Champions League Roundup: Arsenal, Chelsea through to last 16
Despite the likes of Bayern Munich, Zenit St. Petersburg and Barcelona all having guaranteed qualification with a game to spare, it was a night of high drama across Europe, with Arsenal heading to Greece needing to beat Olympiacos by two clear goals.
Olivier Giroud was the hero for the Gunners, scoring a hat-trick to ensure his side snuck into second place behind Bayern Munich in Group F. The Germans beat Dinamo Zagreb in the other game 2-0, with the in-form Robert Lewandowski continuing his impressive scoring run with a brace.
Chelsea have been under heavy scrutiny of late, struggling for form and languishing in the bottom half of the Premier League, and they needed to avoid defeat to Portuguese side Porto at Stamford Bridge to continue their European adventure.
A huge slice of good fortune set them on their way, with Diego Costa’s first half shot cannoning in off defender Ivan Marcano after the Spanish striker had seen his effort pushed out by Iker Casillas. Brazilian winger Willian made sure of the points – and Chelsea’s Champions League progression - with a low second half drive, with the London club enjoying what was a night of respite from their domestic woes.
The Blues finish top of Group G, with Dynamo Kiev coming in second after their 1-0 win over Maccabi Tel Aviv.
Two draws in Group E meant that Italian side Roma squeezed through to the knockout round at the expense of both BATE Borisov and Bayer Leverkusen. The German side managed a commendable 1-1 draw with Barcelona, with Leo Messi scoring for the Catalan side after a beautifully weighted through-ball from Ivan Rakitić.
What a assist from Rakitic, what a goal from Messi! 🔥🔥 pic.twitter.com/IIqsR54K7g— Football Stuff (@FootbalIStuff) December 9, 2015
The goalless draw between BATE and Roma was enough to send the latter though, however, despite the result stretching the Serie A side’s winless run to five matches in all competitions.
Belgian champions Gent complete the last 16 line-up, inflicting a first Champions League defeat of the season on Andre Villas-Boas’ Zenit in Group H. English manager Gary Neville lost his first match in charge of Valencia in the other group game, going down 2-0 at home to French side Lyon, with Los Che dropping into the Europa League.
The Champions League and Europa League draws for the knockout rounds will take place on Monday December 14.
Champions League Last 16 sides: Real Madrid, Paris Saint-Germain, Atlético Madrid, Benfica, Manchester City, Juventus, Barcelona, Roma, Wolfsburg, PSV Eindhoven, Zenit St Petersburg, Bayern Munich, Arsenal, Chelsea, Dynamo Kiev, KAA Gent
Europa League Qualifiers: Shakhtar Donetsk, Manchester United, Galatasaray, Sevilla, Bayer Leverkusen, Olympiacos, Porto, Valencia