Barca, Bayern, Valencia and Shakhtar advance: Juventus leave Chelsea walking CL tightrope
LONDON, Nov 21: Chelsea are in danger of becoming the first titleholders to fail to make it out of the group stage after a crushing defeat by Juventus on Tuesday while Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Shakhtar Donetsk and Valencia reached the last 16 of the Champions League.
Juventus are favourites to join Shakhtar in the last 16 from Group ‘E’ after Chelsea’s fallow spell in the Premier League spilled over to Turin where Roberto di Matteo’s men were swept aside 3-0, with their fate now out of their hands going into the final roll of the group stage dice next month.
Fabio Quagliarella gave Juventus a 38th minute lead with a deflected shot and Arturo Vidal’s second half effort was also diverted past Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech on the hour. Sebastian Giovinco rounded off a dazzling performance from Juventus with a breakaway third in stoppage time.
Chelsea have to beat FC Nordsjaelland and hope for Shakhtar to defeat Juventus to go through at Juve’s expense.
“Last season the Champions League was like a dream, now this is like, not a nightmare, just very disappointing,” said Chelsea keeper Petr Cech. “We said before the game that we have our destiny in our hands, not any more. Now we need to do our bit, we need to win our last game and hope our fate is kind.
“Being realistic Juventus played very well and they need a point and Shakhtar are already through. It is a very sad moment.”
Shakhtar showed they are a force to be reckoned with after a crushing 5-2 win over FC Nordsjaelland, with Luiz Adriano scoring a hat-trick and Willian grabbing two goals.
Juventus assistant coach Angelo Alessio insists the players will not settle for a draw in Ukraine because “we’re not used to playing for a point, we want to win.”
Barcelona advanced for the ninth straight season after defeating Spartak Moscow 3-0 in Group ‘G’ with Lionel Messi scoring twice to move level with Ruud van Nistelrooy on 56 Champions League goals but behind Raul, the competition’s all time scorer with 71.
“My aim was just to get the ball, create chances and that we win the game, that is what is important,” said the Argentine icon.
“We knew we couldn’t afford to make mistakes and that we had to go out strongly even though it is difficult to play away in this competition.”
Daniel Alves put Barca ahead and Messi pounced twice before half-time to continue a remarkable season that includes 17 league goals and another five in the European Cup.
While Barca have an unassailable 12 points, the runners-up spot is in the balance after Benfica beat Celtic 2-1, meaning they both have seven points with one game left.
Argentine defender Ezequiel Garay volleyed home in the 71st to give Benfica the win it needed to stay in the tournament following a 32nd-minute equaliser from Greek forward Giorgos Samaras after Dutch striker Ola John gave Benfica an early lead.
Celtic host already-eliminated Spartak in their final group game knowing they will have to better Benfica’s result against Barca.
“I’m disappointed with the two goals we conceded. There was a lack of composure about us at times on the ball,” manager Neil Lennon said. “We have one more crack at it against Spartak and we live to fight another day.”
In Group ‘F’, Valencia took to the pitch against Bayern in the happy knowledge that they were through to the next round as a result of Lille’s earlier 2-0 win at BATE Borisov.
A 1-1 draw in Spain earned Bayern qualification from the group as well. Midfielder Sofiane Feghouli had put Valencia ahead with time running out, but Bayern held their nerve as Germany midfielder Thomas Mueller netted the equaliser.
“We put in a huge effort and did the best we could because they are a great team, so we are really very happy,” said Feghouli.
Valencia played two thirds of the match with 10 men after Antonio Barragan was sent off for a wild tackle on David Alaba in the 33rd minute.
“If you play with an extra man for an hour and have to be content with a 1-1 draw it’s not satisfactory,” Bayern chief Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said on the club’s website. “We have to put our foot on the gas again.”
Galatasaray kept alive their chances of reaching the knockout phase with a 1-0 victory over already-qualified Manchester United.
United, who left key players at home after losing 1-0 at Norwich in the Premier League at the weekend, were unable to respond to Burak Yilmaz’s header at the start of the second-half. Yilmaz has scored all five goals for Galatasaray in Group ‘H’.
They are vying with CFR Cluj for the runners-up spot in the group after the Romanians beat Braga 3-1 with a first-half hat-trick from Rui Pedro doing the damage.
Juventus 3 Chelsea 0
Nordsjaelland 2 Shakhtar Donetsk 5
Valencia 1 Bayern Munich 1
BATE Borisov 0 Lille 2
Benfica 2 Celtic 1
Spartak Moscow 0 Barcelona 3
Galatasaray 1 Manchester United 0
CFR Cluj 3 Braga 1—Agencies