PARIS: Juventus, Chelsea and Sevilla all claimed last-gasp wins as they qualified for the Champions League last 16 on Tuesday, while Martin Braithwaite grabbed a double in Barcelona’s 4-0 victory at Dynamo Kiev as they also secured a place in the knockout rounds.
They are the first teams to make it out of the group stage, doing so with two games to spare, on a night which saw Erling Braut Haaland, Neymar, Cristiano Ronaldo and Bruno Fernandes all get among the goals.
There was no Lionel Messi for Barcelona, with the Argentine rested for the trip to Ukraine, but Ronald Koeman’s side got the job done to make it four wins from four in Group ‘G’.
All the goals came in the second half, with Sergino Dest opening the scoring before Danish striker Braithwaite added another and then converted a penalty to make it 3-0.
On as a substitute, Antoine Griezmann wrapped up the win on the night young centre-back Oscar Mingueza, Brazilian midfielder Matheus Fernandes and teenage American winger Konrad de la Fuente were all blooded in the first team.
“We’ve achieved our objective,” said Koeman. “We looked hungry and scored four goals. Important players were able to rest and the youngsters deserved their minutes.”
Juventus joined Barcelona in qualifying from Group ‘G’ but the Italian champions needed a stoppage-time header by substitute Alvaro Morata to beat Ferencvaros 2-1 in Turin and seal their progress.
Albanian international Myrto Uzuni put the Hungarians ahead but Ronaldo drilled in the equaliser before half-time, meaning he has scored in 15 consecutive Champions League seasons.
Chelsea are through from Group ‘E’ after edging Rennes 2-1 in France, with Olivier Giroud coming off the bench to head in an injury-time winner. Serhou Guirassy had cancelled out Callum Hudson-Odoi’s breakaway opener.
Last season’s Europa League winners Sevilla will not get to defend their trophy as they advanced to the last 16 of Europe’s elite club competition and did so with a 2-1 win over Krasnodar in Russia, in a rare game played before a sizeable crowd.
Ivan Rakitic’s drilled strike put the Spaniards in front only for the Brazilian Wanderson to equalise, but Munir El Haddadi won it for Sevilla five minutes into added time.
Sevilla and Chelsea are level on 10 points but Frank Lampard’s side go to Spain next week, when the winner will secure top spot.
Manchester United are in pole position in Group ‘H’ after a first-half Fernandes brace set them on their way to a 4-1 victory over Istanbul Basaksehir that made up for a 2-1 defeat in Turkey last time out.
The opener by Fernandes was a thunderous strike from outside the box, while the second was a tap-in after a horrible error by Mert Gunok in the away goal.
Marcus Rashford added a penalty, but there was a fightback from the away side, with Deniz Turuc’s free-kick crossing the line before David de Gea could claw it away.
Edin Visca crashed a shot off the bar, but Daniel James made sure of the victory on the counter-attack.
“It’s a Champions League night at Old Trafford, you’d expect them to enjoy themselves,” United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said of his team. “We scored some very nice goals, I’m pleased.”
Solskjaer’s side are three points clear of both Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) and RB Leipzig, after an early Neymar penalty gave the French side a 1-0 win over their German visitors.
PSG go to Old Trafford next week.
Borussia Dortmund need just one more point to qualify from Group ‘F’ following a 3-0 win over Club Brugge as the prolific Haaland netted twice either side of a Jadon Sancho free-kick in Germany.
Haaland has 16 goals for the season, and has now scored 16 Champions League goals in just 12 appearances — Messi had two goals and Ronaldo none after the same number of appearances.
Published in Dawn, November 26th, 2020