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Rediff.com  » Sports » CL: Milan, Marseille march on, Arsenal stumble

CL: Milan, Marseille march on, Arsenal stumble

Last updated on: November 24, 2010 10:42 IST

Ibrahimovic on target for Milan

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Striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic hit the target for AC Milan yet again on Tuesday as the former winners took their place in the last 16 of the Champions League along with an inspired Olympique Marseille.

The pair qualified with a game to spare by taking runners-up spots in their groups after Milan won 2-0 at Auxerre and Marseille thrashed Spartak Moscow 3-0 to reach the knockout stages for the first time since they won the trophy in 1993.

Arsenal's hopes of joining them were put on hold after the North Londoners, needing only a point to qualify, suffered a late collapse and lost 2-0 to Braga in Portugal.

Holders Inter Milan can secure a place in the knockout phase at home to Twente Enschede on Wednesday with former champions Manchester United and Barcelona also set to progress.


Image: Zlatan Ibrahimovic celebrates after scoring a goal against agaisnt AJ Auxerre in Auxerre
Photographs: Reuters
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'It was a difficult match, a difficult venue'

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AC Milan had Ibrahimovic to thank once more as they beat Auxerre to go through from Group G, with the in-form Swede opening the scoring with his fourth goal in five group games.

"We tried our hearts out. It was a difficult match, a difficult venue. We can relax a bit in the last game", he said.

The Italian side secured runners-up spot behind rampant Real Madrid, the nine-times European Cup winners who triumphed 4-0 at Ajax Amsterdam thanks to a brace from Cristiano Ronaldo and goals from Karim Benzema and Alvaro Arbeloa.

Real finished with nine men after Xabi Alonso and Sergio Ramos picked up a second booking for time wasting late on.


Image: AC Milan's Goalkeeper Abbiati jumps to make a save during their match against AJ Auxerre in Auxerre

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Sturridge brightens gloom for Ancelotti

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Chelsea put aside uncertainty over their immediate future with a performance that boded well for the longer term as their young players inspired a 2-1 comeback win over MSK Zilina in the Champions League on Tuesday.

An equaliser from 21-year-old Daniel Sturridge and assured displays from 17-year-old midfielder Josh McEachran, 19-year-old defender Jeffrey Bruma and 20-year-old defender Patrick van Aanholt in the second half helped Chelsea to victory after going behind in the 19th minute.

Florent Malouda scored a late winner to leave Chelsea with a maximum 15 points from their five matches, and guaranteed first place in Group F, followed by Olympique Marseille (9), who won 3-0 at Spartak Moscow (6). Zilina are bottom with no points.

Zilina went ahead through Babatounde Bello and held that lead until six minutes into the second half when Sturridge equalised with a close range effort in Chelsea's 100th match in Europe's elite club competition.

The London side then dominated the second half before finally getting the goal they deserved through Malouda's tap-in four minutes from time.

"It was important to win and move on," said Ancelotti.

"We have now had 60 shots at goal in our last two games but only scored twice. We have been unlucky not to score more but the young players have had some good experience tonight and showed the quality they can bring to the team," he added.


Image: Chelsea's Malouda celebrates scoring against MSK Zilina at Stamford Bridge

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Arsenal stumble

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Brazilian forward Matheus struck two late goals to give Braga a 2-O win over Arsenal in the Champions League on Tuesday and deny the London team the satisfaction of sealing their progress into the second round.

Arsenal, who had needed only a draw to qualify with a game to spare, lost the Group H lead to Shakhtar Donetsk, 3-0 winners over bottom team Partizan Belgrade.

Braga drew level with Arsenal on nine points, but need to beat Shakhtar by a margin of four goals away on December 8, or draw and hope that Partizan take points off Arsenal at the Emirates.

"We have to believe. We could reach the end of the group with three teams on 12 points. But we know perfectly well that it will not be easy," Braga coach Domingos Paciencia said.

Braga had conceded six goals in their group-stage debut at Arsenal in September but were much improved at home, giving the English side little room to deploy their smooth passing game.

"We have to win the next match. With these results, Shakhtar becomes favourite to win the group," Arsenal coach Arsene Wenger told Portuguese television.


Image: Sporting Braga's Matheus Nascimento celebrates his goal against Arsenal at Braga City stadium

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Roma rebound

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Already-qualified Bayern Munich lost 3-2 to Roma at the Stadio Olimpico and lost their 100 per cent record despite Mario Gomez scoring with two quick fire strikes in the 33rd and 39th to send them in 2-0 up at halftime.

Booed off at the break, Roma fought back with goals from Marco Borriello, Daniele de Rossi and substitute Francesco Totti who converted an 84th minute penalty for the winner.

"We gave the match away like a present," Bayern coach Louis van Gaal told German TV. "It is unbelievable, we were so dominant. Then our concentration was gone. This defeat is not good for our self esteem," he added.

FC Basel kept alive their slim hopes of getting out of Group E with a 1-0 win over Romania's CFR Cluj.

The Swiss champions need a win at Bayern in their final game while hoping Roma lose at Cluj who are already eliminated.


Image: AS Roma's Francesco Totti scores from a penalty past Bayern Munich goalkeeper Thomas Kraft during their match at the Olympic stadium in Rome

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