Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Madrid, Chelsea march on in Champions League

Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Ronaldinho were the heroes for AC Milan as their goals helped the seven-time champions secure a 2-0 victory over Auxerre in the Champions League to progress to the tournament’s knockout stages.
Already qualified Real Madrid cruised to a 4-0 victory away to Ajax Amsterdam to top Group G despite finishing the game with nine men while Chelsea beat MSK Zilina to be also assured of finishing top of their group.
Shakhtar Donetsk and Marseille booked their places in the last 16 with comfortable away victories while AS Roma beat already qualified Bayern to stay in strong contention for making it to the next phase.
Milan needed a victory against Auxerre to be guaranteed of making it to the next round from Group G and went ahead through Ibrahimovic, who has now scored four times in five Champions League games.
Ronaldinho secured the win with Milan’s second in time added on.
Ajax’s hopes of making it to the next round from the same group evaporated as they were thumped 4-0 at home by already qualified Real Madrid, with Cristiano Ronaldo netting a brace.
However, the Spanish side’s celebrations were marred by the late dismissals of Xabi Alonso and Sergio Ramos, who were both sent off after picking up second yellow cards for time wasting.

Chelsea posts win
Chelsea ensured themselves of top spot in Group F with a 2-1 win at home to MSK Zilina. Babatounde Bello gave the Slovaks a surprise early lead at Stamford bridge after some neat build-up work with Robert Jez but second-half goals from Daniel Sturridge and Florent Malouda gave Carlo Ancelotti’s side victory.
Olympique Marseille enjoyed a 3-0 win away to Spartak Moscow to secure second spot in the group and book their place in the tournament’s knockout stages. Mathieu Valbuena put the visitors in front after 18 minutes at the Luzhniki Stadion with Loic Remy doubling the French side’s lead nine minutes after the restart.
Spartak were reduced to 10 men on 64 minutes after Welliton received his marching orders for a push on Souleymane Diawara and Brandao secured Marseille’s place in the last 16 four minutes later with a firmly struck shot from the edge of the area to make it 3-0.
The victory means Marseille are assured of second place with nine points from five matches, four points adrift of Chelsea ahead of the final group match between the two sides on December 8.

Arsenal stunned
In Group H, Matheus struck twice in the final nine minutes to give Sporting Braga a 2-0 win over Arsenal to put Arsene Wenger’s side’s qualification for the last 16 in doubt.
Braga pulled level with Arsenal on nine points, three behind Shakhtar Donetsk, who beat Partizan Belgrade 3-0 to advance to the next phase. The tie was scoreless at the break but second-half goals from Taras Stepanenko, Jadson and Eduardo ensured a comfortable win for the Ukrainians.
Last year’s finalists Bayern Munich went down 3-2 to AS Roma but are still guaranteed to finish top of Group E. The German champions raced into a two-goal lead through a first-half double from Mario Gomez but second-half goals from Marco Borriello, Daniele de Rossi and a penalty from substitute Francesco Totti turned the game in the home side’s favour.

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