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Rediff.com  » Sports » CL: Arsenal, Roma, Shakhtar complete last 16 line-up

CL: Arsenal, Roma, Shakhtar complete last 16 line-up

Last updated on: December 9, 2010 09:36 IST

Arsenal settle for second spot in Group H

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Arsenal, Roma and Shakhtar Donetsk completed a heavyweight line-up for the last 16 of the Champions League on Wednesday, shrugging off closing-night nerves as the final round of matches was marred by crowd trouble in Slovakia.

Arsenal took the lead thanks to a Robin van Persie penalty but were pegged back early in the second half and needed goals from Theo Walcott and Samir Nasri to secure a 3-1 win at home to Partizan Belgrade and squeeze through in second spot in Group H.

Shakhtar kept Braga at bay before striking twice in the second half for a 2-0 home win that was enough for them to take first place ahead of Arsenal, while Roma held on for a drab 1-1 draw at CFR Cluj to qualify behind Bayern Munich in Group F.

Surprises were thin on the ground in the group phase and the draw for the last 16, to be held on December. 17, will feature the might of European club soccer.

Absent from the draw will be Zilina and Spartak Moscow, whose Group F game in Slovakia was held up for 20 minutes when fans launched a firecracker on to the pitch.


Image: Arsenal's Theo Walcott and Samir Nasri celebrate after scoring a goal against Partizan Belgrade during their Champions League match at the Emirates Stadium
Photographs: Reuters
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Chelsea lose at Marseille

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Bayern, Chelsea, Olympique Marseille, Real Madrid and AC Milan had already secured their places heading into Wednesday's final matches.

However, Brazilian striker Brandao piled on the misery for out-of-form Chelsea with the only goal in Olympique Marseille's 1-0 victory in Champions League Group F match.

Brandao tapped the ball past keeper Petr Cech from close range with nine minutes to go after a left-wing cross from Taye Taiwo was deflected into his path.

Chelsea, who have picked up just five points from the last 18 in the Premier League, produced another sluggish performance and Didier Drogba was taken off on the hour after the Ivory Coast forward struggled on his return to his former club.

Defeat ended Chelsea's 100 per cent record in the group as they finished with 15 points from six games, three ahead of Marseille. Both teams had already qualified for the knockout stages.

"We are in a difficult situation, we are losing confidence ... and we are not very lucky," Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti told reporters.

"Tonight was our opportunity to restart a positive spiral.

"This weekend we are playing Tottenham in the Premier League, a top team in good form. I am more worried for my team (than for my future)," he added.


Image: Olympique Marseille's Brando fights for the ball with Chelsea's John Terry during their Champions League match

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Benzema hat-trick crushes Auxerre

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The most emphatic winners on the final night of Champions League action before 2011 were Real Madrid, who helped themselves to a 4-0 win over Auxerre in Group G with a hat-trick from Karim Benzema and one from Cristiano Ronaldo.

With his side already qualified for the last 16 of the competition as group winners, Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho took the chance to give time to fringe players such as Raul Albiol and Pedro Leon.

After being left on the bench at the weekend against Valencia, Benzema started in attack, while Ronaldo also played despite being at risk of a yellow card, which would have seen him suspended for the first game of the knockout phase.

Auxerre traveled to Madrid needing a win to have a chance of finishing third in the group and having a chance of reaching the consolation prize of the Europa League.

Benzema wasted no time in opening the scoring: Ronaldo sent over an inch perfect cross and the striker was on hand to head home from close to the goal line.

It was his second goal in consecutive Champions League games and Real Madrid's 300th goal since the competition became known by that name in 1992.

Ronaldo made it 2-0 a minute later with a neat finish from Marcelo's cross and Benzema added a third with 20 minutes later following a pass from Lassana Diarra.

He completed his hat-trick in the last minute following an error from Auxerre keeper Sorin.


Image: Real Madrid's Karim Benzema celebrates with Cristiano Ronaldo after scoring during their Champions League match against Auxerre

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Shakhtar cruise into last 16

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Shakhtar Donetsk completed a fine campaign as Group H winners after a 2-0 win over Braga on Wednesday sent the Ukraine side into the Champions League last 16 for the first time.

Second-half goals by Razvan Rat and Luiz Adriano secured victory and ended Braga's hopes of also progressing.

Rat struck after 78 minutes at the Donbass Arena and Adriano sealed Shakhtar's fifth win from six group games with a second goal five minutes later.

Shakhtar finished with 15 points, three more than Arsenal who join them in the last 16. Braga take a Europa League place.

Chances were few for both sides in an uneventful first half.

But after the break, Shakhtar began to stamp their authority in midfield forcing Braga into several fouls and reducing the Portuguese side into trying speculative long-range shots.

Rat broke the deadlock when he gained possession on the edge of the penalty area after a pass from Darijo Srna and rifled the ball past Braga keeper Artur.

The Romanian then turned creator for the second, crossing for an unmarked Adriano to tap in.


Image: Shakhtar Donetsk 's Razvan Rat celebrates with team-mates after scoring against Braga

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Ajax win at Milan

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Ajax Amsterdam bagged a Europa League place in Frank De Boer's first game in temporary charge after a confident 2-0 win at a second-string AC Milan in their final Champions League Group G match on Wednesday.

Demy de Zeeuw rifled in after 57 minutes and Toby Alderweireld smashed home from further out in an open game, where Ronaldinho started for Milan for the first time in eight matches with Zlatan Ibrahimovic rested for an hour.

Auxerre's defeat at group winners Real Madrid meant the San Siro match was ultimately irrelevant given Serie A leaders Milan were already certain to finish second and make the last 16 while Ajax went into the game in third where they remained.

Martin Jol quit as Ajax boss on Monday and Netherlands assistant coach De Boer, a former player for the Amsterdam side, has been installed as caretaker until the winter break.

He tinkered little with the system and the visitors had the best early chances, Miralem Sulejmani forcing Marco Amelia into the first of several saves before De Zeeuw struck from the edge of the box and Alderweireld spectacularly scored on 66 minutes.


Image: AC Milan's Bonera fights for the ball with Ajax's Suarez during their Champions League match in Milan

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