Champions League round-up: High drama in Istanbul as Besiktas complete comeback

Meanhile, Atletico Madrid cruised through as group winners while Napoli still have work to do

Besiktas’ Vincent Aboubakar celebrates after scoring a late equaliser in his side’s 3-3 draw with Benfica in Istanbul. Photo: Sedat Suna/EPA

Besiktas’ Vincent Aboubakar celebrates after scoring a late equaliser in his side’s 3-3 draw with Benfica in Istanbul. Photo: Sedat Suna/EPA

 

Besiktas 3 Benfica 3

Besiktas produced a stunning comeback to keep their Champions League hopes alive with a 3-3 home draw against Benfica.

The Portuguese visitors seemed destined to secure a place in the last 16 of the competition when Goncalo Guedes, Nelson Semedo and Ljubomir Fejsa gave them a handsome three-goal lead inside 31 minutes.

But the Turkish champions produced an amazing fightback as Cenk Tosun and Ricardo Quaresma, from the penalty spot, scored before Vincent Aboubakar levelled two minutes from time.

The sides had drawn 1-1 when they met in Lisbon two months ago and Besiktas had not lost in regulation time all season, their only defeat coming to Galatasaray in the Super Cup 16 games ago.

But Benfica gave note of their attacking intent within two minutes when full-back Eliseu advanced to strike the outside of a post from 20 yards.

Besiktas, who started the evening only a point behind Group B leaders Benfica, thought they had taken the lead when Aboubakar poked the ball home after goalkeeper Ederson Moraes pushed out Quaresma’s deflected cross.

But home celebrations were cut short by a flagging assistant and Benfica struck after 10 minutes when Guedes kept his balance brilliantly to round goalkeeper Fabricio.

Benfica doubled their lead after 25 minutes with Semedo sending a 25-yard shot in the net off the underside of the crossbar.

And six minutes later it got even better for Benfica as they extended their lead in bizarre fashion.

Konstantinos Mitroglou headed twice against the crossbar before Eduardo Salvio did likewise against the post.

But it was fourth time lucky for Benfica as Fejsa followed up to sweep home the rebound, the first time Besiktas had conceded three times at their Vodafone Arena home.

Mitroglou should have put the game beyond Besiktas when he fired wide with only Fabricio to beat.

The miss proved decisive as Tosun struck with a spectacular 58th-minute scissor kick, and then Quaresma scored from the spot seven minutes from time after Victor Nilsson-Lindelof had needlessly handled.

It set up a grandstand finish and Quaresma audaciously crossed with a ‘rabona’ for Aboubakar to finish from close range.

Atletico Madrid 2 PSV Eindhoven 0

Atletico Madrid sealed top spot in Champions League after second half goals from Frenchmen Kevin Gameiro and Antoine Griezmann gave them a comfortable 2-0 win at home to PSV Eindhoven.

Gameiro broke the deadlock in the 55th minute with an arrowed first-time finish and Griezmann clinched Atletico‘s fifth win in five Champions League games with a near post finish in the 66th.

Diego Simeone‘s side are the only team in the competition with a 100 percent record in the group stages.

Atletico top Group D with 15 points, six clear of Bayern Munich, who visit them in a fortnight‘s time in a game that will have no bearing on the final standings. Rostov are third on four points after beating Bayern 3-2, while PSV are bottom with one.

Hurting from their 3-0 defeat to local rivals Real Madrid on Saturday, Atletico made a strong start.

Yannick Carrasco tore down the right hand side in the seventh minute and his cross found Gameiro, who failed to connect properly with the ball and missed the target, while Diego Godin headed straight at PSV goalkeeper Jeroen Zoet.

PSV defender Jetro Willems, who had made an excellent last ditch challenge to thwart Gameiro, required medical attention following a collision of heads with Zoet and was withdrawn by PSV coach Phillip Cocu at halftime.

Atletico took charge early in the second half, Griezmann releasing Gameiro on the right hand side of the box and the former Sevilla man catching Zoet by surprise with a first time strike into the far corner.

The second goal owed a lot to some aggressive pressing from Tiago Mendes in the final third, the Portuguese playing in Griezmann after swiping the ball from an opponent and enabling the Frenchman to slide in and knock the ball home at Zoet‘s near post.

