Group A : Manchester United stunned by Basel
Defeat away to FC Basel in the Champions League is not part of the plan, but it’s hardly going to prevent United from reaching the Last 16 (they would have to lose by six goals to CSKA Moscow in the final game). But there should be some concern.
The United defence has leaked a goal for the third successive match, after keeping six cleans sheets in the seven games before the leaks started to show, and they have lost three of their previous seven games.
United began like they were skinning a rabbit, holding onto 74% of the football, and hitting the woodwork through attempts by Marouane Fellaini and Marcos Rojo. Paul Pogba, wearing the captain’s armband for the night, was bossing the midfield.
And then things changed; like a snowman left standing in the thaw. FC Basel pinched the football, and not even the presence of Zlatan Ibrahimovic from the bench – becoming the first-ever player to compete in the Champions League for seven different clubs (Ajax, Juventus, Inter, Barcelona, Milan, PSG, and now United) – ignited the spark needed to see the game out.
With time running out, Michael Lang got on the end of a Raoul Petretta cross at the far post, and finished with aplomb, leaving the United forward line with no time to readdress.
In the group’s other game, Benfica looks likely to end the season without a single point after losing by 2-0 against CSKA Moscow.
Group B: PSG Batter Celtic
At the beginning of the season the bookies were wrong to make the Parisians the favourites to lift the trophy, and since then, they have won all five games, scoring 24 goals and conceding one.
Celtic have to take responsibility for this walloping.
Moussa Dembélé opened the scoring for Celtic in the first minute, and PSG saw that as such an insult, they smashed seven past them, including braces for Neymar, Edinson Cavani, and goals from Kylian Mbappé, Marco Verratti, and Dani Alves.
When you take PSG’s Ligue 1 results into account, the Champions League favourites have won 16 times, drawn 2, scored 67 goals, and conceded 10.
They make Man City look like a bunch of posers.
Joining PSG in the last 16 will be Bayern Munich, who beat Anderlecht by two goals to one thanks to goals from Robert Lewandowski, and Corentin Tolisso, either side of a Sofiane Hanni equaliser.
Group C: Chelsea Move on Top; Roma Crash in Madrid
Chelsea has qualified for the knockout stages after a comfortable 4-0 win over Qarabag in Baku.
Willian was the star, scoring twice, and he was also the man Rashad Sadygov fouled to give away a 21st-minute penalty, which Eden Hazard converted. The referee also brandished the red-card, and Chelsea adopted the female Praying Mantis role from that point on. Cesc Fabregas converted a second penalty late in the game.
Chelsea moves into pole position in the group after Roma fell to a shock defeat in the Estadio Wanda Metropolitano. Goals from Antione Griezmann and Kevin Gameiro won the game for Atletico, but it’s all come a little too late for Diego Simeone’s side, who will have to beat Chelsea, and hope Qarabag beat Roma in the final round of games, to qualify for the knockout stages.
Group D: Barcelona Qualify After Stalemate
There was a time when Barcelona used to be like PSG, banging in goals at the same frequency Starbucks Baristas send Lattes out of their drive-through window.
For the second successive game, Barcelona played out a goalless draw, but this one was worth it as the Catalan club made it through to the knockout stages with a game to spare.
In the other Group D game, Sporting beat Olympiakos 3-1, and they now have the rather simple task of travelling to the Nou Camp knowing a win, and an Olympiakos favour against Juventus, will see them qualify for the next stage. Juventus and Barcelona it is, then.
FC Basel 1 v 0 Man Utd
Sporting 3 v 1 Olympiacos
Anderlecht 1 v 2 Bayern Munich
Atletico Madrid 2 v 0 Roma
Juventus 0 v 0 Barcelona
PSG 7 v 1 Celtic
CSKA Moscow 2 v 0 Benfica
Qarabag 0 v 4 Chelsea
- Man Utd – 12
- FC Basel – 9
- CSKA Moscow – 9
- Benfica – 0
- PSG – 15
- Bayern – 12
- Celtic – 3
- Anderlecht – 0
- Chelsea – 10
- Roma – 8
- Atletico Madrid – 6
- Qarabag – 2
- Barcelona – 11
- Juventus – 8
- Sporting – 7
- Olympiacos – 1
- Liverpool – 9
- Sevilla – 8
- Spartak Moscow – 6
- Maribor – 2
- Man City – 15
- Shakhtar Donetsk – 9
- Napoli – 6
- Feyenoord – 0
- Besiktas – 11
- Porto – 7
- RB Leipzig – 7
- Monaco – 2
- Spurs – 13
- Real Madrid – 10
- Dortmund – 2
- Apoel Nicosia – 2