Champions League wrap: Man City make exit, Chelsea lose in Turin
Manchester City are eliminated in the group stage once againg as Chelsea lose at Juventus. Trevor Murray reports
City knocked out by Madrid
Karim Benzema’s 10th-minute goal was cancelled out by a Sergio Aguero penalty with 17 minutes remaining, but there was a lot of action to digest between both strikes. The disappointing result, although a draw and by no means embarrassing, condemns them to bottom spot in Group D. Some terrible defending in the opening 25 minutes allowed Los Blancos to run riot with several chances falling to Cristiano Ronaldo and Sami Khedira. If Madrid had been more clinical, the score-line could have been a lot more damning for Roberto Mancini’s men. In truth, City had more than their fair share of chances too, and after a brief spell of dominance towards the end of the first half, one sensed that they weren’t about to give up. They continued in search of an unlikely comeback, but their efforts were ot good enough as the away contingent held on to secure a point that sees them finish second in Group D. City now aren’t even sure of grabbing the Europa League spot and will need to beat Borussia Dortmund to topple third-place Ajax.
The Old Lady’s wisdom topples Chelsea
Chelsea are in danger of not reaching the knockout stage after their group following what was a surprising manner of defeat on Tuesday. Chelsea’s defensive weaknesses still remain unresolved and Juventus knew exactly where to hurt them – and how. In truth, it was a phenomenal midfield display from the Italians, who are sure to be a handful for any team in Europe. Chelsea didn’t look at all like Champions League holders, and will be furious that their hopes of qualifying have now been terribly compromised. Goals from Fabio Quagliarella, Arturo Vidal and Giovinco condemned the Blues to a 3-0 loss in Turin. With new interim manager Rafael Benitez in charge after Roberto Di Matteo was sacked on Wednesday morning, one begins to wonder just how settled Chelsea will be even if they do reach the round of 16.
Arsenal secure qualification with win over Montpellier
A terrific attacking display from the Gunners on Wednesday night means the Gunners have qualified for the second round. With another match still to play to determine whether or not they will top the group, Arsene Wenger is a man with only good things to complain about. Montpellier offered little in the way of opposition as Lukas Podolski and Olivier Giroud cut through their defence with relative ease all night long. The football on display was a spectacle to behold as Arsenal sprayed the ball around with tremendous style and confidence. And finally, there was an end product to all its beauty – two end products in fact. Firstly, Giroud got a headed assist against his former club to set up Jack Wilshere for his first Arsenal goal since returning from injury, and then The Emirates fans witnessed something truly magnificent. Giroud, following Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s run, played an exquisitely accurate pass into the path of Podolski. who rocketed home a wonderful volley past Geoffrey Jourdren to seal three points.
United beaten by Galatasaray
Manchester United their place in the knockout stages was safe before a ball was even kicked in Turkey, and Sir Alex Ferguson’s squad reflected this on Tuesday night. Despite one or two for the visitors, they looked rather uninspired for much of the 90 minutes. Although the match was a great opportunity for some of the lesser-experienced players to shine, none grabbed the opportunity. It was a Galatasaray player Burak Yilmaz who was the match-winner, with a well-taken goal in the 54th minute. As a result of the Turkish club’s 1-0 victory, they could now still qualify.
Celtic brought back to earth with loss to Benfica
On Tuesday night, the Hoops were brought crashing back to reality with a 2-1 loss to Portuguese side Benfica. Inside eight minutes, Neil Lennon’s men found themselves a goal down as John capitalised on some rather poor defending from the Scottish side to fire past Fraser Forster. Even though Giorgios Samaras levelled the scores in the 32nd minute, Celtic never looked likely to increase their tally. Benfica kept the majority of the possession and looked far more threatening in attack than their opponents, and in the 72nd minute, their creativity and persistence paid off to make it 2-1. Ezequiel Garay, completely unmarked at the back post, volleyed home expertly from close-range to crush Celtic’s dreams for another matchday. Although the Glasgow club can still qualify, it promises to be quite a nervy and tense affair when they face Spartak Moscow in two weeks time.