Mancunian misery as four progress
The final night of the UEFA Champions League group phase was high on drama as Manchester United and big-spending neighbours City made untimely exits from the competition and Lyon surged through thanks to a spectacular second-half goalrush in Zagreb.
Also advancing on the night were CSKA Moscow, Basel and Napoli, the quartet joining Bayern Munich, Inter Milan, Benfica, Real Madrid, Chelsea, Bayer Leverkusen, Arsenal, Marseille, APOEL Nicosia, Zenit St Petersburg, Barcelona and AC Milan in the hat for the Round of 16 draw, which takes place on Friday 16 December. The first legs of those games will be played on 14 and 15 February
For the two Manchester sides there is the consolation of a place in the UEFA Europa League, where Porto, Valencia, Trabzonspor, Ajax, Olympiacos and Viktoria Plzen will join them after finishing third in their respective groups.
FIFA.com looks back on a night of contrasting fortunes in Europe’s premier club competition.
The big game
Basel 2-1 Manchester United
Goals: Marco Streller 9, Alexander Frei 84 (Basel); Phil Jones 89 (Manchester United)
Needing only a point to go through, Manchester United found themselves up against it early on when Marco Streller powered a loose ball home only nine minutes in. With Swiss livewire Xherdan Shaqiri dictating proceedings for the hosts, and Wayne Rooney missing the kind of chances he would normally gobble up, the sluggish visitors struggled to justify their billing as firm favourites to go through. Following a half-time blast from Sir Alex Ferguson, United looked more the part as the second half began. Yet despite racking up 21 shots in all, they failed to create any sustained pressure. When Shaqiri’s teasing centre set Alexander Frei up for a far-post header he could not miss, the game looked up for the English champions. Phil Jones’ last-minute header briefly revived their hopes, but it was too little too late for last season’s losing finalists as Basel became the first Swiss side to reach the last 16 of the competition.
The other matches
Manchester City 2-0 Bayern Munich
Villarreal 0-2 Napoli
Napoli’s return to the big stage is proving to be a successful one, the Italians emerging from a daunting section after securing the win they needed at Villarreal, who became the first Spanish team to lose all six of their group-phase games. The visitors had to wait until midway through the second half before taking the lead, Gokhan Inler picking up possession from Marek Hamsik and unleashing a fine drive from just outside the box. Hamsik sealed the points minutes later when he tapped in from an uncleared corner, the Italians running down the clock with little trouble to coast into the next round.
Inler’s goal killed off Manchester City’s hopes of taking second place, which had soared after the excellent David Silva gave them a 36th-minute lead against a much-changed Bayern Munich side, the Spaniard shooting home on the turn after good work by Edin Dzeko. Yaya Toure doubled the lead after break only for bad tidings from Spain to dash City’s dreams.
Inter Milan 1-2 CSKA Moscow
Lille 0-0 Trabzonspor
Already through as group winners, Inter were in generous mood as they conceded a second home defeat in the section against a CSKA side with nothing but victory on their minds. The Russians achieved their objective when Vasili Berezutski headed in from a corner with four minutes remaining, this just moments after Diego Milito had struck the crossbar for the home side. Either Lille or Trabzonspor would have gone through had they taken maximum points from their meeting in France. Withstanding a barrage from their hosts, the Turkish side held on for a draw that was ultimately rendered hollow by CSKA’s late winner in Milan.
Benfica 1-0 Otelul Galati
Oscar Cardozo’s early goal was all the Portuguese needed to take the points against the battling Romanians and seal first place in the section.
Ajax 0-3 Real Madrid
Dynamo Zagreb 1-7 Lyon
Needing something approaching a miracle to take second place behind Real Madrid, Lyon duly achieved it, making up a seven-goal disadvantage on Ajax to squeeze through on goal difference. Les Gones’ chances looked slim to say the least when the ten-man Croatians took the lead five minutes before the interval. Bafetimbi Gomis had other ideas, however, levelling the scores moments later and adding three more as the French ran riot in the second half, in which they scored six in 27 minutes. Lyon’s remarkable escape act took them into the knockout phase for the ninth time running.
Meanwhile, Ajax were slipping to a costly defeat to Jose Mourinho’s reshuffled side, former Real Madrid reserve-team player Jose Callejon seizing his opportunity with two well-taken goals as the four-time European champions made a meek exit.
Xherdan Shaqiri’s reputation as a rising star of Swiss football is growing with every game. An elusive runner with a devastating turn of speed, the diminutive attacking midfielder can cause mischief on either side of the pitch, as he showed against United. The 20-year-old has already chalked up four goals in 15 appearances for his country, with more to come in a career that promises much.
Goal of the night
Ajax 0-2 Real Madrid, Gonzalo Higuain 42
Gonzalo Higuain and Karim Benzema showed once again why they are made for each other in combining for the visitors’ second goal of the night at the Amsterdam ArenA. Stationed out on the left as Madrid broke forward just before the interval, the Frenchman picked out his team-mate with a pinpoint crossfield ball and then looked on as the Argentinian steadied himself before rifling home.
4 - The number of goals scored by Lyon striker Bafetimbi Gomis in Zagreb on Wednesday. The Frenchman is in very good company, with Lionel Messi, Andrei Shevchenko, Ruud van Nistelrooy, Dado Prso, Simone Inzaghi and Marco van Basten having all achieved the feat in the Champions League.
Have your say
With potential winners Manchester City and Manchester United out of the running, who will lift the Champions League trophy?