CL Wrap: Chelsea pummeled in Rome, Man United eases by Benfica

Associated Press
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Roma 3-0 Chelsea

Stephen El Shaarawy scored a brace, with his first coming 40 seconds into the match, and Chelsea was dropped from the top of Group C. Antonio Rudiger had a brutal match, partly at fault on both goals from El Shaarawy. The second was particularly ugly, with Rudiger almost allowing the ball to reach the Italian like a door swinging open. Diego Perotti scored Roma’s third in the second half to add insult to injury.

Chelsea has now leaked ten goals in its last five matches across all competitions, and drops to second in the Champions League group, three clear of Qarabag with two matches to play. Tuesday’s result is Chelsea’s heaviest Champions League defeat since 2012, when they became the first defending champions to be eliminated in the group stage.

Atletico Madrid 1-1 Qarabag

A near-stunner in Spain saw the teams share the points as Azerbaijani club Qarabag took the lead on 40 minutes but conceded early into the second half in a 1-1 draw. Fittingly, Spanish striker Michel scored the opener, delivering a fabulous header directing a corner past Jan Oblak.

Atletico would hit back in the 56th minute on an absolutely stunning goal by midfielder Thomas. Qarabag defended well as Atleti attacked down the right, but the ball fell to the 24-year-old Ghanan at the top of the penalty area and he left fly a vicious, curling effort that spectacularly found the top-right corner.

Pedro Henrique was then shown a straight red minutes later for a karate kick to see the visitors down to 10 men, but the visitors were able to see out the point amid an absolute tidal wave, as Atletico finished with 35 shots, 11 on target. They were helped when Atletico was also reduced to 10 men as Stefan Slavic was given a second yellow card.

Manchester United 2-0 Benfica

Anthony Martial had a penalty saved by Mile Svilar, but the 18-year-old was unlucky to concede an own-goal just before halftime as the Red Devils saw themselves to victory and confirming qualification to the Knockout round as a result.

The goal came in first-half stoppage time as Nemanja Matic rifled a long-range effort on net that clanged off the left post. Svilar had thrown himself unsuccessfully at the shot, leaving him sprawled out on the ground as the ball clattered off the post, came back off Svilar’s hip, and into the back of the net. Daley Blind was on hand to ensure the victory, cooly finishing a penalty with 12 minutes remaining.

The result leaves Manchester United six points clear of both CSKA Moscow and Basel in Group A, all but assuring them qualification with two games to play, and very likely to top the group.

Sporting CP 1-1 Juventus

Bruno Cesar pocketed a rebound to put Sporting CP deservingly in front of Italian giants Juventus in Portugal, but Gonzalo Higuain came to the rescue to share the spoils. The home side went ahead in the 20th minute, but Higuain chipped Sporting goalkeeper from a tight angle in the 79th minute. Still, Juventus failed to capitalize on Barcelona’s slip, leaving the Spaniards still three points adrift at the top of Group D.

Olympiakos 0-0 Barcelona

The Catalans held 69% possession and attempted 19 shots, but couldn’t find a way past Olympiakos as they come to a 0-0 draw in Greece. It’s the first time in five years that Barcelona has been held scoreless in a Champions League group stage match.

Celtic 1-2 Bayern Munich

Javi Martinez gave Bayern Munich the win, scoring with 12 minutes remaining to give the Germans all three points in Scotland.

Kingsley Coman had scored a controversial goal in the first half, beating sleeping defender Dedryck Boyata but handling the ball as he collected and scored. Celtic thought they had served justice as Callum McGregor equalized on a completely broken play, but the visitors struck back just three minutes later to retake the lead. Martinez headed in powerfully on a baseline cross from David Alaba.

Paris Saint-Germain 5-0 Anderlecht

Neymar created PSG’s first and scored their second as the home side blasted Belgian stalwarts Anderlecht in the French capital. The Brazilian found Kylian Mbappe at the top of the box, who immediately fed Marco Verratti completely unguarded on the left flank for PSG’s first right on the half-hour mark. They scored again before the break, with Neymar dribbling all the way in from the corner flag, cutting across the box and firing a simple finish off the hands of Frank Boeckx and into the back of the net.

Layvin Kurzawa then took charge, scoring a 2nd half hat-trick to put the game out of sight.

The win sees PSG qualify for the knockout round, in addition to keeping pace with Bayern. The three points leaves PSG free at the top of Group B by that margin, with the German club sitting just behind them as both look likely to move on.

Basel 1-2 CSKA Moscow

Luca Zuffi and Alan Dzagoev appeared to have cancelled each other out, but Pontus Wernbloom scored a 79th minute winner to muddy up Group A. Manchester United is in control at the top, but the win for the Russians puts CSKA level with Basel in second place, both on six points with two more matches to play.