|Napoli's Edinson Cavani heads the opener against Manchester City|
Manchester City’s progression to the Champions League knockout stages no longer lies on their hands after their 2-1 defeat away to Italian side Napoli.
The Citizens went into the match knowing that doing an Italian job over the Partenpoei will secure them a spot in the knockout stages. However, Edinson Cavani’s brace condemned the English Premier League table-toppers to a defeat that could see them drop into the less-fancied Europa League should Napoli win against bottom side Villarreal in a fortnight.
The two teams stretched each other in the opening minutes and it took 20minutes for the hometeam to reward the over 57,000 fans who turned out at the Stadio San Paolo. Edinson Cavani capitalized from some poor defending from Man City as he raced to head in the opener from near post.
Napoli decided to sit back after the goal and were duly punished in the 33rd minute with a defensive error of their own. Salvatore Aronica’s poor clearance inside the box fell to David Silva in the box and the Spaniard saw his shot parried by Napoli keeper Morgan De Sanctis into the path of Mario Balotelli who had the easy task of tapping the ball into the net to make it 1-1.
Napoli got the winner after the interval. Former Liverpool defender Andrea Dossena sped on the left and cut the ball back to Cavani who calmly side-kicked the ball past Joe Hart to elicit raucous celebrations from the capacity crowd at San Paolo.
Roberto Mancini's side tried to pull the goal back but to no avail. The win puts Walter Mazzari’s fate into their own hands and should they repeat their earlier 2-0 win away to Villarreal on December 7, they’ll progress to the last 16 and see Roberto Mancini’s side kicked out of the Champions League in their maiden appearance.
In the other Group A match, Bayern Munich clinched qualification into the knockout rounds with a 3-1 win over Villarreal at the Alianz Arena. Franck Ribery scored a goal either side of Mario Gomez’s strike in the 23rd minute to secure the Bavarians the group. Jonathan De Guzmán scored the consolation for the Yellow Submarines.
In Group B, Inter Milan confirmed their status as group winners despite drawing 1-1 away to Trabzonspor. Ricardo Gabriel Álvarez smashed the Turkish side into the lead after 18minutes but Halil Altintop drew level for the Italians in the 23rd minute as the match ended 1-1. Vasili Berezutski’s own goal in the 49th minute and Moussa Sow’s 64th minute strike gave Lille a 2-0 win over Russia’s CSKA Moscow at the Luzhniki Stadium.
The race for second place in the group is wide open. The final group matches will see CSKA travel to the San Siro to face Inter Milan while Lille will welcome Trabzonspor in a winner-take-all match.
Meanwhile Manchester United continued to labour in Group C as they fought to a 2-2 draw with visiting Benfica at Old Trafford. A Phil Jones own goal and Pablo Aimar’s volley in the 61st minute saw the two teams share spoils for the second time and take the qualification right to the wire. Dimitar Berbatov and Darren Fletcher scored for Sir Alex’s side. In the other group match, Otelul and Basel served the fans with a five-goal thriller match with Basel edging out the hosts 3-2.
Man United travel to Basel while Benfica welcome Otelul Galati in the final group matches.
Real Madrid hit six past Dinamo Zagreb at the Estadio Bernabeu but not before conceding two goals, the only goals they let in so far in the competition. Karim Benzema and Callejon scored a brace each while Gonzalo Higuain and Mesut Ozil scored the other two as the La Liga giants maintained a perfect winning record in the group. Fatos Beciraj 81′ and Ivan Tomecak 90′ scored for Dinamo but the match was already won within the first 10 minutes of the game. Ajax and Lyon shared the spoils.
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