Champions League: Dortmund draws Real Madrid to win group; Porto, Sevilla through
- Borussia Dortmund came from 2-0 down to force a draw and win Group F, while Porto and Sevilla also cemented their last-16 berths on the final day of the group stage.
Borussia Dortmund came back from a 2-0 deficit at Real Madrid to salvage a draw and win the group on the final day of the Champions League group stage.
In other results of importance, Sevilla confirmed its place in the last 16 of the Champions League with a goalless draw at Lyon, and Porto made sure of its place in the knockouts by inflicting a first Champions League defeat on Leicester City in emphatic fashion.
As for the lesser issues to be decided, Tottenham came back to beat CSKA Moscow 3-1 to confirm its place in the Europa League as a third-place finisher, while Legia Warsaw surprisingly pipped Sporting Lisbon to qualification for the secondary competition, this despite a -15 goal differential.
Sevilla only had to avoid defeat by two or more goals at Lyon and achieved that comfortably enough, putting an end to its three-year reign over the Europa League. Juventus, meanwhile, was already assured of the top spot in Group H and beat Dinamo Zagreb 2-0 thanks to a sharp finish from Gonzalo Higuain and a header from Daniele Rugani.
In Group G, Andre Silva scored twice as Porto hammered troubled Leicester City 5-0, while Copenhagen, which beat Club Brugge 2-0, finished third.
In Group E, it looked as though Tottenham’s Wembley jinx was striking again when Alan Dzagoev seized on a Zoran Tosic knockdown to score after 33 minutes with CSKA Moscow’s first attack. But five minutes later Dele Alli took down a Christian Eriksen cross and finished calmly. Harry Kane turned in a Danny Rose cross just before halftime and Alli added a third with the help of some eccentric goalkeeping from Igor Akinfeev to send Tottenham to the Europa League.
In the other game in the group, Bayer Leverkusen, already guaranteed second, beat a youthful Monaco, which was already secure in the top spot, 3-0. Vladen Yurchenko’s brilliant strike had Leverkusen ahead by halftime, and Julian Brandt poked a second just after the break. Leverkusen had already missed four penalties this season, and Wendell added to that tally, his kicking hitting the bar and bouncing in off the goalkeeper Morgan De Sanctis.
In the marquee match of the day in Group F, Karim Benzema scored twice to take his Champions league tally to 50 as Real Madrid went 2-0 up against Dortmund with group seeding at stake. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang pulled one back just after the hour, though, and he then laid on a late equalizer for Marco Reus in the 88th after a rapid counterattack. That took Dortmund to a record 21 goals in the group stage and secured its place in first. Real Madrid did manage to extend its unbeaten streak to 34 games with the draw, though.
In the battle on the lower half of the group, Brazilian midfielder Guilherme turned in Miroslav Radovic’s cross as Legia Warsaw pulled off a shock 1-0 win over Sporting, who had William Carvalho sent off for a second yellow.
|Group E||Group F||Group G||Group H|
|Monaco||Borussia Dortmund||Leicester City||Juventus|
|Bayer Leverkusen||Real Madrid||Porto||Sevilla|
|CSKA Moscow||Sporting Lisbon||Club Brugge||Dinamo Zagreb|
*Top two advance to the knockout stage. Third-place finishers go to Europa League round of 32.
Here's what else stood out on the final day of the Champions League group stage:
Player of the day: Christian Eriksen, Tottenham
Tottenham has had numerous problems as it has sought to live up to the promise of last season, but perhaps the greatest has been the loss of form of Christian Eriksen. The Denmark forward looked back to his best Wednesday, though, buzzing across the width of the pitch, setting up the first goal, and playing in Danny Rose to cross for the second.
Goal of the day: Vladen Yurchenko, Bayer Leverkusen
This was only Vladen Yurchenko’s third game in the Champions League, but the 22-year-old Ukrainian, who had only scored once before for Bayer Leverkusen, struck a stunning goal to open his European account. Wendell played it inside to Yurchenko, who drifted infield and, taking advantage of the space his was afforded, whipped a 30-yard shot beyond the dive of Morgan De Sanctis and into the top corner.
Group clarity in the fog
If Lyon were to take the second qualifying slot in Group H and send Sevilla back into the Europa League, it needed to beat Jorge Sampaoli’s side by two goals. The result was an open and engaging game in foggy conditions by the Rhone. Sevilla’s Vitolo hit the post with a one-on-one and Lyon’s Corentin Tolisso saw his downward header bounced up and hit the bar within the first half hour. Mathieu Valbuena also clipped the woodwork before halftime, but Sevilla had greater control in the second half and came away with a 0-0 draw–and more importantly, a place in the knockout stage.
Porto pummels Leicester City
Porto took an early advantage in the battle to qualify for the knockout stage behind Leicester City in Group G.
Already with a two-point advantage over Copenhagen, Nuno Espirito Santo’s side took control of its own destiny as Andre Silva's header gave it a sixth-minute lead. But Copenhagen replied almost immediately in its game vs. Club Brugge, as Thomas Delaney’s header was deflected in off Brandon Mechele. The Danish champion doubled its advantage on the quarter-hour as Matthias Jorgenson headed in a right-wing corner.
When it appeared clear Porto would need a victory, it turned on the class. Jesus Corona’s thumping volley doubled Porto’s lead after 26 minutes, and the group was as good as settled. Yacine Brahimi made sure when flicked in a third with his back heel before halftime.
Andre Silva added the fourth from the penalty spot and Diogo Jota made it five to send the Portuguese side through.
Dele Alli, the irritant
The darker side of Alli’s game is becoming increasingly apparent. Last season he picked up a three-game ban for a blind-side punch on West Brom’s Claudio Yacob, and he was causing controversy again on Saturday, winning a penalty against Swansea City with an outrageous dive. Wednesday, he promoted a bout of pushing and shoving by seemingly shooting rather than returning the ball to Akinfeev after it had been put into touch so a player could receive treatment.
He went on to score in Tottenham’s win, but added another chapter to his sordid side.