Lisbon: Reigning champions Real Madrid, Juventus, Monaco, Leicester City and Bayer Leverkusen all clinched berths in the knockout stage while Tottenham Hotspur were eliminated from the Champions League football competition.
Atletico Madrid, Bayern Munich, Arsenal, Paris Saint-Germain and Borussia Dortmund play their matches on Wednesday having already qualified for the round of 16, reports Efe.
Real Madrid beat Sporting 2-1 due to a late goal by French striker Karim Benzema here on Tuesday. Defender Raphael Varane put Madrid ahead 1-0. But a hand ball by Madrid’s defender Fabio Coentrao allowed Adrian Silva to equalise for Sporting.
With 11 points, the title-holders have a lock on the second place in Group F and a chance to grab the top spot with a win against group leader Germany’s Borussia Dortmund in the final group-stage match at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid.
Madrid’s coach Zinedine Zidane said after the match: “We had some tough moments during the game, but that was to be expected because we mentioned earlier about how it was going to be a difficult match. Sporting showed good intensity and we had some difficulties.”
“The good thing is that we didn’t give up after they got their goal. We kept on playing and scored a very good goal to win the game. Now it’s time to rest because having to play every three days isn’t easy. Perhaps we lacked a bit of energy.”
In Dortmund, Borussia combined with bottom-placed Poland’s Legia Warsaw to produce a high-scoring contest, eventually winning 8-4. The visitors took an early 1-0 lead but the hosts fought back to complete an amazing win, to top the group with 13 points.
Italian champions Juventus beat their Spanish hosts Sevilla 3-1 to climb to 11 points and first place in Group H. France’s Olympique Lyon eliminated Croatia’s Dinamo Zagreb, beating them 1-0 to increase their total to seven points.
Sevilla, with 10 points, will have to emerge from their final match against Lyon with atleast a draw to be assured of advancing.
Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri said after winning: “I’m a happy man tonight – above all because we’ve secured qualification but also because we played well.”
“We were better in the first half than in the second yet our opponents scored with their only chance after 10 minutes. After the restart Sevilla closed down all the space. It was no easy task coming here and winning – but we deserved it.”
Having got the job done, Allegri is already looking forward to the hectic month that lies ahead.
“We’ve achieved our first target of the season, which was to qualify from our group. Now we have to beat Dinamo to make sure of the first place.”
France’s Monaco beat English side Tottenham 2-1 to win Group E with 11 points, 4 ahead of fellow qualifier Germany’s Bayer Leverkusen, who drew 1-1 with Russian outfit CSKA Moscow.
English champions Leicester defeated Belgium’s Club Brugge 2-1 to climb to 13 points and ensure finishing top in Group G.
The second berth remains to be decided, as Portugal’s Porto, with 8 points, managed only a 0-0 draw with Denmark’s FC Copenhagen, who trail the Portuguese club by two points with one match left to be played.