Champions League roundup: PSG cruise into last-16 on Zlatan’s hometown return
Griezmann scores two as Atletico Madrid and Benfica also march on
Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored on his return to hometown club Malmo as Paris Saint-Germain strolled into the Champions League last 16 on Wednesday after routing their Group A rivals 5-0 in Sweden.
Atletico Madrid and Benfica joined the French side in clinching qualification with a game to spare.
First-half goals from Adrien Rabiot and Angel Di Maria put the French champions in control before Ibrahimovic struck just after the interval.
Di Maria was then on target again before Lucas added a late fifth to ensure PSG's progression to the knockout phase for the fourth straight year.
“I lived a dream tonight, coming back. On top of that I scored one. I'm very happy,” said Ibrahimovic.
“Since the beginning, there's a great relationship between Malmo's fans and me.”
Fellow goalscorer Rabiot added: “We thought it would have been harder. We did the job and we're through. I'm very proud of my first Champions League goal.”
However, Real Madrid's 4-3 victory over Shakhtar Dontesk means that PSG go through as runners-up, exposing Laurent Blanc's side to the possibility of being drawn against Barcelona or Bayern Munich in the next round.
“There was a chance to finish top of our group. It was a shame we had that defeat [against Real],” bemoaned Blanc, whose side round out their group campaign at home to Shakhtar.
Antoine Griezmann struck twice as Atletico sealed their place with a 2-0 win over Galatasaray at the Vicente Calderon.
Just as in the first meeting between the sides in a 2-0 Atletico win back in September, Griezmann was the difference as the Frenchman struck either side of half-time to take Diego Simeone’s men into the last 16 for the third consecutive season.
The result ensured that Benfica, who drew 2-2 at Kazakh champions Astana earlier in the day, also go through to the draw for the first knockout round.
Atletico and Benfica are tied on 10 points at the top of Group C with top spot up for grabs when they meet in Lisbon in two weeks’ time.
“It is very important for the fans, for the club to be in the last 16 again and now we have to be looking for the first place,” Simeone said.
“In the first half I think we had a lot of dominance of the ball and created few chances. In the second we had both and when you have more chances, sooner or later the goals will arrive.”
It is the first time Atletico have made the knockout stages for three consecutive seasons in their history.
And captain Gabi hailed the side’s consistency in Europe over recent seasons.
“We work very hard to achieve what we are doing,” he said.
“It seems easy. As if all we are doing is normal, but that is thanks to the stability and work of the team.”
Elsewhere, in Juventus and Man City’s group Sevilla lost 4-2 to Borussia Moenchengladbach in Germany.
Lars Stindl scored twice for Gladbach either side of a brilliant Fabian Johnson goal and a Raffael strike with Vitolo and Ever Banega, from a penalty, replying for Sevilla.
Sevilla, Europa League winners in each of the last two seasons, now must beat Juve in their final game and hope Gladbach don’t defeat City just to claim the consolation of dropping into the secondary competition.
Wolfsburg are top of Manchester United’s group after Andre Schuerrle came off the bench to provoke an Igor Akinfeev own goal and score one of his own in a 2-0 defeat of CSKA Moscow in Russia.
On Tuesday, holders Barcelona qualified for the knockout stage with a 6-1 win over Roma, while Bayern Munich joined them by beating Olympiakos 4-0 and Zenit St Petersburg, who had already qualified, made it five wins in a row by beating Valencia 2-0 in Group H.
HOW THE LAST 16 IS SHAPING UP: (via uefa.com)
|Club||Qualified for round of 16||Can still reach round of 16||Cannot finish in top two||Cannot finish in top three|
|Barcelona||✓ (group winners)|
|Bayern München||✓ (group winners)|
|Paris||✓ (group runners-up)|
|Real Madrid||✓ (group winners)|
|Zenit||✓ (group winners)|