Griezmann nearly teed up Gameiro for the third but the 29-year-old‘s header deflected off Zoet and onto the post.

Napoli 0 Dynamo Kiev 0

Napoli failed to open up a lead at the top of Group B as Dynamo Kiev held them to a goalless draw at the Stadio San Paolo.

The Italians had the benefit of knowing Besiktas and Benfica had shared the spoils in Istanbul earlier, the Turkish champions incredibly fighting back from 3-0 down to draw 3-3.

But Napoli could not break down stubborn Kiev opponents who had lost three of their previous four games and were on their way out of Europe.

Napoli did fashion late chances once substitute Manolo Gabbiadini was thrown into the fray, but there was almost a calamity at the other end when Pepe Reina dropped a cross and relied on his defenders to spare his blushes.

The draw leaves Napoli tied on eight points with Benfica and the sides will meet in the final round of fixtures in Lisbon on December 6. Besiktas are a point further back with their final game away in Kiev.

Napoli started with purpose and Dries Mertens was keen to get behind a Kiev defence which gambled on keeping a high line.

But the final pass kept going awry and the absence of Poland striker Arkadiusz Milik, who sustained a knee injury while on international duty last month, hurt them.

Kiev were content to frustrate and offered few attacking ideas, although Artem Besedin almost profited from Andriy Yarmolenko’s near post cross.

Napoli’s promising start was fading fast when Mertens gave Lorenzo Insigne a clear run on goal, but the striker embarrassingly fell over his own feet as defenders furiously back-pedalled.

Marek Hamsik did finally force a save from Artur Rudko but it was no more than a routine stop and Kiev were increasingly comfortable as the first half came to a close.

There was a slight improvement from Napoli after the break with Hamsik’s header looping just beyond the far post and Insigne firing straight at Rudko.

The Kiev goalkeeper finally made a genuine save when he pushed aside a powerful effort from Hamsik, but the Napoli players were greeted by a chorus of boos at the final whistle.

Ludogorets 0 Basel 0

Ludogorets and Basle’s battle to get out of the Champions League basement and into the Europa League will go to the sixth matchday after the teams could not be separated in Bulgaria.

The Swiss champions remain joint bottom with Ludogorets in Group A having only managed to take a single point — against the same opposition, in September — in this edition of the group stages.

This stalemate in Razgrad, which really ought to have swung in the visitors’ favour given the industry of Luca Zuffi and Matias Delgado, leaves the route to continental football open to undeserving rivals.

Since reaching the last 16 two seasons ago Basle have struggled to make a dent in Europe’s premier club competition and the best they can achieve this time around is a third-placed finish in their pool.

That does bring a run at the Europa League, though, so the Swiss Super League side set about their hosts with an obvious air of knowing they still have something to play for.

Zuffi got home goalkeeper Vladislav Stoyanov working before Mohamed Elyounoussi took aim from distance and, after the Norwegian missed the mark, Delgado’s sighter was blocked.

On the half-hour mark Delgado went closer, clattering the crossbar from a free-kick.

Ludogorets had absorbed the early pressure and seized their moment to bite back, Natanael setting up fellow Brazilian Cicinho for a solid effort that Cosmin Moti inadvertently deflected away.

An exchange of efforts before the break saw Zuffi come closest as Stoyanov got down to make a desperate parry, while Birkir Bjarnason was Basle’s hero with a brave clearance on Jonathan Cafu.

The Iceland international was involved at the other end when play resumed, his shot from 12 yards fizzing wide, while Claudiu Keseru answered back with a wayward missile that veered left.

Sloppiness took hold until Elyounoussi managed to cut through the pack in the 76th minute and draw another impressive save from Stoyanov.

As Basle’s desperation grew they threw bodies forward with Delgado forcing a block from Svetoslav Dyakov and the under-siege Stoyanov punching yet another Zuffi attempt to safety.

Try as they might, the Swiss could not get the ball over the line, but with Ludogorets visiting Paris St Germain on the final day, Basle will perhaps prefer their chances of getting something from Arsenal.

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