Messi sends Barca through; Chelsea in deep trouble
Messi sends Barca through; Chelsea in deep trouble
Valencia and last season’s runners-up Bayern Munich advanced from Group F with a 1-1 draw in the Mestalla while free-scoring Shakhtar Donetsk beat Nordsjaelland 5-2 with a controversial Luiz Adriano hat-trick smoothing their progress from Group E.
The Brazilian seemed unaware that his team mate Willian was playing the ball back to the Danish side’s keeper following an injury and pounced to score his first goal sparking jeers and whistles from the crowd and angering the incredulous home side.
Messi’s brace for Barca took his tally in Europe’s flagship club competition to 56, equal second on the all-time scorers’ list with Dutchman Ruud van Nistelrooy, as the Catalans guaranteed top spot in Group G.
Juventus are favorites to join Shakhtar in the last 16 after a 3-0 defeat of Chelsea to move second in Group E.
A draw for the Italians in Ukraine in a fortnight would mean Chelsea having the dubious distinction of becoming the first defending champions to exit at the group stage.
Fabio Quagliarella gave Juventus a 38th minute lead with a deflected shot and Arturo Vidal’s second half effort was also diverted past Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech on the hour.
Sebastian Giovinco rounded off a dazzling performance from Juventus with a breakaway third in stoppage time.
“We said before the game that we have our destiny in our hands, not any more,” Chelsea keeper Petr Cech said.
“Now we need to do our bit, we need to win our last game and hope our fate is kind. Being realistic Juventus played very well and they need just a point and Shakhtar are already through.
“It’s a very sad moment.”
Chelsea coach Roberto Di Matteo left striker Fernando Torres out of the starting lineup but his plan backfired, leaving further question marks about his future after his side’s slump in form over recent weeks.
“In a big club like this if you have a few bad results you’re always going to be under pressure, I knew that from day one,” the Italian told Sky Sports.
Shakhtar trailed twice against Nordsjaelland and although their victory was ultimately comfortable it was also thick with controversy as their first goal left the home side fuming.
Willian had sportingly played the ball back to Nordsjaelland’s goalkeeper after a break in play to treat Morten Nordstrand but Adriano, seemingly unaware of his team mate’s sense of fair play, nipped in to equalize.
“Their attacker didn’t get it,” Nordsjaelland captain Nicolai Stokholm told reporters.
“I looked down at my armband, and there’s something about respect — it has to be said we didn’t see much of that.”
After their shock defeat at Celtic, Barcelona rediscovered their verve with a comfortable victory as Spartak’s artificial surface proved perfect for their passing game.
Messi scored his 79th and 80th goals of 2012 in the first half and is closing in on Gerd Mueller’s calendar year record of 85 set in 1975. Dani Alves had opened the scoring for Barca.
“We couldn’t allow what happened at Celtic to happen again,” Messi told Spanish TV.
While Barca have an unassailable 12 points, the runners-up spot is in the balance after Benfica beat Celtic 2-1, meaning they both have seven points with one game left.
Scottish champions Celtic were 20 minutes away from the score draw that would have put them through along with the Spaniards before Argentine Ezequiel Garay struck the winner on a night of torrential rain in Lisbon.
Celtic host Spartak in their final group game knowing they will have to better Benfica’s result against Barcelona.
Valencia were already certain of a last 16 place before they even kicked off against Bayern Munich after BATE Borisov’s 2-0 loss to Lille in an earlier kickoff.
Thomas Mueller’s late equalizer for Bayern then spared the German club a nervy final night in the group stage as a draw was enough to put them out of reach of BATE.
Valencia played two thirds of the match with 10 men after Antonio Barragan was sent off for a wild tackle on David Alaba in the 33rd minute.
“If you play with an extra man for an hour and have to be content with a 1-1 draw it’s not satisfactory,” Bayern chief Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said on the club’s website (www.fcbayern.telekom.de).
“We have to put our foot on the gas again.”
Galatasaray kept alive their chances of reaching the knockout phase with a 1-0 victory over already-qualified Manchester United.
They are vying with CFR Cluj for the runners-up spot in Group H after the Romanians beat Braga 3-1 with a first-half hat-trick from Rui Pedro doing the damage.
Al-Hilal land Saudi Arabia volleyball treble by winning Elite Championship
- Riyadh club beat Al-Ahli by six sets to nil over two legs
- Title adds to the Saudi League and Saudi Cup
Al-Hilal confirmed themselves as the dominant volleyball side in the Kingdom by winning their third title of a hugely successful season on Monday.
The team beat Al-Ahli, their big rivals, by three sets to nil in the second leg of the final round of the Elite Championship at the arena of the General Sports Authority in Riyadh. Al-Hilal also whitewashed Al-Ahli in the first leg, confirming their superiority.
Chairman of the Saudi Volleyball Federation, Dr. Ibrahim Al-Babtain, was present as Waldo Kantor’s side added the title to the Saudi League crown and the Saudi Cup they won earlier this year. It was further celebration for the Riyadh-based club as the football team won the Saudi Pro League title on the final day of the season, pipping Al-Ahli to the title by a point.
The victorious Al-Hilal basketball team included Ahmad Al-Bekhayet, Khalil Hajji, Muwaffaq Al-Motairi, Hassan Al-Wathlan, Abdulaziz Al-Harbi, Fahad Masoud, Abdullah Al-Zahrani, Abdulrahman Al-Dawsari, Nawaf Al-Bekhayet, Mohammad Bakr, Raidel Poey and Hiroshi Centelles.
The team are coached by Kantor who represented Argentina at the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles and the 1988 Olympics in Seoul. He has been in charge of Al-Hilal since September after coaching spells in Italy, Spain, Brazil, Colombia, and Argentina.