A host of clubs have made it through to the UEFA Champions League knockout phase following Wednesday night’s Matchday 5 fixtures including Premier League sides Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United writes Ger McCarthy.
Tottenham Hotspur qualified for the second round of the Champions League at the first time of asking following a clinical 3-0 win over Werder Bremen at White Hart Lane on Wednesday evening. Goals from Younes Kaboul, Luka Modrić and Peter Crouch earned Harry Redknapp’s side a richly deserved victory and it could have been much worse for a poor Bremen side but for Spurs profligacy in front of goal.
A solitary Esteban Cambiasso strike earned Inter Milan a narrow 1-0 win at home to Twente Enscehede to ease the pressure on under-fire Coach Rafa Bentiez. An under-strength Inter made it through to the second phase despite the best efforts of their plucky Dutch opponents but will need to improve if they are to retain the Champions League trophy.
Tottenham just need to match Inter’s result away to Bremen to win Group A when they travel to Holland to face Twente on Matchday 6. The English side currently enjoy a better goal difference (+7 to +4) than the Italians.
Schalke 04 put their poor domestic form to one side and swept French Champions Lyon aside 3-0 in the AufSchalke Arena on Matchday 5 to qualify for the knockout stages. Jefferson Farfán broke the deadlock and a brace from Klaas-Jan Huntelaar sent the Bundesliga outfit into the last 16.
Despite the defeat Lyon still managed to qualify for the second round courtesy of Hapoel Tel Aviv’s surprise 3-0 victory at home to Benfica in Israel. Tel Aviv’s Eran Zahavi opened the scoring an added a second soon after Douglas da Silva had put result beyond doubt.
Lyon entertain Hapoel on Matchday 6 hoping their expected victory will be enough to leap-frog Schalke into top spot with the Germans facing a tricky away day at Benfica.
Wayne Rooney grabbed the headlines for all the right reasons with a converted penalty enough to earn Manchester United a 1-0 win away to Rangers at Ibrox. Rooney’s solitary strike secured a fourth Group C victory in 5 attempts for Sir Alex Ferguson’s side and safe passage into the knockout phase of the competition.
Valencia made sure of their place in the last 16 courtesy of a thumping 6-1 win in the Mestalla over a hapless Bursaspor. Goals from Mata, Soldado (2), Adruiz, Joaquin and Dominguez capped a memorable evening for Valencia with Batalla’s 69th minute effort proving a mere consolation for the visiting Turkish side.
Manchester United host Valencia at Old Trafford on Matchday 6 requiring only a draw to finish top of Group C while Rangers go to Turkey to face Bursaspor on the same evening having already secured a Europa League berth.
Barcelona secured top spot in Group D following a straightforward 3-0 victory in Athens over Panathinaikos on Wednesday evening. Pedro netted twice but once again Lionel Messi took centre stage scoring his side’s second goal following a flowing Barca move.
Rubin Kazan caused a shock by defeating FC Copenhagen 1-0 thanks to Christian Noboa’s converted penalty. Rubin registered their first ever Champions League win to move within a point of the second placed Danish side and keep alive their slim hopes for qualification
Rubin Kazan will need at least a draw away to the already qualified Barcelona on Matchday 6 and hope Panathinaikos can cause a similar upset away to FC Copenhagen on the same evening to secure the second qualification berth from Group D.
Ger McCarthy is author of the book entitled ‘Off Centre Circle’ about a lifetime spent playing amateur football in Ireland. Follow him on Twitter by clicking here.