not Premier League winners Manchester City or Champions League title holders Chelsea, who are the first reigning European champions to be eliminated at the group stage.
FIFA.com looks back on a decisive night of Matchday 6 action.
The big game
Shakhtar Donetsk 0-1 Juventus
Goal: Oleksandr Kucher 56 OG (Juventus)
Begun at a relatively gentle pace, with neither team willing to take any significant risks, the intensity of the match increased in the second half. Juventus pushed forward but found themselves being caught out by the Ukrainians’ counter-attacking abilities, as the balance of the game swung to and fro. The Italians finally made the breakthrough just before the hour mark, Shakhtar defender Oleksandr Kucher turning a driven cross by Stephan Lichtsteiner into his own net while under pressure from Sebastian Giovinco. The home side tried hard to find a way back into the contest, but Juventus’ experience enabled them to see out the remaining half-an-hour and secure top spot in Group E in the process.
The other games
Chelsea 6-1 Nordsjaelland
Chelsea may well have been eliminated from the tournament, but they nevertheless provided some tremendous entertainment for their fans at Stamford Bridge, disposing of Danish debutants Nordsjaelland in emphatic style.
The first half featured three penalties, all awarded between the 31st and 38th minute. The first, given to the away side, saw Blues goalkeeper Petr Cech save Nicolai Stokholm’s effort, while two minutes later opposite number Jesper Hansen replicated that feat, denying Eden Hazard. A handball in the box three minutes after that led to David Luiz finally finding the net from the spot, wrong-footing Hansen on this occasion.
Just before the break, Fernando Torres, set up by Victor Moses, rounded the Danish custodian to double Chelsea’s lead. After half-time, Joshua John beat the offside trap to score Nordsjaelland’s first-ever away goal in the Champions League, but the remainder of the match would turn into somewhat of a procession for the 2011/12 champions, with Gary Cahill, Juan Mata, Oscar and Torres (again) all netting.
Lille 0-1 Valencia
Bayern Munich 4-1 BATE Borisov
Lille suffered their fifth group-phase defeat in this year’s competition, Jonas’ penalty earning the win for Valencia, who were forced to make do with second place despite the positive result.
It was Bayern who emerged as winners of Group F on the night, seeing off BATE Borisov in a robust encounter in Munich. Mario Gomez was again on the scoresheet for the Germans, registering Die Roten’s 450th home goal in European competition.
Barcelona 0-0 Benfica
Celtic 2-1 Spartak Moscow
After a tricky start, Celtic, inspired by a raucous home support, settled into the match and took the lead through Gary Hooper, who capitalised on a mistake in the Spartak defence. The Moscow outfit conjured up an equaliser twenty minutes later, Ari flicking the ball over a prostrate Fraser Forster. Eight minutes from time, however, Kris Commons blasted home a penalty following a foul on Georgios Samaras, thereby qualifying the Scots for the Round of 16.
In Barcelona, a celebratory mood was spoiled by the knee injury picked up by Lionel Messi, who had to be substituted towards the end of the encounter. Benfica, who created numerous viable opportunities, especially in the first half, will now drop into the UEFA Europa League.
Manchester United 0-1 Cluj
Braga 1-2 Galatasaray
Galatasaray endured a poor start to their crucial duel with Braga, falling behind to a firm Marcio Mossoro shot. But following Burak Yilmaz’s second-half leveller, the pendulum began to swing in favour of the Turks, and this culminated in a winning goal in the 78th minute, Aydin Yilmaz pouncing to knock the ball home, after Braga shot-stopper Quim had parried a powerful Felipe Melo effort.
Cluj pulled off a remarkable and necessary triumph at Old Trafford, but Galatasaray’s result denied them the berth in the last 16 they briefly believed they had earned. The Romanians’ winning goal came from the boot of Luis Alberto, who looked up and fired an eye-catching long-range strike into the United net.
Playing a well-executed counter-attacking game, Paulo Sergio’s men were not undeserving victors on the night, outshining a home team that were incapable of finding a way past on-song Cluj ’keeper Mario Felgueiras, and were unable to properly get into gear until it was too late.
Georgios Samaras, Celtic’s rangy Greek forward, was instrumental in the Scottish champions’ victory over Spartak, despite being closely marshalled throughout by a physically imposing Russian rearguard. The former Manchester City player had a hand in Gary Hooper’s opening goal and, after hitting the base of the post with a shot of his own, obtained the penalty that would seal the three points for the Bhoys. Since arriving at Celtic Park in 2008, Samaras, capped 60 times by Greece, has scored 55 goals in 189 matches.
Goal of the night
Braga 1-1 Galatasaray, Yilmaz Burak 58'
Five minutes after having lost out in a one-on-one with Quim, Burak Yilmaz got the better of the Portuguese ’keeper, getting on the end of an excellent Nordin Amrabat cross to direct a fine header into the corner of the net. The goal, his sixth of the tournament, not only laid the foundations for Galatasaray to go on and win the match 2-1, but also brought the Turkish striker level with Cristiano Ronaldo in the Champions League scoring charts.
200 – The number of Champions League/European Cup matches that Alex Ferguson has overseen as manager of Manchester United. Taking into account the surprise defeat suffered by his charges on Wednesday, the Scotsman’s tournament record still makes for impressive reading: 110 wins, 51 draws and 39 losses.
Have your say
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