A very dramatic finish to the group of death, as Napoli beat Arsenal to finish as the third team with 12 points, but not by enough goals, as Borussia Dortmund beating Marseille with a very late goal that put them on top of the group. Milan barely made it through, joining a very dominant Barcelona (with a Neymar hat trick) that crushed Celtic thanks to a 10-men draw at home against Ajax.
Schalke joined Chelsea (first place in the group) with an expected home win against Basel, while Atletico Madrid finished the group stage undefeated after yet another win over FC Porto, helping Zenit qualify with them despite losing in Austria.
It took a bit longer than it should have, but the two teams expected to finish first in the group end up in the next round. Schalke beat Basel 2-0 in the more interesting match of the evening with goals from Julian Draxer and Juan Matip early in the second half, as Basel finished the match in 10 men. Chelsea beat Steaua 1-0 with an early goal from Demba Ba.
Drama through and through as expected in the group of death. Arsenal lost in Napoli 2-0, also seeing a red card handed out to Mikel Arteta. Gonzalo Higuain and Jose Callejon scored for Napoli, but it wasn’t enough, needing another goal. Dortmund were saved in the final moments against Marseille, winning 2-1 thanks to the 87th minute goal from Kevin Grosskreutz.
Austria Wien stunned everyone with a 4-1 win over Zenit (Philipp Hosiner twice, Tomas Jun and Roman Kienast) despite the Russians scoring first through Kerzhakov, but Zenit still go through because Porto lost 2-0 to Atletico Madrid, with goals from Raul Garcia and the red hot Diego Costa.
|Zenit Saint Petersburg||6||1||3||2||5||9||−4||6|
Ajax had an amazing chance to win against Milan at the San Siro, with the home side playing without Ricardo Montolivo (sent off) after 22 minutes, but a 0-0 draw meant the Rossoneri join Barcelona in the next stage, as Barca destroyed Celtic 6-1. Neymar scored a hat trick, while Gerard Pique, Cristian Tello and Pedro scored as well.
Teams in the Knockout Stage
First Place – Manchester United, Real Madrid, PSG, Bayern Munich, Chelsea, Dortmund, Atletico Madrid, Barcelona.
Second Place – Leverkusen, Galatasaray, Olympiacos, Manchester City, Schalke, Arsenal, Zenit, Milan.
Teams in the Europa League
Shakhtar, Juventus, Benfica, Viktoria Plzen, FC Basel, Napoli, FC Porto, Ajax.