UCL roundup: Real Madrid, Juve, Bayern charge into knockout phase
European football bigwigs, Real Madrid, Juventus, Bayern Munich and Manchester United, have booked their places in the knockout phase of this season’s UEFA Champions League.
Real defeated Roma 2-0 at the Olympic stadium in Rome, thanks to goals from Gareth Bale and Lukas Vasquez. The win took the defending champions three points ahead of Roma, securing top spot in the group with a superior head-to-head record.
In Italy, Juventus defeated Valencia 1-0 courtesy of Mario Mandzukic’s strike in the second half to reach the knockout phase. The Croatian striker broke down the Spanish team’s resistance in the 59th minute, converting Cristiano Ronaldo’s pass across the 18-yard box. The win eliminated Valencia and ensured qualification for Manchester United, who needed a 91st minute winner – their first goal at Old Trafford in Europe this season – to defeat Young Boys 1-0.
Bayern Munich rolled back the years with a 5-1 win over Benfica, aided by virtuoso performances from their veteran wingers, Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery. Dutchman, Robben, and German striker, Robert Lewandowski, each scored two goals while Ribery rounded up the win to hand a respite to under-fire coach, Robert Kovac.
The Bavarians will fight for top spot against Ajax in the last group game. The Dutch team qualified for the knock-out stage of the Champions League for the first time in 13 years with a 2-0 win in Greece against AEK Athens. Both goals were scored by Dusan Tadic who converted a penalty for the first and tapped in the second from a Klaas Jan Huntelaar pass.
Manchester City required a Sergio Aguero strike to snatch a point at Olympic Lyon and book their berth in the round of 16. Maxwell Cornet gave the French team the lead twice but Lyon were twice held back, Aymeric Laporte equalising at 1-1, while Argentine striker, Aguero, made it 2-2 on 81 minutes. Pep Guardiola’s team qualified as group winners while Lyon need a point against Shakhtar Donetsk in the final group game to qualify.