Celtic's fate in the balance


Champions League review: Celtic will have to better Benfica’s result in the final round of the Champions League group stages in a fortnight’s time after the Portuguese side brought the Glasgow outfit back down to earth with a bump this evening.

After Barcelona’s 3-0 win against Spartak Moscow earlier this evening, Neil Lennon’s side needed a score draw in the Estadio de Luz to follow the Catalan club into the knockout stages. However, Celtic came nowhere near the heroics they produced to beat Barcelona 2-1, losing by the same score tonight.

A sloppy start was punished in the seventh minute when Ola John sent the homeside in front with a crisp strike. Giorgios Samaras headed a 31st minute equaliser from a Charlie Mulgrew corner but Ezequiel Garay struck back for the Portuguese side with 20 minutes to go.

With Benfica now holding a better head-to-head record, after opening Group G with a 0-0 draw in Glasgow, Celtic must come away with more than their rivals from their final tie. The comfort is that Benfica must travel to Barcelona, while Lennon’s men will host bottom side Spartak.

Lionel Messi moved to within five goals of Gerd Muller’s scoring record when Barcelonamoved into the last 16 in Moscow. The Russians were outclassed by Barca as the Argentinian scored twice to move 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 pushed Barcelona into a three-goal lead by halftime.

Chelsealost 3-0 against Juventusin Turin and now need results to go their way in two weeks' time if they are to avoid becoming the first title-holders to exit the Champions League after the group stages.

Fabio Quagliarella broke the deadlock with a fortuitous goal seven minutes before halftime and Arturo Vidal capped another dynamic performance by side-footing the second just after the hour thanks to another deflection. Substitute Sebastian Giovinco struck in stoppage time.

With Shakhtar Donetskqualifying with a 5-2 win at Nordsjaellandin the other Group E match, Juventus need only a point to go through when they visit the Ukrainian champions in their final game next month.

Chelsea's only hope is to beat Nordsjaelland and hope Shakhtar defeat the Serie A champions.

Shakhtar's win was steeped in controversy. A hat-trick by Luiz Adriano helped them to victory but his first, after Morten Nordstrand opened the scoring for Njordsjaelland, came when he intercepted his own team-mate's pass to the home goalkeeper following a drop-ball. There were jeers and whistles from the home crowd but the goal stood.

Kasper Lorentzen put Nordsjaelland back in front when he turned and rifled home minutes later, but a brilliant brace by Willian either side of halftime and two more by Adriano saw the Danish champions routed in the end.

Manchester Unitedgot burned once more on their return to 'Hell' as Galatasarayended their 100 per cent record in Champions League Group H, but Alex Ferguson's side were already guaranteed top spot 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.

Rui Pedro tore apart 10-man Bragawith a hat-trick in 26 minutes as CFR Clujkept alive their hopes of beating Galatasaray to the knockout stages with a 3-1 win. Cluj, who secured their first points at home in Group H after playing without a genuine centre forward, now have seven points, the same as the Turkish side.

The Romanians visit United in their final group match on December 5th, knowing only a win combined with a draw or a loss for Galatasaray at Braga would secure second place for them.

Bayern Munichjoined Group F rivals Valenciain the last 16 after the 2001 finalists played out an entertaining 1-1 draw at the Mestalla.

Lille's2-0 win at BATE Borisovin the earlier kickoff had put the Spanish club through to the knockout stage and Bayern, last year's runners-up, also progressed despite failing to make their numerical advantage count against 10-man Valencia.

The hosts had right back Antonio Barragan sent off for a wild tackle on David Alaba in the 33rd minute but, roared on by their fans, produced a battling performance to thwart the side that beat them on penalties in the final in Milan 11 years ago.

Sofiane Feghouli's deflected shot put Valencia ahead against the run of play in the 77th before Thomas Mueller levelled with a scuffed effort five minutes later.

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