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Chelsea became the first winners of the Champions League to fail to make the knock-out rounds the following season despite picking up a thumping 6-1 win against a hapless Nordsjaelland side at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday night. The Blues will have to make do with playing in the Europa League in February, losing out on qualification as a result of Juventus' narrow 1-0 win over Shakhtar Donetsk in the Donbass arena. That win for Juve sent them top of Group E, while Shakhtar, who has already qualified to the knock-out rounds finished as the runners-up courtesy of their better head-to-head record against Chelsea.
Meanwhile Group F saw last season's Champions League runners-up Bayern Munich come out on top with Valencia grabbing second place. Scottish giants Celtic advanced from Group G at the expense of Benfica, who fired blanks at the Camp Nou, while Group H saw Galatasaray pip CFR Cluj to second place despite the Romanian outfit picking up a memorable 1-0 win over Manchester United at Old Trafford.
Toppers: Juventus, Runners-up: Shakhtar Donetsk, Europa League: Chelsea, Knocked out: Nordsjaelland
Juventus needed at least a point to advance to the knock-out rounds of the Champions League as they headed over to Ukraine to face a very much in-form Shakhtar side. A win though would send Juve to the top of the group, sufficient incentive, for Shaktar to roll up their sleeves as well for this one. Juve though had Shakhtar defender Olexandr Kucher to thank as he turned in Stephan Lichsteiner's cross. In fairness to the defender though, Sebastian Giovinco was on hand to poke it home had he missed.
That goal meant that the result at Stamford Bridge was largely academic, but Chelsea did pick up their first win under new boss Rafa Benitez, with Fernando Torres scoring a rare brace in a thumping 6-1 win. Both sides missed penalties in the first half before David Luiz stepped up to thump one home to put Chelsea in front. Torres made it 2-0 before half-time, but Nordsjaelland got one back just after the break through Joshua John. It was all Chelsea though after that as Gary Cahill scored from a corner before Torres, Juan Mata and Oscar gave the home fans something to cheer about.
Chelsea will head off for the World Club Cup later this month, an opportunity for them to salvage some pride in what is turning into a disastrous season.
Toppers: Bayern, Runners-up: Valencia, Europa League: BATE, Knocked out: Lille
All three qualifiers from Group F were already determined at the start of the Matchday 6, but top spot in the Group was up for grabs. There was to be no change though in the way the table looked at the end of the day with Bayern benefiting from their better head to head record against Valencia to finish top of the group despite both teams being tied on 13 points.
Bayern won their home game against BATE Borisov 4-1 despite playing most of the second half with 10-men after Jerome Boateng was sent off in the 51st minute. Mario Gomez had given Bayern the lead mid-way through the first half, and goals from Thomas Muller, Xherdan Shaqiri and Alaba made the points safe before a late strike from Filipenko gave the visitors a consolation goal.
Valencia meanwhile had a first half penalty from Jonas to thank for their 1-0 win away to Lille.
Toppers: Barcelona, Runners-up: Celtic, Europa League: Benfica, Knocked out: Spartak Moscow
An 82nd minute penalty from Scottish international Kris Commons gave Celtic a 2-1 win over Spartak Moscow, and safe passage through to the knock-out rounds of the Champions League. Gary Hooper had put Celtic on their way before Ari drew Spartak level in the first half. It was a nervy end to the game, with the penalty decision more than a little contentious, but in truth Benfica had only themselves to blame for going out of the competition.
The Portuguese giants produced a magnificent performance against a second-string Barcelona side, but failed to find the back of the net despite creating 18 scoring opportunities. A mixture of selfish play, poor finishing and last ditch defending meant that Benfica were forced to be content with life in the Europa League.
Lionel Messi with 84 goals already this year, came off the bench in the second half, chasing Gerd Muller's record of 85, but had to limp off with what the Barca medical staff described as a bruise to his left knee. With only 4 games left this year, it remains to be seen if the little Argentine will be fit and able to return to action.
Toppers: Man Utd, Runners-up: Galatasaray, Europa League: CFR Cluj, Knocked out: Braga
Manchester United too fielded a much changed line-up with top spot in the Group already in the bag, with Wayne Rooney the only player who started their last league game against Reading at the weekend. Despite that, United played good football, only to be done in by a wonder strike from Luis Alberto in the second half. Cluj hung on to win 1-0 to end level on points with Turkish champions Galatasaray, who came from behind to beat a Braga side that played well in patches right through the tournament, but lacked consistency.
Cluj finished level on points with Galatasaray, but the Turks went through to the last 16 courtesy their better head-to-head record against the Romanian champions.
With the Group stage finally done and dusted, Europe's elite will turn their eyes towards the Champions League draw on Thursday, 20th December.
Celtic 2-1 Spartak Moscow
Chelsea 6-1 Nordsjaelland
Man Utd 0-1 CFR Cluj-Napoca
Barcelona 0-0 Benfica
Bayern Munich 4-1 BATE Borisov
Braga 1-2 Galatasaray
Lille 0-1 Valencia
Shakhtar Donetsk 0-1 Juventus
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