• Champions League round-up

Chelsea on verge of exit, Celtic face tense finale

ESPN staff
November 20, 2012
Chelsea are in real trouble in the Champions League after defeat to Juventus © PA Photos

Holders Chelsea are on the verge of an early Champions League elimination after they were beaten by Juventus on Tuesday, while Celtic's fate is also out of their hands after tasting defeat against Benfica.

Elsewhere Manchester United, already safely into the last 16 of the competition, played a youthful side in defeat against Galatasaray - on a night where Barcelona, Valencia, Bayern Munich and Shakhtar Donetsk also qualified for the knockout stages.

Champions League table & results

A victory in the final group game against FC Nordsjaelland may still not be good enough for defending champions Chelsea to go through, after they lost 3-0 against Juventus.

The Blues are now two points behind the Italian side going into the final game, with a draw against Shakhtar - safely through after a 5-2 win over Nordsjaelland - good enough for the Turin club to seal the second qualification berth in Group E.

Goals from Fabio Quagliarella, Arturo Vidal and Sebastian Giovinco condemned the Blues to their unwelcome position, on a night where the changes Roberto Di Matteo promised failed to bring an immediate reward.

The Italian left Fernando Torres on the bench and started with a five-man backline, a move that initially looked promising as Eden Hazard, Juan Mata and Oscar - interchanging at the front - found space going forward.

But the course of the match was changed by a piece of opportunism by Quagliarella - who re-directed Andrea Pirlo's long range shot past a wrong-footed Petr Cech to open the scoring shortly before half-time.

Midway through the second half Juventus had a deserved second, as Vidal's driven shot deflected through Cech's legs off the unfortunate Ramires. The Blues never really looked like getting back into the game after that, despite the introduction of both Victor Moses and Torres, and a final goal from Giovinco - beating the onrushing Cech to a long through ball and sliding the ball under him - in the closing minutes added emphasis to the final scoreline.

In the other game in the group, Shakhtar romped to victory against Nordsjaelland - with Luiz Adriano scoring a hat-trick and Willian chipping in with the other two. The win sent the Ukrainian side through, with Chelsea now left to hope it does not lead to them taking their foot off the gas in the final game against Juve.

Giorgios Samaras's header was not enough for Celtic © PA Photos

Celtic missed out on the opportunity to book their place in the next phase of the competition after succumbing to a 2-1 defeat against Benfica.

Giorgios Samaras's header on the half-hour mark cancelled out Ola John's opener and provisionally ensured the Hoops had one foot in the next round - but Ezequiel Garay struck with 20 minutes remaining to leave both sides on seven points with one game remaining.

Benfica, crucially, now hold the advantage on head-to-head record - meaning the Scottish side must surpass the Portuguese club's result to progress.

In the other game in the group, Lionel Messi moved to within five goals of Gerd Muller's scoring record as Barcelona qualified for the knockout stages with a 3-0 victory over Spartak Moscow.

The Argentinian scored twice to go to 80 goals so far in 2012, just five behind Muller's record number of goals scored in a calendar year from 1972. Dani Alves gave Barcelona the lead before Messi's double strike with all the goals coming before half-time.

Manchester United got burned once more on their return to 'Hell' as Galatasaray ended their 100% record in Group H.

Burak Yilmaz's second-half goal was enough to give the Turkish side a deserved victory and take them to the brink of qualification for the knockout stage. United's position in the last 16 was already confirmed so the damage, beyond any sustained as a result of the ear-splitting din, cannot be compared to the tumult that unfolded on United's first meeting with Galatasaray in Istanbul 19 years ago.

Indeed, for untested youngsters such as Nick Powell - who became United's second youngest Champions League player, behind Kieran Richardson - it may prove to be a very valuable part of their footballing education.

Galatasaray sent Manchester United to their first defeat © PA Photos

In Group H's other match, a first-half Rui Pedro hat-trick fired CFR Cluj closer to a first appearance in the knockout stage following a comfortable 3-1 win over 10-man Braga. The Portuguese striker ended the qualifying hopes of his countrymen during a scintillating opening first half in which the beleaguered visitors also had Douglao sent off.

In one of the day's two earlier kick-offs, Lille recorded their first win of a demoralising Champions League campaign with a 2-0 success at BATE Borisov.

The Ligue 1 side had not taken a single point from their first four matches and had a negative goal difference of 12 going into the clash against Belorussian champions, but they scored twice in the first half through Djibril Sidibe and Gianni Bruno and held on without conceding - despite Sidibe being sent off with 15 minutes remaining.

That meant a subsequent draw between Valencia and Bayern Munich would send both sides through - and that result duly materialised as Thomas Muller cancelled out Soufiane Feghouli's 77nd minute opener.

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