CL round-up: Real Madrid see off Roma as both sides progress
Bayern Munich thrash Benfica to ease pressure on Niko Kovac
Gareth Bale celebrates scoring Real Madrid’s opener against Roma. Photograph: Tiziana Fabi/AFP/Getty
Group G: AS Roma 0 Real Madrid 2
Real Madrid found solace in the Champions League once more as a 2-0 win at Roma confirmed top spot in Group G.
The three-time reigning champions took a 47th-minute lead through Gareth Bale, who capitalised on Federico Fazio’s mistake.
That came after Cengiz Under’s woeful miss at the end of the first half and Real doubled their lead when Lucas Vazquez struck to secure top spot in the pool.
Both sides are suffering domestically. Roma lost to Udinese in Serie A last Saturday and are seventh; Real are sixth in LaLiga following a 3-0 loss to Eibar, their fifth of the season.
But both are in the knockout stages of Europe’s elite club competition. Viktoria Plzen’s earlier 2-1 win at CSKA Moscow meant both sides were through before kick-off, with top spot in Group G and a favourable last-16 seeding becoming the target.
Roma needed to beat Real by four clear goals to usurp them at the top of the pool, which was always an unlikely outcome.
Group E: Bayern Munich 5 Benfica 1
Bayern Munich’s Arjen Robben and Robert Lewandowski scored two goals each as the German champions demolished Benfica 5-1 on Tuesday to reach the Champions League last-16 and lift some of the pressure off boss Niko Kovac.
Kovac is likely to cling on to his job for at least a few more days after Bayern secured victory with their best performance so far this season.
The embattled coach’s future has been in doubt for some time with Bayern sitting in fifth place in the Bundesliga, but Robben’s double strike in the first half quickly lifted the gloom at the Allianz Arena on Tuesday.
Bayern are Group E leaders on 13 points, but will have to wait until the last matchday on December 12th at Ajax Amsterdam to see who finishes top, with the Dutch side two points behind, in second place, after a 2-0 win at AEK Athens.
Group H: Juventus 1 Valencia CF 0
Juventus clinched a place in the Champions League knockout stages when a brilliant Cristiano Ronaldo assist set up Mario Mandzukic to give them a 1-0 win over Valencia on Tuesday.
The Serie A champions had struggled to break down Valencia’s defence until Joao Cancelo slipped the ball to Ronaldo in the Valencia area in the 59th minute of the Group H clash.
Ronaldo wrong-footed Gabriel Paulista with some fancy footwork, giving him space to roll a low cross across the face of goal for Mandzukic to turn in from two metres.
Juventus top the group with 12 points from five games while Valencia, third with five points, were eliminated after second-placed Manchester United beat Young Boys 1-0.
Group F: Hoffenheim 2 Shakhtar Donetsk 3
Shakhtar Donetsk snatched a last-gasp 3-2 win at Hoffenheim on Tuesday thanks to Taison’s stoppage-time goal to keep their hopes of a top-two finish in Group F alive and send the Germans out of the competition.
Hoffenheim, who needed a win to have any hope of reaching the last 16, were stunned by a double strike early in the first half from the visitors.
Ismaily put Shakhtar ahead in the 14th minute and Taison, who had set up the first, doubled it with a fine finish.
The Germans struck back almost instantly with Andrej Kramaric cutting the deficit and then Steven Zuber levelled it up five minutes before the interval.
Swiss international Zuber then hit the woodwork in the 71st minute with the keeper beaten, but instead it was Taison who snatched a dramatic late winner to lift Shakhtar into third place on five points.
Lyon are second on seven points, with Manchester City top on 10.