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Thursday, December 6, 2012

Defending Champions Chelsea Crash Out as Celtic Make Last 16

Disinterested - Chelsea's Mata, Torres and Hazard celebrate Nando's goal against Nordsjaelland

Chelsea became the first defending Champions in the history of the UEFA Champions League to be knocked out at the group stage. The Blues cruised 6-1 past Danish whipping boys FC Nordsjaelland at Stamford Bridge but their fate depended on Juventus losing to Shakhtar. However, the Italian champions won 1-0 courtesy of an own goal from Shakhtar’s Olexandr Kucher.

Spanish forward Fernando Torres ended his 10-hour goal drought scoring a brace for the Blues with David Luiz, Gary Cahill, Juan Mata and Oscar all on the scoresheet. Joshua John scored the only consolation for the Dannish side.

The win was the first for caretaker boss Rafa Benitez in four attempts in all competitions but his reward will come in the shape the less alluring Europe’s second tier club competition, the Europa League.

Juventus leapfrogged their Ukrainian counterparts to Group E top spot.

Meanwhile Scottish side Celtic booked their slot to the knockout stages for the first time in four years with a 2-1 home win over Spartak Moscow. Gary Hooper put the Bhoys ahead in the 21st minute but Brazilian Ari leveled for the Russian side six minutes before the interval. With Benfica also drawing away to second-string Barcelona side at half time, Celtic needed a win to assure them of progress to the last 16.

With clock ticking towards 90minutes, the Scottish giants got a reprieve in the 81st minute when their top scorer in the competition Georgios Samaras went down in the penalty box under minimal contact and German referee Felix Brych awarded him a spot kick. Kris Commons stepped up and slotted home the winner that assured the Scots of second spot and a slot into the last 16. Benfica could only muster a barren draw against Barca at Camp Nou.

The last of the three qualification slots remaining by Wednesday night was grabbed by Galatasaray who joined Group H winners Manchester United into the next round thanks to a 2-1 win away to Sporting Braga. Marcio Mossoro gave the hosts a 32nd minute lead but Burak Yilmaz drew the Turkish side level and Aydin Yilmaz netted the winner 10 minutes before the final whistle.

Luis Alberto scored a second half stunner for Europa League-destined CFR Cluj as they claimed a famous 1-0 victory against Manchester United at Old Trafford. However, Sir Alex Fergusson’s side had already claimed their spot to the next round.

Bayern Munich and Valencia both won their Group F fixtures with the Spaniards settling for second spot following their 1-0 win over Lille as the Bavarians topped the group with a 4-1 win over BATE Borisov.

The draw for the round of 16 will be held on 20 December 2012. The first legs will be played on the 12th, 13th, 19th and 20th February, 2013 and the second legs on the 5th, 6th, 12th and 13th March 2013.

Last 16 Qualifiers

Group A – Paris Saint Germain, Porto

Group B – Schalke 04, Arsenal

Group C – Malaga, AC Milan

Group D – Borussia Dortmund, Real Madrid

Group E – Juventus, Shakhtar Donetsk

Group F – Bayern Munich, Valencia

Group G – Barcelona, Celtic

Group H – Manchester United, Galatasaray

And That's thesteifmastertake!!