Champs in trouble as quartet advance
Valencia, Bayern Munich, Barcelona and Shakhtar Donetsk all progressed to the Round of 16 during the first instalment of Matchday 5 of the UEFA Champions League on Tuesday, joining already-qualified Porto, Malaga and Manchester United in the hat.
Reigning European champions Chelsea, meanwhile, resoundingly beaten 3-0 by Juventus, now no longer have their destiny in their own hands.
FIFA.com reviews all the action from an exciting evening of continental clashes.
The big game
Juventus 3-0 Chelsea
Goals: Fabio Quagliarella 38, Arturo Vidal 61, Sebastian Giovinco 90+1
Determined and aggressive, and buoyed by a raucous home support, Juventus saw off European champions Chelsea in style in Turin, dominating the midfield battle from start to finish. An on-form Fabio Quagliarella made the breakthrough seven minutes before half-time, getting a slight touch on an Andrea Pirlo shot to clinically deflect the ball past Petr Cech.
On the hour mark, during a period of extreme pressure by the Italians, Ghanaian midfield man Kwadwo Asamoah pulled back an excellent low ball for Chilean team-mate Arturo Vidal, who made no mistake from just inside the area. Chelsea manager Roberto Di Matteo brought on every forward at his disposal in the final 20 minutes of the game, but La Vecchia Signora held firm and sealed the points on the counter-attack in injury time. Sebastian Giovinco, put through nicely by Vidal, poked the ball past the on-rushing Cech to score Juventus’ 200th UEFA Champions League goal.
In order to qualify from the group, the Blues must now emerge victorious from their upcoming home duel with Nordsjaelland, all the while hoping that Juventus and Shakhtar Donetsk do not play out a draw at the same time.
The other games
Nordsjaelland 2-5 Shakhtar Donetsk
The Danish champions went down fighting against ruthless opponents, with the Brazilian pair of Luiz Adriano and Willian doing the damage for Donetsk, nabbing three and two goals respectively. Ahead of the visit of Juventus on Matchday 6, the Ukrainians have now officially qualified for the knockout stages.
BATE Borisov 0-2 Lille
Valencia 1-1 Bayern Munich
Both Valencia and Bayern Munich knew pre-match that a draw would be enough for both teams to advance, but the game did not turn out to be the stroll in the park some were expecting.
On the contrary, fans were treated to a hard-fought encounter, with complete commitment on show on both sides of the pitch. Valencia, who were reduced to ten men after half-an-hour, went ahead in the 77th minute through a deflected effort by Algerian midfielder Sofiane Feghouli, but the Germans dug deep to equalise in the 82nd minute, Thomas Muller pouncing on a loose ball in the box.
Lille, who had already been mathematically eliminated, saved face by pocketing all three points from their trip to a foggy Borisov.
Benfica 2-1 Celtic
Spartak Moscow 0-3 Barcelona
Benfica ground out a potentially crucial result against their brave and resilient Scottish visitors, who missed an enormous opportunity to equalise in the final seconds of the match. Due to goals from Ola John and Ezequiel Garay, Benfica remain in contention for a place in the last 16, but are now faced with the daunting thought of likely having to take something from their trip to Camp Nou in a fortnight.
Barcelona, meanwhile, overcame a Spartak outfit missing numerous key players through injury, and consequently had the three points already in the bag by half-time. An on-song Lionel Messi set up Dani Alves for the opening goal before going on to score two of his own. Barça took their foot off the pedal after the break, but secured their qualification and top spot in Group G nonetheless.
Elsewhere in the section, Cluj eliminated Braga with a first-half hat-trick from Rui Pedro. The second qualifying slot will now go down to the wire with Galatasaray in the driving seat, as a victory for the Turks in Braga will be enough for a place in the Round of 16, irrespective of the result obtained by the Romanians in Manchester.
Cluj’s Portuguese attacker Rui Pedro became the first player to net a hat-trick for a Romanian club in the Champions League, and the second-ever Portuguese player – after Cristiano Ronaldo – to achieve the feat. Pedro joined Porto’s youth academy at the age of 13, but his first-team opportunities proved limited. After four seasons on loan at various clubs in his homeland, he packed his bags to join Cluj on a permanent basis in 2011.
Against Braga, he twice showed great composure to instinctively slot the ball past the away goalkeeper, and capped off a tremendous individual display by driving home a powerful shot from just inside the box. The Cluj No30 will be hopeful that his three-goal haul will open the doors to the Portuguese national team, for whom he previously appeared at U-21, U-19 and U-16 level.
Goal of the night
Nordsjaelland 2-1 Shakhtar Donetsk, Kasper Lorentzen 29
Dutch forward Joshua John outpaced the Donetsk defence down the left flank before breaking into the box and supplying a low pass for Kasper Lorentzen, who controlled, swivelled and smashed the ball into the roof of the net off the underside of the crossbar. It provided the Danes with just a fleeting moment of celebration, however, as Shakhtar would go on to win the match 5-2.
80 and 25 – Courtesy of yet another brace in Moscow on Tuesday, Lionel Messi took his total number of goals for the calendar year to 80, and is now just five short of the incredible record of 85 set by the legendary Gerd Muller in 1972.
The diminutive Argentinian did draw level with another, even older record, the one held by England’s Vivian Woodward (1879-1954), who scored 25 goals for Tottenham Hotspur and England in international competitions in 1909. Messi’s successful strikes against Spartak also saw him hit the 25 mark for 2012, having recorded 13 with Barcelona in the Champions League, and 12 with Argentina. The Catalans’ clash with Benfica on 5 December will be his last chance to establish a new yardstick outright.
Have your say
Can Chelsea still qualify from Group E?