Barcelona, Inter seal knock-out place; Stuttgart off to flyerDecember 10th, 2009 - 6:22 pm ICT by IANS
Hamburg, Dec 10 (DPA) Holders Barcelona, Inter Milan and Olympiakos made sure of progress to the last 16 of the Champions League while VfB Stuttgart got off to a flying start under new coach Christian Gross to join them in the knock-out stages.
Barcelona sank Dynamo Kiev’s brief hopes of an upset when Xavi levelled an early strike from the Ukrainians and Lionel Messi scored a late free-kick to give the Spanish side a 2-1 win and top spot in Group F, Wednesday.
Inter meanwhile defeated Russian champions Rubin Kazan 2-0 thanks to a first-half goal from Samuel Eto’o and a fierce free-kick from Mario Balotelli midway through the second half to finish second in the group.
Dynamo went ahead against Barca in the second minute when Artem Melevskiy got the slightest of touches with his head to an Andriy Shevchenko free-kick.
It was enough to irritate keeper Victor Valdez who got down to the ball but could not prevent it slipping out of his hands and over the line.
Barca clawed their way back in the 33rd minute with a move started by Messi whose pass to Eric Abidal on the left was immediately sent across goal where Xavi with a fine touch did the rest.
Messi then struck the winner when he curled a left-footed free-kick under the bar with four minutes remaining - the goal consigning Dynamo to last place in the group behind Rubin.
Struggling German club VfB Stuttgart meanwhile stormed into the knockout stage with three goals in the first 11 minutes - the fastest three-goal start in Champions League history - in a 3-1 victory over Unirea Urzecini.
Gross, in his first game in charge since succeeding the sacked Markus Babbel, saw Ciprian Marica, Christian Traesh and Pavel Pogrebnyak score in the fifth, eighth and 11th minutes in a blitz start from the Germans before Antonio Semedo pulled a goal back two minutes after the break.
“That was a fantastic begin,” said Stuttgart keeper Jens Lehmann.
“That happens sometimes in football when a new impetus comes, in this case the coach. Then things happen that you don’t think are possible.
“We are now among the 16 best teams in Europe and want to show that now in the Bundesliga.”
Gross said: “We were very dominant at the beginning and put our opponents under pressure which was just what I wanted. The win was very important and we want to carry this over into the Bundesliga now which is more important at the moment.”
The win meant Stuttgart leapfrogged Unirea to finish in Group G behind already-qualified Sevilla who finished their campaign with a 1-0 win over Glasgow Rangers, Frederic Kanoute scoring an eighth-minute penalty.
Greek side Olympiakos made sure of second place behind Arsenal in Group H by beating a youthful Gunners 1-0, courtesy of a Leonardo goal shortly after the break.
Standard Liege grabbed a 1-1 draw in stoppage time - thanks to a header from goalkeeper Sinan Bolat - against Dutch side AZ Alkmaar to finish third in the group and book a place in the Europa League.
Bolat came up for a free-kick almost five minutes into injury time to head the ball into the top corner of the net.
Fiorentina - already qualified - snatched top spot in Group E with a last gasp goal from Alberto Gilardino for a 2-1 win at Liverpool, who were were already sure of third place and a Europa League berth.
Already qualified Olympique Lyon had to make do with second place despite breezing to a 4-0 victory over Hungarian outfit Debrecen who ended with six straight defeats.
Wednesday’s four qualifiers join Chelsea, Porto, Bayern Munich, Manchester United, CSKA Moscow, Arsenal, Olympique Lyon, Girondins Bordeaux, Sevilla, Fiorentina, AC Milan and Real Madrid in the draw for the last 16 on Dec 18.
- Dynamo slump continues with defeat against Terek - Aug 19, 2012
- Ibisevic puts Stuttgart past Dynamo - Aug 29, 2012
- Barcelona goalless at Inter; Arsenal win after early shock - Sep 17, 2009
- Dynamo drawn against Stuttgart in Europa League playoffs - Aug 10, 2012
- Early exits beckon for Champions League big guns - Nov 23, 2009
- Lyon on fire on bad night for British clubs - Sep 30, 2009
- Sevilla and Lyon close in on next round, Barcelona stunned - Oct 21, 2009
- Barca, Real seek Champions League revenge - Nov 02, 2009
- Qualifying first is not important: Messi - Sep 08, 2012
- Rubin signs Malaga striker Rondon - Aug 05, 2012
- Rubin Kazan sign Spaniard Orbaiz - Jul 25, 2012
- Kuranyi puts faith in Petrescu to rescue Dynamo - Aug 20, 2012
- Champions League: Barcelona held by Milan, Arsenal by Dortmund - Sep 14, 2011
- Messi makes history with 50 goals in Spanish league - May 06, 2012
- Barcelona delighted to battle out draw in Stuttgart - Feb 24, 2010
Tags: andriy shevchenko, christian gross, ciprian marica, dynamo kiev, eric abidal, free kick, german club, inter milan, jens lehmann, knockout stage, league history, lionel messi, markus babbel, rubin kazan, russian champions, samuel eto o, spanish side, unirea, vfb stuttgart, victor valdez