Defending champions Chelsea exited the Champions League on Wednesday night, despite hammering Danish champions Nordsjaelland 6-1 at Stamford Bridge.
The first half was a tale of three penalties. Nordsjaelland’s Nicolai Stokholm and Chelsea’s Eden Hazard both saw efforts saved from the spot-kicks.
However, Brazilian defender David Luiz made no mistake from the spot in the 39th minute to give the Blues the lead. Fernando Torres made it two, at the second time of asking just before the interval.
The Danish champions looked like they were back in it seconds into the second half, Joshua John chipping over Petr Cech to give Nordsjaelland hope of a comeback.
That hope didn’t last long as Gary Cahill headed home Chelsea’s third, Torres scored his brace from close-range, before Juan Mata scored another close-range effort. Substitute Oscar added a sixth in the 71st minute, but the result didn’t matter in the end.
Juventus won 1-0 in Donetsk, which meant that the Italian champions went through instead of the Blues. The only goal of the game came from Olexander Kucher, who put the ball past his own keeper.
The two results mean that Juventus go through as group winners and Shakhtar go through as runners-up. Chelsea finishing third means that the European champions will go into the Europa League knockout stages. They are the first holders of the competition to go out at the group stage.
A British that did qualify for the knockout stages was Celtic, who defeated Spartak Moscow 2-1 at Celtic Park. Celtic took the lead in the first half through a superbly struck Gary Hooper effort. However, the Russians were back on level terms just before the break, Brazilian striker Ari clipping the ball past Fraser Forster in the Celtic goal.
Celtic needed a goal to go through and in the 82nd minute found one. Georgios Samaras went down in the penalty area under a challenge from Marek Suchy and the referee pointed to the spot. Midfielder Kris Commons kept his nerve to fire the spot kick in off the underside of the cross bar.
Both sides ended up with ten-men, as Spartak’s Kim Kallstrom was dismissed for a reckless tackle on Commons, which resulted in the midfielder being stretchered from the field.
Celtic held onto to the victory and Benfica could only draw 0-0 in Barcelona. Barca put out a second string side, with superstar Lionel Messi only making a late appearance. The Portuguese side will now be in the knockout stages of the Europa League.
A largely second string Manchester United were defeated 1-0 at home to Romanian champions Cluj. Brazilian Luis Alberto scored the only goal of the game with a fantastic long range effort just after the interval.
The Winner wasn’t enough to take Cluj through to the knockout stages though as Galatasaray won 2-1 at Braga. Mossoro gave the Portuguese side the lead in the first half. However, Galatasaray put in a superb performance in the second half and goals from Burak Yilmaz and Aydin Yilmaz were enough to ensure their progress into the knockout stages.
Manchester United finished as group winners and Galatasaray as runners-up. Romanian champions Cluj finished third and claim the place in the Europa League knockout stages.
Bayern Munich won Group F, as the German side defeated BATE Borisov 4-1 at the Allianz Arena. Bayern’s goals came from Mario Gomez, Thomas Muller, Xedran Shaqiri and David Alba. Bayern’s Jerome Boateng was sent-off just after the interval, but the dismissal had no effect on the result.
BATE did get a consolation goal in injury-time through Egor Filipenko, but it was too little too late for the Belarusians. They did however qualify for the Europa League, after Valencia won 1-0 in Lille courtesy of a Jonas penalty.
The Spanish team finish as group runners-up and Lille finish rock-bottom of the group. Meanwhile as expected Bayern finished top of the pile in Group F.
How far can Celtic go in this seasons Champions League?