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Benfica and Napoli secured the two knockout round berths available Tuesday, and Arsenal ended up surprise Group A winners on a Champions League match day with a lot of dead rubber.
Basel 1-4 Arsenal
Look what Arsenal has in the cupboard.
Lucas Perez’s second Champions League appearance for the Gunners was a runaway success, as the 28-year-old Spaniard nailed a hat trick by the 47th minute of Arsenal’s X-0 win over Basel on Tuesday.
Perez scored 17 goals for Deportivo de la Coruna last season, but entered Tuesday with under 500 minutes for Arsenal this season. An ankle injury had cost him a month on the sidelines.
Seydou Doumbia scored late for the hosts.
Manchester City 1-1 Celtic
With nothing on the line but pride and experience, Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola used a lot of youth on Tuesday against Celtic.
Unfortunately (fortunately?) for Pep, the first City man to score was on loan at Celtic. Young Patrick Roberts, scooped up from Fulham last season, netted in the fourth minute against City’s unorthodox back six.
City keeper Wily Caballero was called upon a few times in the second half, as Celtic and its noisy traveled fans were prepared to make a memory.
Barcelona 4-0 Monchengladbach — Hat trick for Arda Turan
PSG 2-2 Ludogorets — Shock draw at the Parc des Princes
Dynamo Kiev 6-0 Besiktas — Red card dooms Turkish side
Benfica 1-2 Napoli — Jose Callejon nets Napoli opener
Bayern Munich 1-0 Atletico Madrid — Lewandowski ruins perfection for Atleti
Eindhoven 0-0 Rostov
BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) Argentina’s union of referees has threatened to go on strike to protest the brutal attack on an official by angry fans.
Union director Guillermo Marconi says the group wants to launch the stoppage after the attack on referee Claudio Elichiri.
The violence broke out Sunday after Elichiri failed to award a penalty in favor of local team Sarmiento in a decisive regional league game against Sansinena.
[ MORE: Vieira on NYCFC offseason, Mix Diskerud ]
Sansinena scored a goal right after, putting them ahead 2-1. Irate fans invaded the field and the referee expelled several protesting Sarmiento players and suspended the game, enraging local fans and players.
Elichiri escaped with the help of some Sarmiento players. He told local radio that he had to get stitches under his eye and is still hurting from bruises.
The stars are out on Tuesday in the UEFA Champions League, as Lionel Messi and Robert Lewandowski are among those with first half goals in the final group stage matches of the 2016-17 campaign.
Barcelona 1-0 Borussia Monchengladbach
Having played one less game than his megawatt rival, Lionel Messi is now a goal away from equaling Cristiano Ronaldo’s record for most goals in a UEFA Champions League group stage.
Manchester City 1-1 Celtic
PSG 0-1 Ludogorets Razgrad
Virgil Misidjan gives the visitors a surprising lead…
Basel 0-2 Arsenal
…and a Lucas Perez double has the Londoners on pace to win the group.
Dynamo Kyiv 3-0 Besiktas
Artem Biesiedin’s goal has been buttressed by an Andriy Yarmolenko penalty and a third tally courtesy of Vitaliy Buyalskiy, as Napoli and Benfica look set to go through.
Bayern Munich 1-0 Atletico Madrid
Robert Lewandowski strikes with a nasty free kick for the hosts, who will finish second in the group regardless of result.
Benfica 0-0 Napoli
PSV Eindhoven 0-0 Rostov
While the general feel of Tuesday’s MLS MVP ceremony in New York City was upbeat for New York City FC, the club has a challenging road ahead this offseason as they look to retool ahead of 2017.
Captain and star striker David Villa accepted honors on Tuesday as the Landon Donovan MLS MVP after notching 23 goals and four assists for the Eastern Conference, but outside of the Spaniard the team will have several noticeable holes that need plugging prior to next season.
[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverage ]
NYCFC manager Patrick Vieira proved to be a strong hire in his first season with the club, but his potential success moving forward will be dictated by how he and technical director Claudio Reyna fill out the rest of the roster.
Key pieces such as Frank Lampard and Andoni Iraola have since left the club after providing stability in the midfield this past season, while Jason Hernandez, Claudio Bravo and Steven Mendoza were among the other roster casualties following the team’s first playoff appearance in 2016.
While Vieira admits losing players like Lampard certainly presents a challenge, the Frenchman believes that NYCFC can just as easily recruit more talented members in the buildup to next season.
“Of course we lost Frank [Lampard],” Vieira said. “We lose some other players as well. We have to bring some new players. Something that is very important to us is that we have to be better and we have to bring players that can match out targets and we have different options on the table.
“You would not believe how many players would love to play for New York City FC. We will have some difficult decisions to make and it’s important for us to bring the right people, like David, because it’s important to bring people who want to come, people who want to work hard, prepare to sacrifice themselves for the football club because we have to do well next year.
As it stands, NYCFC currently has 18 players under contract ahead of the 2017 season, including two Designated Players (Villa and Andrea Pirlo).
One name that certainly jumps out on the list of 18 though is U.S. Men’s National Team midfielder Mix Diskerud, who has seen more downs than ups in his two seasons in the Bronx. After making 27 appearances for NYCFC in the team’s inaugural season, Diskerud’s playing time was dwindled down significantly in 2016 under Vieira to just nine starts in 12 overall appearances.
The 26-year-old was the fourth-highest paid player on NYCFC in 2016 — making $761,250 — however, he scored just one goal and added two assists. The club is still looking to figure out the best way to handle the Diskerud situation though, according to Vieira.
“He’s looking for playing time,” Vieira said. “We’re having discussions with him and trying to find the best way to satisfy both Mix and ourselves.”Follow @MattReedFutbol