Real Madrid and Manchester City became the first 2 sides to book their places in the round of 16 phase of this Champions League edition. While the Spanish giants sneaked their way past Paris Saint-Germain with a 1-0 win, the Citizen’s were the dominant side as they mauled Sevilla 1-3 at the Ramon Pizjuan stadium.
There were two red cards on the night, one for Juventus and the other for Benfica. The was a dramatic night even at Old Trafford as Manchester United scored late in the second half after they had just survived a few close shaves in defence to win against CSKA Moscow.
Most spectators expected Real Madrid to dominate the visiting Parisian side at the Santiago Bernabeu, however, Paris Saint-Germain held their own in the 1-0 defeat to Los Blancos. After a good start to the game for the visitors who came close to scoring a number of times in the game, they found themselves behind after early substitute Nacho turned Toni Kroos’ deflected shot into the goal from a tight angle.
Benitez’s side were lucky not to have conceded on at least 3-4 occasions, their former player Angel Di Maria coming within inches of scoring against them in the last few minutes with a freekick but only clipped the crossbar. The result means that Real Madrid are the only undefeated side in Europe now and they still haven’t conceded in the Champions League.
Shakhtar picking up their first points of the group in their 4-0 thrashing of Malmo also means that Real go through to the next round for sure, the only challengers they now have for the position on top of the group table are PSG.
After one win, one loss, and one draw in their first three games, Manchester United needed another win to consolidate their position in the group and Louis van Gaal’s side earned the 3 points in a 1-0 win over CSKA Moscow at Old Trafford. The win took the Red Devils top of their table as PSV Eindhoven beat Wolfsburg 2-0 in the other fixture in the group.
The goal Wayne Rooney scored for Manchester United was a momentous one for both him and the club as he equalled Denis Law’s goalscoring tally for United and broke the club's drought after 404 minutes of not scoring in any competition.
The results on the night make this group interesting though as all 4 sides stand a chance to qualify and things are poised for a good finish to this bunch of 4 teams. United are on 7 points and Wolfsburg and PSV are both on 6 points, SKA are bottom with 4 points but can get 6 from the remaining 2 games.
The early kick-off on the matchday saw Atletico Madrid travel to take on FC Astana as Diego Simeone’s side were held to a 0-0 draw. The Spanish side could have been top of the group table had they won, but that honour went to Benfica who were reduced to 10 men after they took the lead twice against Galatasaray to win 2-1.
While all sides in this group can also make it to the next round, the odds are tilted heavily in favour of Atletico and Benfica who’re the top 2 in the group. If Astana do make it to the next round, it would be a massive upset.
Manchester City have successfully navigated the Group of Death as they currently have a points tally of 9 which ensures their passage to the next round as they won in 3-1 against Sevilla in Spain. It was quite a feat considering the poor record English sides have at the Ramon Pizjuan stadium.
What also worked in the Sky Blues’ favour was that a 10 man Juventus side were held to a 1-1 draw by Monchengladbach after Hernanes was sent off. The German side took the lead only to be undone by Lichtsteiner's volley. It means the Italians are now in second place and should be the other side to qualify from this one.