It was an unconvincing performance by Real Madrid who beat Paris Saint-Germain 1-0 on Tuesday at the Santiago Bernabéu. With the win, Real surpassed Barcelona’s record of 19 consecutive matches without a loss in the Champions League groups stages.
Nacho’s goal in the 35th minute proved to be the game’s lone goal, but Laurent Blanc will head back to Paris wondering how his side did not win this match as Cavani should have scored two, Zlatan was inches away, and Di Maria hit the bar.
While Rafa Benitez will point to another win and clean sheet, the fact is that without Benzema and Bale, Los Blancos attack never really troubled the French champions all night.
Real qualified from Group A thanks to Shakhtar Donetsk romping to a 4-0 win over Malmo, a result which means a win for PSG in either of their last two matches will ensure they join Real in the last 16.
Manchester City banished memories of their recent Champions League struggles as a brilliant 3-1 win in Seville qualified them for the last 16 with two games to spare in Group D. Borussia Monchengladbach’s failure to beat Juventus in Germany, where the sides played out a 1-1 draw, meant City, who now top the group, have made it to the knock-out stages for only the third time.
Raheem Sterling set them on their way with a goal after eight minutes while Fernandinho doubled the advantage three minutes later. Frenchman Benoit Tremoulinas gave the Spanish hosts hope but Wilfried Bony’s crisp low finish nine minutes from the break effectively killed the contest, giving City a third straight Group D victory since losing 2-1 at home to Juve in their opening game.
In Germany Fabian Johnson gave Borussia the lead on 18 minutes but Stephan Lichtsteiner marked his return from minor heart surgery with the equaliser a minute before the break to restore parity. Juve held on for the final 35 minutes with ten men after Hernanes was dismissed for a late tackle on Alvaro Dominguez, meaning the Italians need only two more points to go through.
City’s neighbours United once again struggled in front of goal, with the Stratford End deafening with its chants of “we’re Man United, we want to attack.”
Under-pressure captain Wayne Rooney was the one who finally broke the club’s scoring drought, as his header sealed the 1-0 victory and put the Red Devils in control of Group B. PSV Eindhoven’s 2-0 win at home to Wolfsburg means United lead those two by a point but a victory over the Dutch outfit at Old Trafford in three weeks time will book the three-time winners’ place in the last 16.
Benfica are close to qualifying from Group C after beating Galatasaray 2-1 in Lisbon while Atletico Madrid were held 0-0 by Astana in Kazakhstan, although the Spaniards are second and three points ahead of Gala.