Chelsea Exits Champions League as Juventus, Celtic Advance
Chelsea became the first defending champion to not advance from the group stage of soccer’s Champions League as Juventus, Celtic and Galatasaray completed the field for the round of 16.
Chelsea’s 6-1 win over Nordsjaelland last night wasn’t enough to secure second place in Group E, which went to Shakhtar Donetsk on a tiebreaker after the Ukrainian team lost 1-0 to Juventus, which led the standings. The top two teams in each of the eight groups advanced to the knockout stage of Europe’s elite club competition.
“We knew that if Donetsk didn’t win then we would be out, unfortunately it is a reality,” Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech told Sky Sports. “We did what we could, we had a good performance and scored six goals.”
Celtic beat Spartak Moscow 2-1 to finish as runner-up in Group G, while Galatasaray’s 2-1 win at Braga left it second in Group H.
“It’s a monumental achievement,” Celtic manager Neil Lennon told Sky Sports. “For the whole club to be at the big table in the new year is a phenomenal effort.”
The draw for the round of 16 will be held Dec. 20 in Nyon, Switzerland, with the two-game series starting Feb. 12 and 13.
Juventus finished with 12 points, two more than Shakhtar and Chelsea, with the Ukrainian club winning the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Blues.
“With 10 points sometimes you go through but that was not to be,” Chelsea’s Gary Cahill said. “We had to do more than that.”
Chelsea and the other seven third-place finishers will now join the round of 32 in the second-tier Europa League.
Chelsea and Nordsjaelland each missed penalty kicks in the first half at Stamford Bridge in west London before David Luiz gave the Blues the lead from the penalty spot in the 38th minute. Fernando Torres made it 2-0 in first-half stoppage time.
Joshua John scored for Nordsjaelland in the opening minute of the second half before goals from Cahill, Torres, Juan Mata and Oscar completed the rout.
It was Chelsea’s first win in four games since Rafael Benitez took over last month as interim manager for the fired Roberto Di Matteo, who led the Blues to the European title in May.
An own goal from Olexandr Kucher in the 56th minute lifted Juventus to the top of the group over Shakhtar.
Kris Commons scored with a penalty kick in the 82nd minute as Celtic beat Spartak Moscow in Glasgow to reach the knockout stage for the first time since the 2007-08 season.
Needing to have a better result than Benfica to advance, Celtic took the lead on Gary Hooper’s goal in the 21st minute. Spartak tied the game in the 39th minute on a goal from Ari.
Celtic went in front when Commons fired his penalty kick in off the underside of the crossbar after Georgios Samaras was knocked over in the area by Marek Suchy.
Celtic finished with 10 points, two more than Benfica, which drew 0-0 away against a second-string Barcelona side that was already guaranteed top spot in the group.
Lionel Messi, who came on as a substitute in the second half for Barcelona, left the game on a cart in the 84th minute after colliding with Benfica goalkeeper Artur. Messi bruised the outside of his left knee and will undergo further tests, Barcelona said on its website.
Two goals in the second half from Burak Yilmaz sent Galatasaray through as Group H runner-up on the tiebreaker over Cluj, which beat first-place Manchester United 1-0 on a score from Luis Alberto in the 56th minute.
Bayern Munich and Valencia both won to finish tied in Group F with 13 points, with the German club winning the tiebreaker for top spot.
Mario Gomez, Thomas Muller, Xherdan Shaqiri and David Alaba scored as Bayern, last season’s runner-up, beat BATE Borisov 4-1, while Valencia was a 1-0 winner at Lille.
TEAMS ADVANCING TO THE CHAMPIONS LEAGUE KNOCKOUT STAGE: AC Milan, Arsenal, Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund, Celtic, Galatasaray, Juventus, Malaga, Manchester United, Paris Saint- Germain, Porto, Real Madrid, Schalke, Shakhtar Donetsk, Valencia.
TEAMS DROPPING INTO THE EUROPA LEAGUE KNOCKOUT STAGE: Ajax, BATE Borisov, Benfica, Chelsea, Cluj, Dynamo Kiev, Olympiacos, Zenit St. Petersburg.
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