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Rediff News  All News  » Sports » Champions League PIX: Manchester Utd's progress on hold; Chelsea in last 16

Champions League PIX: Manchester Utd's progress on hold; Chelsea in last 16

Last updated on: November 23, 2017 11:17 IST

Images from the UEFA Champions League matches played on Wednesday night.

United's progress on hold after Basel defeat

Michael Lang

IMAGE: FC Basel’s Michael Lang celebrates after the UEFA Champions League match against Manchester United, in Basel, on Wednesday. Photograph: Arnd Wiegmann/Reuters

Manchester United missed a chance to reach the Champions League knock-out stages with a match to spare for the first time since 2014 after a late goal condemned them to a 1-0 defeat at Basel in a pulsating Group A clash on Wednesday.

Midfielder Michael Lang tucked in an 89th minute winner for the Swiss side after Raoul Petretta found him with a pinpoint low cross at the far post, giving United’s stand-in keeper Sergio Romero no chance.

Basel’s late triumph created a complicated scenario ahead of the last round of games but United are still almost assured of progressing.

They need only to avoid defeat by more than six goals at home to CSKA Moscow to be sure of avoiding an embarrassing relegation to the second-tier Europa League, which they won last season.

United are still top of the section with 12 points from five games, three ahead of second-placed Basel and third-placed CSKA, who kept alive their hopes of reaching the last 16 with a 2-0 home win over Benfica earlier in the day.

United defender Daley Blind blamed himself for Basel’s late winner, saying that he had been too late in covering the dangerous Lang.

IMAGE: Manchester United's Romelu Lukaku tries to get the ball past Eder Alvarez Balanta of Basel. Photograph: Arnd Wiegmann/Reuters

Yet his manager Jose Mourinho, frustrated that his side had not completed the job and complaining that United had wasted the chance to be five goals ahead by half-time, was adamant the Dutchman should not be made a scapegoat.

“It is not fair for Blind to blame himself. He had a very positive game. We have to blame everyone on the pitch because we had so many chances,” Mourinho said.

“We don’t need to win the (final group) match, we don’t even need to draw, but obviously we will try to win.”

United hit the woodwork twice as they controlled the first half, with Anthony Martial shaving the outside of the post with a cross while Marcos Rojo’s defelected long-range effort cannoned off the crossbar.

Basel keeper Tomas Vaclik denied Romelu Lukaku with a fine save and Marouane Fellaini saw his header cleared off the line by Manuel Akanji as United pinned back the home side in the opening 45 minutes.

The tide turned after the break as the home side came out with all guns blazing, with right wing Renato Steffen firing just wide after a solo run while Lang’s header from a tight angle hit the bar.

With United fading, Basel sensed blood and Rojo had to make a last-gasp clearance in front of Dimitri Oberlin before Romero kept out a Serey Die pile-driver.

When United appeared to have sealed their progress, Petretta squared an inviting pass across the face of goal and Lang popped up at the far post to send the fervent home crowd into raptures.

Chelsea brush aside 10-man Qarabag, make last 16

IMAGE: Cesc Fabregas celebrates after scoring Chelsea's third goal. Photograph: Peter Cziborra/Reuters

Chelsea breezed into the last 16 of the Champions League after being helped to their 4-0 stroll over 10-man Qarabag by the award of a hotly-disputed first-half penalty and sending off in Baku on Wednesday.

The match turned decisively in the English champions' favour midway through the first half when Qarabag's captain Rashad Sadygov was dismissed for pulling down Willian in the box, allowing Eden Hazard to convert coolly from the spot.

Subsequently forced to play with 10 men for the next 69 minutes, the Azeri champions, who had made a promising start in Baku's Olympic Stadium, were outplayed with two brilliant goals from Willian and a Cesc Fabregas penalty completing the rout.

Chelsea's win put them on top of Group C on 10 points to guarantee their place in the knockout rounds, two points clear of AS Roma, who play at Atletico Madrid later on Wednesday. Qarabag remain rooted to the foot of the table on two points.

The sending off, which enraged Qarabag and a 68,000 capacity crowd, came soon after the home side's Spanish midfielder Michel had hit the bar.

IMAGE: Chelsea's Eden Hazard scores from the penalty spot. Photograph: Peter Cziborra/Reuters

Yet everything changed in the 20th minute when Willian, trying to latch on to Hazard's slick pass, tumbled under what looked an innocuous challenge from the vastly experienced 35-year-old Sadygov, leading to a lengthy protest and an impromptu Qarabag team meeting before the penalty was taken.

The Portuguese referee Manuel De Sousa, though, had felt the defender had tugged on the Brazilian's left arm.

The visitors inevitably then took command with a dazzling four-man combination ending with a Hazard back-heel setting up a 37th-minute finish from Willian.

Chelsea manager Antonio Conte, who had started striker Alvaro Morata on the bench and brought back the out out-of-favour David Luiz, was content largely to sit on the lead after the break as the match meandered to its inevitable conclusion.

Still, another foul on Willian in the 73rd minute by Maksim Medvedev led to Fabregas scoring from a penalty that he had to convert twice after his first successful attempt had been ruled out for encroachment.

Willian, who had been involved in all four of the goals, then completed the demolition job by riding a challenge and thundering home a 20-metre strike with five minutes left.

Barcelona qualify with draw at Juventus

IMAGE: Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon took off his gloves and his shorts and threw them into the crowd at the end of the match at the Allianz stadium in Turin. Photograph: Michael Steele/Getty Images

Barcelona allowed themselves the luxury of starting with Lionel Messi on the bench and still held out for a 0-0 draw at Juventus to reach the last 16 of the Champions League in Turin on Wednesday.

