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Invariably Matchday 6 doesn't quite offer the kind of excitement that one would usually expect from the final round of Group stage matches in the world's leading club competition with most teams having already booked their places in the knock-out rounds of the UEFA Champions League. The case of Tuesday's fixtures was that all three qualifiers from Groups A and B were already decided, though top spot in both groups was up for grabs. The Champions League qualifiers from Groups C and D were also in, but Europa League spots were still on offer.
Russian champions Zenit St. Petersburg finally fulfilled their promise by picking up a rare win at the San Siro to take third place in Group C at the expense of Anderlecht, while former Champions League winners, Ajax were hammered 4-1 at the Santiago Bernabeu by Real Madrid, but still it made it through to the Europa League as English champions Manchester City were soundly beaten 1-0 by Borussia Dortmund to end their European sojourn far sooner than they would have liked.
Toppers: PSG, Runners-up: FC Porto, Europa League: Dynamo Kiev, Knocked out: Dinamo Zagreb
The battle for top spot in Group A was a direct shootout between Paris St. Germain and FC Porto, at Parc des Princes. Thiago Silva gave the homeside the lead in the 29th minute, only to see Jackson MartÃnez draw Porto level just 4 minutes later. Ezequiel Lavezzi though made sure that PSG will be seeded in the round of 16 draw by popping up with the winner just after the hour mark.
In the other Group A game, an injury time penalty from Ivan Krstanovic earned Dinamo Zagreb a 1-1 draw at home to Dynamo Kiev.
Toppers: Schalke 04, Runners-up: Arsenal, Europa League: Olympiakos, Knocked out: Montpellier
Schalke were not at their best on Tuesday night, held to a 1-1 draw at Montpellier with Emanuel Herrera cancelling out Benedikt HÃ¶wedes opener. Schalke were on the backfoot for most of the second half, and had goalkeeper Timo Hildebrand to thank for coming away with a share of the spoils. The result though proved irrelevant as Arsenal were beaten 2-1 by Olympiacos in Greece, thereby failing to take advantage of the opportunity to top their group.
Amazingly though the Gunners went into the break leading 1-0 courtesy Tomas Rosciky's 38th minute strike, the Czech international's first goal since March, having started his first game this season. Rosicky though was replaced at half-time by Andrei Arshavin as Wenger decided not to overplay the 32-year old Czech (no injury).
Arsenal though were very poor in the second half, out-passed and thoroughly outplayed, and though Arsene Wenger might complain about the legitimacy of Olympiakos' equalizer (he claimed it wasn't a corner - replays were inconclusive), the Gunners' defending, once again from crosses into the box left a lot to be desired.
Giannis Maniatis brought Olympiakos level in the 65th minute, while substitute Kostas Mitroglou sealed the win 8 minutes later. In all honesty, the match wasn't even really that close, and Olympiakos could have well won by an even bigger margin.
Toppers: Malaga, Runners-up: AC Milan, Europa League: Zenit St Petersburg, Knocked out: Anderlecht
The stars aligned perfectly for Russian champions Zenit St. Petersburg in Group C as they picked up a massive win at the San Siro, beating AC Milan 1-0 courtesy a goal from Danny. Milan finished second in the Group behind newcomers Malaga, who were held to a 2-2 draw by Anderlecht at La Rosaleda. A brace from Duda looked set to give Malaga yet another win, but DieudonnÃ© Mbokani popped up in the 89th minute to give the Belgian champions hope of an amazing comeback, but it was not to be as they made an early exit from Europe.
Toppers: Borussia Dortmund, Runners-up: Real Madrid, Europa League: Ajax, Knocked out: Man City
Top spot and a Europa League place were both up for grabs in the Group of Death featuring four national champion sides. Dortmung sealed the first with a 1-0 win over Manchester City courtesy of a second half goal from Julian Schieber. That result meant that irrespective of whatever happened at the Santiago Bernabeu, the English champions would not see more European action this season. Despite the obvious disappointment for City fans, the absence of the pressures of Europe in the second half of the season could well prove useful to their title challenge.
Ajax meanwhile were decimated 4-1 by Real Madrid, with Jose Callejon scoring a brace. Cristiano Ronaldo got his staple goal, his 61st of this calendar year, while arguably the goal of the night was a delightful strike from Kaka, as the Brazilian rolled back the years.
Matchday Six Results:
Borussia Dortmund 1-0 Man City
Olympiakos 2-1 Arsenal
AC Milan 0-1 Zenit St Petersburg
Dinamo Zagreb 1-1 Dynamo Kiev
Malaga 2-2 Anderlecht
Montpellier 1-1 Schalke 04
PSG 2-1 FC Porto
Real Madrid 4-1 Ajax
- 07/12/2012 09:23 - UEFA Europa League Wrap: Liverpool, Tottenham advance to next round with wins
- 06/12/2012 10:14 - Champions League Matchday 6 Wednesday Wrap: Chelsea win but fail to qualify, Celtic and Galatasaray advance to last 16
- 05/12/2012 11:15 - Olympiakos 2-1 Arsenal: Player ratings