Celtic ran out surprise 2-1 winners against Barcelona on Wednesday night at Parkhead thanks to a 21st-minute goal from Kenya international Victor Wanyama and Tony Watt’s late strike. When the first goal went in, the crowd were ecstatic but still wary of a repeat of two weeks previously where Tito Vilanova’s men came from behind to snatch a winner in added time. This time around, it was to be dramatically different. For all their slick passing, wonderful movement and deft touches, the Catalan side simply could not break down the Hoops’ defence which, at times, consisted of all 11 men. Ironically, it was a long ball from Celtic’s goalkeeper Fraser Forster that would ultimately undo pass masters Andres Iniesta and company and ensure a deserved Celtic victory.
After a blistering 17 minutes, Ajax led by two goals at the Etihad Stadium and Manchester City’s supporters were expecting another European night to forget. Siem de Jong turned in both Ajax goals, the first in the ninth minute and again eight minutes later. Yaya Touré did pull one back for the Citizens and the home crowd began to believe that a comeback was on the cards. And although Sergio Aguero grabbed a scrappy equaliser in the 74th minute with plenty of time remaining to find a winner, the Premier League champions simply could not convert. To make matters worse, they were also denied thanks to a very dubious decision to flag Aguero offside after he appeared to have netted a third. Add to this rebuffed penalty claims and City players and staff confronting the referee at the final whistle and what do you have? A manager with his job on the line, the Citizens bottom of group D, and a revitalised looking Ajax.
A dramatic late flurry of goals from Manchester United ensured that they continued their 100 per cent record in this season’s Champions League. In the 51st minute, Alan converted a penalty to give the Portuguese side some hope of claiming their second win of the group, but United refused to be deflated. Also, thanks to a floodlight failure, they were given time to recuperate. After the unscheduled restart United looked a different side and three goals later, the comeback was more than completed. Robin van Persie pulled the first goal back through an opportunistic chip over Beto in the 81st minute. Shortly, Wayne Rooney converted a penalty and Javier Hernandez punished the Portuguese side by adding a third. United will be pleased to have booked their place in the knockout stage, while Braga will be confident that they can still qualify.
In a thrilling encounter at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday night, Chelsea and Shakhtar battled it out at the top of Group E. An enthralling first half resulted in three goals being scored as Chelsea lead at the break thanks to a wonderfully taken 45-yard goal from Oscar. Fernando Torres had scored earlier on in the sixth minute after the Ukrainian side had fluffed their lines and failed to get out of their own half. Three minutes later Willian had levelled in the hope of clinging on to top spot. Not long after the restart, Willian completed his brace and left the manager Mirceau Lucescu feeling a little more relaxed. His state of serenity wouldn’t last long as Chelsea threatened on numerous occasions to restore parity. And so they did. Late on, in the 94th minute, Victor Moses broke the travelling fans hearts to rescue three points for the home side. Chelsea are now still in with a real chance of stealing top spot with two games to play, and, you can be sure, Roberto Di Matteo will remain hopeful for now
Goals from Theo Walcott and Olivier Giroud in the first half gave Arsenal hope that they could climb up to top spot in Group B on Tuesday evening. However, Schalke, determinedly, got themselves back into the game, drawing level and dashing any hopes the Gunners had of stealing all three points. In first-half stoppage time, Klaas Jan Huntelaar pulled a goal back and tilted the momentum towards the German side at just the right time. Schalke began to dominate proceedings in the second half and were, in truth, unlucky not to get more out of the game, but all in all, the result seemed fair based on each teams performance in either half. Jeffrey Farfan, who was a thorn in Arsenal’s defence at The Emirates too, scored in the 67th minute to keep the home fans content for now. It’s still all to play for in Group B, and it promises to be a thrilling culmination.
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