Barcelona, who brought on Messi early in the second half, enjoyed long spells of possession but used it as a defensive tactic to stop Juventus attacking rather than creating chances themselves.

Juve were lacklustre, with forward Gonzalo Higuain barely getting a look-in as they failed to score in a home match for the first time since September last year.

The Turin side nearly snatched a win in stoppage time but Paulo Dybala's low shot from the edge of the area was turned around the post by goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen.

Even so, coach Massimiliano Allegri enjoyed the match. "It was a nice game from a tactical point of view, the lads worked hard to defend well," he said. "We were more interested in the performance than the result."

IMAGE: Lionel Messi, left, of Barcelona tries to get past Sami Khedira of Juventus. Photograph: Michael Steele/Getty Images

The Serie A side, who are second in Group D, will qualify for the last 16 unless they fail to beat Olympiakos away in their final game next month and Sporting win at Barcelona.

Sporting kept alive their own hopes by beating Olympiakos 3-1 in Lisbon in the other game with Bas Dost scoring twice. Bruno Cesar was also on target for Sporting and Vadis Odjidja-Ofoe scored a late consolation for the Greeks who were eliminated.

Barcelona, who played their second successive goalless draw in the group, have 11 points and are guaranteed to finish top. Juve are on eight, Sporting on seven and Olympiakos on one.

Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde said that Messi had needed a rest. "He had to take a break at some point... he's been playing a lot of games," he said.

Barcelona were closest to a first-half goal when a long-range Ivan Rakitic free kick found its way through the penalty area, bounced off the post and fell to Paulinho, who was unable to take advantage.

Paulinho's other notable contribution was to be booked for diving in the penalty area while Luis Suarez was largely anonymous.

Dybala had Juve's best first-half effort when he dribbled around three defenders but he fired over from a difficult angle.

Messi's entrance changed little although the Argentine came close when he curled a long-range free kick over the bar.

Barcelona should have scored when Juan Cuadrado slipped and let in Lucas Digne but, instead of shooting, he tried to pass to Suarez and the Juve defence intercepted the ball.

The most entertaining moment came after the final whistle when Juve goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon took off his gloves and his shorts and threw them into the crow.

Bayern stretch winning run at Anderlecht

Robert Lewandowski

IMAGE: Robert Lewandowski celebrates scoring Bayern Munich's first goal. Photograph: Yves Herman/Reuters

Robert Lewandowski and Corentin Tolisso scored to earn already-qualified Bayern Munich a scrappy 2-1 Champions League win at Anderlecht on Wednesday, stretching their winning streak under coach Jupp Heynckes to nine matches in all competitions.

Lewandowski put the visitors ahead six minutes after halftime but Sofiane Hanni’s volley on the hour gave the Belgians, who had missed a bagful of golden chances in the first half, their first Champions League goal of the season.

France’s Tolisso, however, rose high to head in a Joshua Kimmich cross in the 77th minute and leave Anderlecht bottom of the group and without a point from five matches.

Bayern are on 12 points, three adrift of Paris St Germain, who were 7-1 winners against Celtic and are the Germans’ final group opponents next month.

Heynckes, who led Bayern to a treble in 2013, took over last month following the sacking of Carlo Ancelotti and quickly turned their season around.

Griezmann stunner keeps Atletico hopes alive

Antoine Griezmann

IMAGE: Atletico Madrid's Antoine Griezmann volleys to score his team's opening goal against AS Roma at the Wanda Metropolitano in Madrid. Photograph: Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

Antoine Griezmann's spectacular scissors-kick helped earn Atletico Madrid a 2-0 win over Roma on Wednesday to keep alive their slim hopes of qualifying for the Champions League last 16.

The striker scored his first goal in nine games in the 69th minute before setting up Kevin Gameiro for the second in the closing stages to silence his critics.

Diego Simeone rotated his side, appearing almost to give up on qualification, but the 2014 and 2016 finalists stayed true to their motto, ‘Never stop believing’, to earn their first win of the competition and take things down to the final match of the group phase on Dec. 5.

Atletico are two points behind Roma and must beat group leaders Chelsea at Stamford Bridge and hope Qarabag get at least a draw in Italy if the Spanish side are to qualify.

Simeone chose to play midfielder Thomas Partey at right back, replacing Juanfran, who was ruled out shortly before the game with a hamstring injury.

Soccer Football - Champions League - Atletico Madrid vs Roma - Wanda Metropolitano, Madrid, Spain - November 22, 2017 Roma's Radja Nainggolan in action REUTERS/Juan Medina
Key defender Diego Godin was rested while Stefan Savic’s suspension meant Lucas Hernandez joined Jose Gimenez at the back -- an untested pairing in a makeshift defence.

At the other end veteran striker Fernando Torres, handed his first start since the opening day of the season in August, struggled to make an impact, while both Antoine Griezmann and Koke failed to reach Yannick Carrasco’s dangerous low cross.

Roma were on top, with Diego Perotti giving Partey a torrid time, although Atletico came closest to scoring in the first period when Augusto Fernandez beat Alisson with a deflected long-range strike, but the goal was chalked off after he controlled the ball with his arm in the build-up.

Simeone took off Fernandez, who was making only his second start of the season, for Angel Correa and moved to an attacking 4-2-4 formation as the hosts chased the second-half goal that would keep them in the competition.

It eventually came at the end of a neat team-move, with Correa crossing and Griezmann volleying home in acrobatic fashion at the far post.

French striker Griezmann, who was booed by Atletico fans after failing to find the net in the derby clash with Real Madrid on Saturday, then played in Gameiro, who squeezed home from the tightest of angles to seal the win.

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