United advance, Bhoys stun Barça
Manchester United can already start looking forward to the UEFA Champions League knockout phase after seeing off Braga on Wednesday to post their fourth consecutive group stage win. The victory ensured the Red Devils' progress to the last 16 alongside Porto and Malaga, who both stamped their tickets in Tuesday's Matchday 4 encounters.
Barcelona did not fare quite so well as they suffered only their second group stage loss since 2009 away against Celtic, although they remain top of Group G. Elsewhere, the tussle for qualification spots looks set to be intense in Group E, after an evening of action which left holders Chelsea and Shakhtar Donetsk on seven points and Juventus on six.
The big game
Chelsea 3-2 Shakhtar Donetsk
Goals: Fernando Torres 5, Oscar 40, Victor Moses 93 (Chelsea); Willian 8, 47 (Shakhtar)
Stamford Bridge was the scene for a spectacle of rare excitement that kicked off with a pair of goals in the first eight minutes and reached a breath-taking climax courtesy of a winning effort struck deep in added time. The European champions twice took the lead after pouncing on mistakes at the back, and it was Shakhtar goalkeeper Andrei Pyatov who had the most explaining to do. The visiting custodian began by firing a clearance at Fernando Torres which rebounded into the net and then watched as Oscar's shot sailed over his head from 40 metres out after he had headed the ball into danger from outside his area.
Shakhtar were able to level the scores on both occasions, though, Willian turning in crosses from Fernandinho and his captain Darijo Srna to set up a thrilling finale. Ultimately, everything came down to a Juan Mata corner in the 93rd minute, with Victor Moses sparking delight among the home fans by heading in. For Shakhtar, it was a cruel way to end, but the Ukrainian side are sure to have their say in the final two matches after such a spirited showing.
The other games
Juventus 4-0 Nordsjælland
The Italian champions were able to celebrate victory at last after three successive Champions League draws by seeing off a Nordsjælland team experiencing a difficult introduction to life at this level. Claudio Marchisio, Arturo Vidal, Sebastian Giovinco and Fabio Quagliarella grabbed the goals, with Andrea Pirlo once again pulling the strings.
Bayern Munich 6-1 Lille
Valencia 4-2 BATE Borisov
Bayern and Valencia have moved clear in the standings and appear favourites to progress after the German side made light work of Lille and Valencia completed a home-and-away double against BATE. Bayern were particularly impressive as they racked up five goals in the opening half an hour – three of them coming from Peruvian forward Claudio Pizarro – while Los Che shone in a serious and controlled performance. The Spanish challengers enjoyed a 2-0 lead after 30 minutes and added their third early in the second period, but they wobbled slightly when an outbreak of over-confidence allowed BATE to punish a pair of defensive errors. Algerian international Sofiane Feghouli nonetheless made sure of the result close to the end to notch his first ever Champions League double.
Benfica 2-0 Spartak Moscow
Celtic 2-1 Barcelona
Fraser Forster was again the hero for Celtic as Barcelona came unstuck in Glasgow, the goalkeeper winning his personal duel with Lionel Messi thanks to a little help from the woodwork. The home side rocked their illustrious opponents when Victor Wanyama headed in from a corner to become the first Kenyan to score in the Champions League, and they then defended valiantly as Barça set about forcing an equaliser. Indeed, the next goal came at the other end as Tony Watt applied the finish to a textbook counter-attack, the debutant making his mark as the youngest scorer in this season's competition at 18 and 314 days. A late comeback looked possible when Messi was finally able to celebrate the birth of his son with a ferocious added-time finish, but Celtic held firm to inflict a second defeat this term on the Liga giants.
As for Benfica, they engineered their first win of the campaign in comfortable fashion, Ola John and Oscar Cardozo combining with sparkling effect to pose Spartak's defence a whole host of problems. Cardozo struck twice and would have clinched a hat-trick had he not also missed a penalty, but overall he will be delighted with a result which breathes fresh life into Benfica's bid.
Cluj 1-3 Galatasaray
Braga 1-3 Manchester United
Off the boil for 80 minutes, United had to wait until the closing stages to make their experience count, exploiting Braga's mistakes to guarantee their passage. Robin van Persie, Wayne Rooney and Javier Hernandez got the goals that made the difference in Portugal and none of them will mind that the match itself was far from a classic. Second spot now belongs to Galatasaray, meanwhile, Burak Yilmaz helping himself to a treble in Romania to lift his team back into the reckoning, even if they must still face United at home and Braga away.
Galatasaray's hat-trick hero Burak Yilmaz joined the club this summer after representing six previous Turkish outfits and rejecting the chance to move to bigger names abroad. Standing 1.88m tall and the son of former Besiktas player Fikret Yilmaz, the powerful 27-year-old began turning heads at Trabzonspor, where he plundered 19 goals in 2010/11 and 33 the following season. He has eight in nine outings for Galatasaray this term and has proved equally effective at international level, hitting 13 in 24 appearances for Turkey.
Goal of the night
Benfica 2-0 Spartak Moscow, Oscar Cardozo 69
Ola John caused panic in the Spartak rearguard by racing free down the left flank, and just when it seemed as if his options were limited, the Dutch winger with Liberian roots served up a pinpoint cross for Oscar Cardozo. Hovering near the penalty spot, Cardozo hooked in a devastating volley that left goalkeeper Artem Rebrov with no chance – and brought a sublime conclusion to a classic attacking move.
500-750-300 – Bayern Munich reached three new landmarks on Wednesday and all of them came courtesy of Claudio Pizarro. The Peruvian marksman delivered the first when his 18th-minute effort brought up Bayern's 500th Champions League and European Cup goal, and ten minutes later he struck the German side's 750th in European competition. Five minutes after that, he registered the club's 300th goal at home in Europe.
Have your say
With Chelsea, Shakhtar and Juve all in the running, which two clubs will qualify from Group E?
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