Champions League round-up: Barcelona advance as Bayern Munich settle for a runner-up spot
Failing to top a Champions League group often comes back to bite teams when the competition really gets going in the last 16. Maybe not this season.
Failing to top a Champions League group often comes back to bite teams when the competition really gets going in the round of 16.
Maybe not this season.
Bayern Munich and Manchester City are two high-profile teams who are guaranteed to advance as runners-up following the latest round of group games in Europe’s top competition on Wednesday.
Bayern surprisingly lost 3-2 at tournament newcomers FC Rostov and will finish group D behind Atletico Madrid, who beat PSV Eindhoven 2-0 and are the only team to have won all five of their group games.
City drew 1-1 at Borussia Moenchengladbach and cannot now topple Barcelona, who secured first place in group C by beating Celtic 2-0 thanks to a Lionel Messi double.
Arsenal are likely to finish in second place in group A after drawing with Paris Saint-Germain 2-2.
Real Madrid, the reigning champions, are another top team sitting as runners-up in a group heading into the final round of games, while Juventus and Sevilla are battling for first and second place in group H.
It remains to be seen whether teams benefit this season from topping the group, which earns a last-16 match against a runner-up.
Ludogorets Razgrad and FC Basel drew 0-0, leaving them on two points each in group A and sending their fight for third place to the final round of group matches.
Qualification could have been determined in group B on Wednesday, but a couple of draws mean three teams are fighting for two spots going into the final round of group matches.
Napoli could have advanced in record time a month ago, but are still not guaranteed a top-two finish after drawing 0-0 at home to Dynamo Kiev.
Besiktas rallied from an early three-goal deficit to draw with Benfica 3-3, with Vincent Aboubakar scoring an 89th-minute equaliser.
Napoli have eight points along with Benfica, with Besiktas a point adrift. Dynamo were eliminated. In the last round, Benfica host Napoli and Besiktas visit Kiev.
Messi steered Barcelona to a 13th straight appearance in the knockout stage by moving to nine goals for the competition this season, which is more than 20 of the 32 competing teams have managed.
Messi drove in a 24th-minute opener against Celtic before converting a penalty in the 55th, for his 92nd goal in the Champions League. Five of his nine goals in the group stage have come against Celtic, following his hat trick in a 7-0 win over the Scottish champions at Camp Nou in September.
Barcelona are four points clear of City, who earned the point they needed to qualify against Moenchengladbach.
Few would have imagined that FC Rostov’s first-ever victory in the Champions League would come at the expense of Bayern, five-time winners and one of the favourites this season.
Bayern have already qualified but are guaranteed to finish second in the group.
Rostov replied to Douglas Costa’s opener with goals by Sardar Azmoun and Dmitry Poloz, who scored from the penalty spot. Juan Bernat equalised for Bayern before Christian Noboa curled in a 67th-minute free kick for the winning goal.
Rostov lost 5-0 in the first match between the teams, two months ago.
That meant Atletico needed only a point at home to PSV Eindhoven but the Spanish team got all three, and maintained their 100 per cent record in the group stage. Kevin Gameiro and Antoine Griezmann were the scorers in the second half.