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UEFA Champions League

Olympiacos, Bayer advance on wild night

Olympiakos players celebrates their victory

Olympiacos and Bayer Leverkusen qualified for the Round of 16 of the UEFA Champions League on Tuesday, joining Chelsea, Manchester United, Manchester City, Barcelona, Atletico Madrid, Real Madrid, Paris Saint-Germain and Bayern Munich in next week’s draw.

The high-stakes encounter between Galatasaray and Juventus, from which one of the teams should have emerged with a ticket for the knockout stage, was abandoned in the 31st minute due to adverse weather conditions. The match will resume with the score still at 0-0 on Wednesday afternoon, weather permitting.

FIFA.comtakes a look back at the highlights of the first instalment of Matchday 6 of the Champions League group stage.

The big match
Olympiacos 3-1 Anderlecht
Goals: Javier Saviola 33 58, Alejandro Dominguez 90+5 pen (Olympiacos); Sacha Kljestan 39 (Anderlecht)
Olympiacos did what they had to do on Tuesday, progressing to the last 16 by seeing off a Belgian team that exhibited great fragility in defence and finished the 90 minutes with eight men. As opportunistic as ever, Javier Saviola was instrumental in the Greeks’ victory, despite missing a penalty.

The Piraeus-based side dominated the early stages and went ahead through Saviola. Sacha Kljestan’s leveller failed to throw them off their stride, as they conspired to find a way through the visitors’ rearguard on two more occasions. Anderlecht, for whom goalkeeper Silvio Proto was outstanding, finish in last place.

The other games

Group AManchester United 1-0 Shakhtar Donetsk
Real Sociedad 0-1 Bayer Leverkusen
Currently struggling in the English Premier League, Manchester United relied on their experience to secure a tight win over Shakhtar Donetsk, who threatened constantly in the first half but faded away in the second.

A volley from Phil Jones was sufficient to ensure three points for the Red Devils and send the Ukrainians into the UEFA Europa League.

Sitting second in the Bundesliga behind Bayern, Bayer Leverkusen needed a goal from Turkish defender Omer Toprak, following a scramble from a corner, to defeat a resolute Basque side that yet again failed to put away clear-cut chances.

The Germans were equally profligate in front of goal, but nevertheless did enough to claim a place in the next round.

Group B
Copenhagen 0-2 Real Madrid
Galatasaray-Juventus (match abandoned)
Real Madrid prevailed in Copenhagen without having to dig all that deep, courtesy of Luka Modric, who curled an eye-catching long-range effort into the top corner, and Cristiano Ronaldo, who latched onto Pepe’s knock-down to fire the ball home, breaking the Champions League group-stage scoring record in the process.**

The match between Galatasaray and Juventus, meanwhile, had to be halted due to a violent hailstorm.

Group C
Benfica 2-1 Paris Saint-Germain
Benfica exited the competition with their heads held high, having overcome a PSG XI deprived of numerous first-team players through injury. The French champions took the lead via Edinson Cavani, but resilience and a raucous home support drove the home team on to find an equaliser just before the break, Rodrigo Lima scoring from the penalty spot.

Nicolas Gaitan completed a creditable comeback in the second half, but *As Águias’ *had to make do with a Europa League spot, as Olympiacos advanced at their expense.

Group D
Bayern Munich 2-3 Manchester City
Viktoria Plzen 2-1 CSKA Moscow
Despite having already qualified, Bayern and City put on an impressive spectacle in Munich. The defending champions appeared to have laid the foundations for success, after Thomas Muller and Mario Gotze had built up a 2-0 lead.

The Bavarians made the mistake of taking their foot off the pedal, however, an approach which resulted in David Silva reducing the deficit prior to half time. Manuel Pellegrini’s men came out of the dressing room determined to turn the game around, exerting considerable pressure until equalising and then stretching ahead through Aleksandar Kolarov and James Milner respectively.

City held on, handing Bayern, who had won their ten previous matches in the tournament, their first Champions League loss of the Pep Guardiola era, but the Citizens still could not wrestle first place from their opponents’ grasp.

In the section’s other fixture, Viktoria Plzen triumphed over CSKA Moscow, Tomas Wagner’s last-minute winner snatching a slot in the UEFA Europa League for the Czechs.

The player
Anderlecht goalkeeper Silvio Proto was heavily involved in his team’s duel with Olympiacos, notably saving two penalties, first from Javier Saviola and then Vladimir Weiss. In the third minute of injury time, however, with his team already down to nine men, the Belgian custodian blotted his copybook by tripping Weiss in the area and getting himself sent off.

The goal
Benfica 2-1 Paris Saint-Germain (Nicolas Gaitan 59)  
As Benfica pushed for a winner, Argentinian midfielder Enzo Perez played a one-two with Maximiliano Pereira down the right before firing a low cross into the box. PSG defender Zoumana Camara could only deflect the ball into the path of the on-rushing Nicolas Gaitan, who poked it over Salvatore Sirigu and into the net.

The stat
20 – The number of goals scored by Real Madrid during their six group-phase matches, a total that equals the record held jointly by Manchester United (1998-99) and Barcelona (2011-12).

Have your say
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