The final places in the 2010-11 Champions League knockout phase were decided on Wednesday night when the group stage of this season’s competition came to a conclusion writes Ger McCarthy.
Bayern Munich rounded off their Group F fixtures with a convincing 3-0 win at home to FC Basel in the Football Arena in Munich. Louis Van Gaal’s side finished top of the group having amassed 15 points and only losing once to easily qualify for the second round. Franck Ribery proved the hero for the German side with a brace of goals en route to victory. Anatoliy Tymoshchuk scored in between Ribery’s double to complete a miserable night for the visiting FC Basel whose slim hopes of making the knockout phase were dashed by a rampant Bayern. Basel could at least console themselves with a place in the latter stages of the Europa League.
AS Roma qualified for the knockout phase of the Champions League by securing the point they needed away to CFR Cluj in Romania. Marco Borriello opened the scoring after 21 minutes for Claudio Ranieri’s side but the plucky Romanians grabbed a point courtesy of a Lacina Traoré equaliser with only two minutes remaining but it couldn’t prevent Roma from going into the hat alongside Bayern for Friday week’s draw.
Bayern Munich finished top of Group E and will be seeded heading into the Champions League knockout phase draw on Friday 17th of December. AS Roma secured the runners-up spot but will face a seeded club in the next round while FC Basel go into the hat for the Europa League Round of 32 draw.
Chelsea’s 100% record in Group F was ended in the Stade Velodorme on Wednesday evening with Marseille recording a morale boosting 1-0 victory. Carlo Ancelotti’s side brought their patchy Premier League form into the Champions League and although the Londoners were denied two penalties by the referee, Marseille proved good value for their surprise win. Brandao’s 81st minute strike proved enough to secure Marseille’s fourth win in as many Group F fixtures and solidified the French club’s berth in the knockout phase.
Crowd trouble marred Spartak Moscow’s 2-1 victory away to MSK Zilina in Slovakia on Wednesday night with play held up for nearly 25 minutes after flares were thrown onto the pitch and fans made their way onto the playing surface. Tomáš Majtán fired the hosts ahead early in the second period but a brace of goals from Spartak’s Brazilian duo of Alex and Ibson capped a fine comeback performance from the Russians.
Despite their Matchday 6 defeat Chelsea progress to the knockout phase of the Champions League ahead of Marseille who qualify as Group F runners-up. Spartak Moscow progress to the latter stages of the Europa League.
Real Madrid sailed into the second round of this season’s Champions League courtesy of a comprehensive 4-0 win at home to Auxerre on Matchday 6. Real completed their Group G assignment by finishing top of the table with a commanding team display which included a Karim Benzema hat-trick. The French international produced a dazzling individual display and ran the Auxerre defence ragged all evening while Cristiano Ronaldo also chipped in with a goal, his fourth of the current Champions League campaign.
Auxerre bowed out of European competition altogether as Ajax pulled off a surprise victory in the San Siro to grab the Europa League qualification spot. Manager-less Ajax defeated already qualified AC Milan 2-0 thanks to goals from Demy de Zeeuw and Toby Alderweireld to claim third spot in Group G. Stand-in Coach Frank DeBoer saw his Ajax team record only their second win against under strength Milan and the Dutch side go into the hat for the Europa League draw on December 17th.
Real Madrid qualified for the knockout phase of the Champions League as Group G winners with AC Milan progressing as runners-up. Ajax Amsterdam go into the knockout phase of the Europa League.
Shaktar Donetsk created history on Matchday 6 by qualifying for the knockout phase of the Champions League for the first time ever. The Ukrainian club defeated Portuguese side Braga 2-0 in the Donbass Arena thanks to late strikes from Rat and Luiz Adriano to proudly take their place in the last 16 of the tournament. Shaktar entered their final Group H encounter knowing a draw would be sufficient to see them through to the second round and had to wait until the 78th minute for Rat’s opener. Braga had already secured a Europa League spot but were still in with an outside chance of making the latter stages of the Champions League if results went there way. Shaktar had other ideas and Mircea Lucescu’s side go through as group winners.
Arsenal finished runners-up in Group H thanks to a hard fought 3-1 win at home to Partizan Belgrade at the Emirates. It took the introduction of substitute Theo Walcott to swing the tie in the Gunners’ favour with the English international’s 73rd minute goal pushing his side 2-1 in front. A late strike from the in-form Samir Nasri put a gloss on the final score of 3-1 but up until Walcott’s effort Partizan Belgrade had successfully limited the Arsenal attack. The returning Robin Van Persie broke the deadlock on the half hour form the penalty spot but a 52nd minute equaliser from Cleo had the subdued Emirates Stadium sounding tense for long periods. Arsene Wenger’s side were eventually rewarded for their attacking endeavours and go through to the next round as runners-up behind Shaktar.
Shaktar Donetsk will be seeded for the Champions League round of 16 draw on December 17th having topped Group H while Premier Legaue side Arsenal will have to be content with the runners-up spot. Portuguese side Braga secured the Europa League berth from Group H.
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.