Last year’s beaten finalists Borussia Dortmund were just four minutes away from exiting this year’s competition before Kevin Grosskreutz’s scuffed winner in Marseille saw them qualify as group winners.
Robert Lewandowski’s neat chip put Dortmund ahead in the fourth minute, but the lead lasted only 10 minutes before Souleymane Diawara headed home an equaliser. With the score at 1-1 and with Napoli winning against Arsenal, the 2013 finalists looked to be heading out of Europe’s premier club competition, despite playing against 10 men following the first-half dismissal of OM midfielder Dimitri Payet. But, in the 86th minute, Kevin popped up to fire the German side into the knockout stages.
Ten-man AC Milan scraped into the knockout stages by resisting an all-out Ajax assault to secure a goalless draw at the San Siro — the only Italian side to make it through.
The Serie A giants needed a point to ensure second place in Group H ahead of Frank de Boer’s Ajax. However, Riccardo Montolivo’s early dismissal left the Rossoneri playing at a disadvantage for over 68 minutes and goalkeeper Christian Abbiati had to draw on all his European experience to keep the desperate Dutch side at bay.
Wesley Sneijder beat the snow to give Roberto Mancini’s Galatasaray a 1-0 win over Juventus that put his side and not the Italians into the last 16 of the Champions League.
Resuming their game which was abandoned due to the conditions on Tuesday, the two looked set for a goalless draw which would have sent Juve through in the wake of group leaders Real Madrid.
Sneijder changed all that, though, scoring five minutes from the end to life and condemn Juve to the Europa League. It will be a bitter pill to swallow for the Old Lady, whose manager, Antonio Conte, expressed concerns about the pitch as the players went off for half-time.
Mancini agreed afterwards that the game should not have went ahead.
“It was difficult to play football in these circumstances and I said beforehand it was dangerous for the players, so perhaps better not to play,” said Mancini.
Zenit St Petersburg lurched into the knockout stages as Atletico Madrid’s 2-0 defeat of Porto rendered the Russian side’s 4-1 loss at Austria Vienna meaningless. Zenit won just one of their group games, but Atletico’s dominance means six points was enough to progress.
Schalke wrapped up second spot in Group E behind Chelsea with two second-half strikes from Julian Draxler and Joel Matip earning a 2-0 home win over 10-man Basel.
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