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Trouble in Basel as Manchester United get knocked out of Champions League

wayne_rooney_3The task of claiming the single point necessary to qualify had seemed easy enough before the start of the game, but Manchester United were humbled 2-1 at the St. Jakob-Park by hosts FC Basel, and were subsequently knocked out of the UEFA Champions League in quite dramatic fashion on Wednesday. The Red Devils, behind group leaders Benfica by a solitary point before kickoff, had a very poor start to the game, with Marco Streller netting in the opening stages to give Basel a crucial lead. That lead was doubled towards the end by Streller's strike partner Alexander Frei, and despite the late goal that last season's finalists got back through Phil Jones, it was too little too late, as the referee blew time on the game and United's campaign. Benfica, victorious against Otelul in the other Group C game, qualified on top of the pile, while Basel leapfrogged the sorry Red Devils into second and made the cut for the last 16.

The hosts' starting eleven did not throw up any surprises, as manager Heiko Vogel went for a tried-and-trusted 4-4-2 formation with Swiss record-breaking striker Alexander Frei partnering Marco Streller upfront. The former's namesake Fabian Frei had an impressive game during the reverse fixture at Old Trafford, and was present again on the wing, as was dangerman Xherdan Shaqiri, with the center midfield patrolled by Granit Xhaka and Cabral. Regular central defensive pairing Aleksandar Dragovic and David Abraham lined up in tandem again, with South Korean international Park Joo-Ho and Markus Steinhofer flanking the duo.


UEFA Champions League: City bow out with a win against Munich as Napoli progress to the next round

david_silvaManchester City played host to Bayern Munich at the Etihad on Matchday 6 of the group stage of the UEFA Champions League knowing that not only did they need to beat the Bavarian giants, but also needed Villarreal to defeat Napoli in the other group encounter in order to qualify for the next stage. With Bayern fielding a depleted side, City did manage to beat the German giants at home, with a David Silva screamer breaking the deadlock in the 36th minute and a well worked YayaToure goal doubling the advantage in the 52nd minute. However, despite the positive result, City failed to qualify, as Napoli beat Villarreal to seal the runners-up spot in the group.

Hosts Manchester City had a lot riding on this match and started with a full strength team, with Edin Dzeko spearheading the attack. Behind him were the trio of Samir Nasri, David Silva and Sergio Aguero, with Gareth Barry and Yaya Toure deployed in their usual central midfield positions. City's defence had Joleon Lescott and Vincent Kompany in the centre, with Gael Clichy and Stefan Savic out wide.


UEFA Champions League wrap: Chelsea go through, Marseille leave it late

The first night of Matchday Six action in the Champions League saw three more teams secure their place in the knockout round as the group stage neared its end. Chelsea were the biggest name to make it through to the last 16 following a 3-0 victory over Valencia while Marseille & Zenit St Petersburg also achieved the results needed for qualification. In Group E, Leverkusen drew 1-1 at Genk to lose top spot to Chelsea. Over in Group F, a much-changed Arsenal lost 3-1 at Olympiakos while Marseille came from two goals down to beat Borussia Dortmund 3-2 to secure 2nd place in the group. Zenit's 0-0 draw against Porto meant that they qualified behind Group G leaders Apoel Nicosia, who lost 2-0 to Shakhtar Donetsk. Finally in Group H, AC Milan drew 2-2 against Viktoria Plzen while leaders Barcelona cruised to a 4-0 victory over BATE Borisov.

Group E

Chelsea went into the night needing a victory or a scoreless draw against their Spanish opponents to qualify to the next stage, keenly aware that a win for Valencia would consign them to the Europa League. Didier Drogba rose to the occasion with a brilliant brace while Ramires grabbed the other goal. Drogba opened the scoring in the 3rd minute from Juan Mata's cross before setting up Ramires for the 2nd on 22 minutes. With Valencia constantly knocking on the door, the home side needed a 3rd goal to be sure of victory and they got it courtesy of the Ivorian in the 76th minute, with Mata the provider once again. Elsewhere, Leverkusen began the day atop the table but had lost top spot to Chelsea by the end of it. Jelle Voseen gave the Belgian side a surprise lead on 30 minutes, but Leverkusen's search for a goal finally paid dividends in the 79th minute after Eren Derdiyok made up for his earlier misses with a powerful finish. Chelsea topped the group with 11 points, Leverkusen finished 2nd with 10 while Valencia will move-on to the Europa League after finishing 3rd with 8 points.


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