There was plenty of drama on matchday six in the Uefa Champions League with Chelsea and Marseille recording the big results of the evening.
Chelsea 3 (Drogba 3’, 76’, Ramires 22’) def Valencia 0
The Blues eased the nerves early through Didier Drogba who put on a huge display to guide his side into the final 16. Drogba scored two goals and laid off the assist for Ramires’ goal as Valencia were knocked out of the Champions League.
A relieved Chelsea boss Andre Villas-Boas said: “It is a very, very good result and I am happy for the players. Guess what? We finished top of the group against all the odds. There has been a lot of criticism of our players and they gave everyone a slap in the face today.”
Genk 1 (Vossen 30’) drew with Bayer Leverkusen 1 (Derdiyok 79’)
Belgian champions Genk bowed out of the Champions League but not without another decent fight, having gone ahead through Jelle Vossen’s fine volley. Genk had chances to double their lead before Leverkusen eventually levelled through Eren Derdiyok. However the draw wasn’t enough for Leverkusen to top the group.
Leverkusen boss Robin Dutt said: “I can certainly differentiate between this match and the group stage overall. Today I was a bit annoyed with my team, but looking at our group campaign as a whole, I must compliment them. We will take the [round of 16] draw as it comes. Barcelona are not the only tough draw; APOEL have qualities as well. We can’t underestimate anyone.”
Dortmund 2 (Blaszczykowski 23’, Hummels 32’ pen) def by Olympique Marseille 3 (Remy 45’, Andre Ayew 85’, Valbuena 87’)
In the most dramatic clash of the evening where Dortmund needed to win by four goals and hope Olympiacos failed against Arsenal, the Germans raced to a two-goal lead before letting it go. Marseille needed to win in Germany and got two goals inside the final five minutes through Andre Ayew and Mathieu Valbuena’s special strike to progress.
Marseille boss Didier Deschamps said: “We totally messed up our first half and might have conceded more. Loïc [Rémy]’s goal in [first-half] added time put us back on track. If we had gone in at the break 2-0 down it would have been very difficult, but at 2-1 it was still open. Another important goal was Mathieu Valbuena’s. I endlessly repeat to the players that they must keep faith until the very end.”
Olympiacos 3 (Djebbour 16’, David Fuster 36’, Modesto 89’) def Arsenal 1 (Benayoun 57’)
It was Greek heartbreak for Olympiacos who thought they had qualified for the knockout phase at full-time only to soon learn of Marseille’s stunning two late goals. Arsenal fielded a weakened side and Olympiacos took full advantage but in the end it didn’t matter.
Olympiacos boss Ernesto Valverde said: “We did what we had to do, gave it our best and won. Arsenal didn’t give us anything for free and put up a fight. We couldn’t control what was happening in the match in Dortmund. The fact that Marseille turned around the result in the last stretch of the game only added to our disappointment.”
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FC Porto 0 drew with Zenit St Petersburg 0
The 2011 Europa League winners have been condemned to Europe’s second tier competition again after a goalless draw at home to Russian champions Zenit. Zenit keeper Vyacheslav Malafeev was the hero with a string of fine saves denying Porto.
Zenit boss Luciano Spalletti said: “From my point of view it’s not a miracle. I believe that finishing the year at the top of the league and qualifying for Champions League knockout phase was the maximum we could have achieved. The players fully deserve this, they have been doing their best for the whole year.”
APOEL 0 def by Shakhtar Donetsk 2 (Luiz Adriano 62’, Seleznev 78’)
The group winners were somewhat surprise losers 2-0 at home to group battlers Shakhtar Donetsk. Shakhtar missed a penalty in the first-half through Luiz Adriano but he made amends in the second 45 netting the opener before Evhen Seleznev sealed the points from close range.
APOEL boss Ivan Jovanovic said: “There is no such thing as a sweet defeat. We should take joy from the fact that we are through. The games in the next round will be different to the ones in the group. Our passage into the round of 16 is unprecedented and I hope it will not be the only time. When you look at our opponents tonight, who didn’t qualify, it just goes to show how incredible our achievement is.”
FC Barcelona 4 (Sergi Roberto 35’, Montoya 60’, Pedro 63’, 89’ pen) def BATE Borisov 0
An under-strength Barcelona routed Belarussian champions BATE Borisov 4-0 at Nou Camp with relative ease. Barcelona’s next generation of stars impressed including Sergi Roberto and Isaac Cuenca, while BATE bow out after a tough campaign.
Barca boss Pep Guardiola said: “Who knows what the future holds but this club has made an important effort in retaining the services of Marc Bartra, Isaac Cuenca, Sergi Roberto, Marc Muniesa and Rafa Alcántara [Rafinha]. The club will most likely depend on them and they are a real generation of players.”
Viktoria Plzen 2 (Bystron 89’, Duris 90’) drew with AC Milan 2 (Alexandre Pato 47’, Robinho 48’)
AC Milan may have already qualified but this result left their boss Max Allegri no less disappointed after they threw away a two-goal lead late on. Alexandre Pato and Robinho had combined well twice to put Milan two ahead, but David Bystron and then Michal Duris netted late to send the home crowd into raptures.
Allegri said: “We are very angry. We were 2-0 up and could have scored a third on several occasions. What makes me angry is that we played with complacency in the final minutes and gave away an easy goal to reopen the match. Then there is an obvious risk when your opponents push forward, and we conceded another. Let’s hope the lesson will be useful in the future.”