Celtic march on to last 16


Champions League review:A Kris Commons penalty secured a place in the last 16 of the Champions League for Celtic in dramatic fashion against Spartak Moscow in Glasgow this evening, but Chelsea suffered the ignominy of becoming the first defending champions to bow out at the group stages, despite a 6-1 win over Nordsjaelland at Stamford Bridge.

It was a nervous performance from the hosts, who took the lead through Gary Hooper in the 21st minute, but surrendered it when Ari chipped a delightful finish over Fraser Forster four minute before the break.

Celtic needed to better Benfica’s result against Group G winners Barcelona. The Portuguese side could only manage a draw at the Camp Nou, meaning Commons’s thunderous penalty, smashed in off the underside of the crossbar with just eight minute remaining saw them through to the knockout stages with 10 points.

“It's a great night,” said Giorgios Samaras, who won the 82nd minute penalty, afterwards. “Not just for us and the manger, but for the people, the supporters of the club.

“I think over the six games we deserved to go through.”

Asked if the players were aware of goings on in the Catalan capital, he told RTE: “We didn't have clue, we were playing our game, we tried to play the game and we did. We know it is difficult to go to Barca and win, so we tried to win the game and we did.

The Greek insisted the spot-kick was the correct decision. “From the moment the ref gave it, it’s finished. There was contact, so I think it's a penalty, it’s the correct decision.”

Chelsea's demolition of Nordsjaellandwas too little too late, as Juventus's 1-0 away win at Shakhtar Donetskcondemned the London club to third place in Group E.

Rafael Benitez's side at least finished on a high as Fernando Torres scored twice to give the Spanish manager his first taste of victory since replacing Roberto Di Matteo.

Both sides had missed a penalty before David Luiz showed how to do it in from the spot in the 38th minute and Torres made it 2-0 on the stroke of halftime.

Joshua John scored for Nordsjaelland immediately after halftime but Gary Cahill with a header, Torres again and Juan Mata with a close-range effort wrapped up the victory just past the hour.

Oscar ran through to make it 6-1 but the final 25 minutes of Chelsea's Champions League campaign resembled a friendly as news filtered through from Ukraine, where Olexander Kucher's 56th minute own-goal saw Juve take top spot and Shakhtar progress on a better head-to-head record with the Londoners.

Second-half goals from Galatasaray's in-form striker Burak Yilmaz and substitute Aydin Yilmaz cancelled out Braga's opener in a memorable 2-1 comeback win that sent the Turkish Champions through to the Champions League knockout phase for the first time in a decade.

Galatasaray were second in Group H before the match, with the same points as CFR Clujbut ahead on goal difference. They needed to achieve a result that at least matched the Romanians' at Manchester Unitedto reach the last 16.

Cluj won 1-0 at group winners United but the Turkish side matched them by muscling out a late win on a cold evening at Braga's "quarry" stadium.

After several wasted chances Braga scored the opener through Brazilian attacking midfielder Mossoro within the half-an-hour.

In the second half Galatasaray reacted, equalising through Burak Yilmaz after 58 minutes before Aydin Yilmaz pounced for the late winner.

Manchester United warmed up for Sunday’s crucial derby clash with City by going behind for an incredible 15th time this season.

And tonight there was no comeback either as Romanian champions CFR Cluj held on to condemn Alex Ferguson to his 39th defeat in his 200th European Cup match as United boss, and his third in United’s past five European home games.

If there was any meagre consolation at least the winner was not the result of shambolic defending, although Luis Alberto’s magnificent second-half strike still was not enough for Cluj to join United in the last 16 and they were demoted to the Europa League ahead of Braga.

A first-half penalty by Jonas was enough for Valenciato win 1-0 at already-eliminated Lillebut the Spanish side had to settle for second in Champions League Group F. Jonas converted a penalty nine minutes from the interval as Valencia finished on 13 points, level with Bayern Munichbut behind the German team because of a worse head-to-head record.

Lille finished bottom with three points, three adrift of Europa League-bound BATE Borisov, who were comfortably beaten by Bayern.

Xherdan Shaqiri, given his first Champions League start for the German side, scored one and set up another to help last season's runners-up to 4-1 victory.

Mario Gomez, starting a match in the competition for the first time this season after injury, Thomas Mueller and David Alaba scored the others as Bayern avenged their 3-1 defeat away to the Belarus champions.

Both teams finished with 10 men. Bayern's Jerome Boateng was shown a straight red card for a dangerous studs-up challenge on Artem Kontsevoi in the 50th minute and BATE's Denis Polyakov was given a second yellow for diving.

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