Arsenal, Champions League, Liverpool, Premier League

Arsenal, Atlético And Leverkusen Into Last 16 Of Champions League

Alexis-AFCArsenal put their recent troubles behind them to beat Borussia Dortmund 2-0 at the Emirates Stadium and qualify for the knockout stages of the UEFA Champions League. Yaya Sanogo put the Gunners ahead inside two minutes, with Alexis Sanchez clipping home a sublime effort at the start of the second half to inflict a first European defeat on the Group D leaders.

Spanish champions Atletico Madrid also secured their place in the last 16 with 4-0 over Olympiacos thanks to a hat-trick from Mario Mandzukic. A fast start by last season’s beaten finalists was rewarded when Raul Garcia prodded home at the near post after an awful attempted clearance from ex-Atletico goalkeeper Roberto.

Mandzukic had suffered a broken nose when Olympiacos beat Atletico 3-2 on the opening matchday, but the Croatian had a far more enjoyable evening this time round and opened his account with a tap in after Alberto Botia failed to cut out Cristian Ansaldi’s low cross. He completed his hat-trick with two powerful headed finishes in three minutes just after the hour mark.

Victory for Juventus away to Malmo means Atletico just need to avoid defeat by two or more goals when they travel to Turin in two weeks’ time in order to top the group.

The Turin giants ended their away day blues to reignite their chances of progressing from Group A with a 2-0 win over Malmo. Defeats on the road against Atletico Madrid and Olympiacos had left Juve in third place prior to kick-off, but second-half goals from Fernando Llorente and Carlos Tevez gave the Italians a crucial win. Tevez’s strike angered Malmo, with Erik Johansson earning seeing red for dissent, while two of his team-mates were also booked amid the protests.

There was some respite for under-pressure Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers as his side ground out a 2-2 draw away to European minnows Ludogorets. The result ended a run of four straight defeats in all competitions for the five-time European champions but left them needing to beat Basel in their final Group B match in order to qualify for the last 16 of the continent’s elite club football tournament.

Liverpool fell behind in the third minute in Sofia but were leading with two minutes to go. It was anything but plain sailing as Dani Abalo put Ludogorets ahead before Rickie Lambert’s equaliser five minutes later, the England forward’s first Champions League goal, and another before half-time from Jordan Henderson steadied the visitors’ nerves.

However, the truly morale-boosting victory Liverpool craved was denied them when Georgi Terziev levelled in the 88th minute.

Cristiano Ronaldo scored his 71st Champions League goal as Real Madrid recorded a club record-equalling 15th consecutive win by beating Basel 1-0 in Switzerland. The Portuguese superstar converted a Karim Benzema cutback ten minutes before half-time at the St Jakob-Park as the reigning European champions, who had already qualified for the last 16, secured first place in Group B with a fifth win in five games.

Ronaldo’s goal allowed him to move level with former Madrid striker Raul as the tournament’s second-top scorer of all time, three behind Lionel Messi, who broke the record with a hat-trick for Barcelona against APOEL on Tuesday. And the goal secured their 15th consecutive victory in all competitions, a sequence that began with a 5-1 defeat of Basel at the Santiago Bernabeu in September. Carlo Ancelotti’s men have therefore equalled the record that was set by Miguel Munoz’s team in 1960-61 and then matched three seasons ago under Jose Mourinho.

Lucas Ocampos’ tap-in guided Monaco to a 1-0 victory at Bayer Leverkusen to blow Group C wide open. The Argentine winger latched onto Nabil Dirar’s cross to cap a fine counter-attack that allowed Monaco to frustrate the hosts, who dominated territory and possession.

Ocampos’ winning goal leaves Leverkusen top of the standings on nine points, but Monaco now only trail by one: so either side can still top the pool with one round of fixtures remaining.