LONDON, 25 November 2004 — Manchester United and Bayern Munich advanced to the first knockout round of the Champions League while Raul scored an historic goal for Real Madrid to save his side from a home defeat yesterday.
Manchester United beat Olympique Lyon 2-1 at Old Trafford to give manager Alex Ferguson a winning night to remember in his 1,000th match in charge of the club.
Both teams have qualified from Group D with Fenerbahce’s 1-0 win at Sparta Prague in the same group sealing their consolation spot in the UEFA Cup.
United went ahead after 19 minutes at Old Trafford when defender Gary Neville ended a scramble in the Lyon goalmouth with a crashing drive into the net.
Lyon replied when Mahamadou Diarra’s long-range shot was fumbled by keeper Roy Carroll five minutes before the break.
But Ferguson’s side sealed the win after 53 minutes when Ruud van Nistelrooy headed home his 36th Champions League goal for United. In all the Dutchman has now scored 45 Champions League goals — nine for PSV Eindhoven earlier in his career — taking him just one behind third-placed Eusebio (46 goals in 65 matches for Benfica) in the all-time list of scorers.
In Madrid, Raul pulled level with Real legend Alfredo Di Stefano in first place in the all-time list when he equalized in the 70th minute of their Group B match against Bayer Leverkusen.
It has taken Raul 94 games to achieve his total — Di Stefano did it in 58 games between 1955 and 1964 — and the current Real favorite could well have more than one match to break the record this season after Tuesday’s draw.
With Dynamo Kiev beating AS Roma 2-0 at home in wintry Kiev in the same group, they have moved on to 10 points from five games. Real and Leverkusen have eight points with AS Roma eliminated from Europe this season on one. The outcome of the group all depends on the last round of games in which Leverkusen host Dynamo on Dec. 8, the same night Real travel to Rome.
If Real win they will go through on 11 points because either Kiev or Leverkusen are certain to finish with fewer points. Bayern Munich have no need take UEFA’s course in mathematical theory to know they have advanced already.
Their 5-1 win over Maccabi Tel Aviv means they are through to the last 16 as Group C runners-up behind Juventus.
Juve chalked up their fifth successive 1-0 win in the group over Ajax Amsterdam in front of just 6,865 fans in Turin leaving Ajax and Maccabi, who are both on three points, scrambling for the UEFA Cup spot. Ajax are at home to Bayern in their last match, while Maccabi host Juventus. If they both finish with the same number of points Ajax will go into the UEFA Cup as they have a better head-to-head record against Maccabi. Group A is still to be settled after Olympiakos beat Deportivo Coruna 1-0 and AS Monaco beat Liverpool 1-0. Depor, semifinalists last season, are out of European competition this season but Olympiakos (10 points), Monaco (9) and Liverpool (7) are all in contention for the knockout phase.
Liverpool play Olympiakos at home in their last match while Monaco are at Deportivo. If Liverpool beat Olympiakos 1-0 they will go through, while Monaco need to beat Depor to finish above Olympiakos on points.
If Monaco draw and Olympiakos lose, the Greeks would advance as they have a better head-to-head record against the French side.
Groups E-H are being played on Wednesday when as many as seven more teams could join United, Bayern Munich, Juventus, Chelsea, Inter Milan and Lyon in the next phase. But if Tuesday is anything to go by, far fewer places will be decided leaving everyone involved to get their calculators out again.