Brilliant United, Real and PSG into last 16
Last Updated: Thursday, November 28, 2013, 11:42
Joining United and Real in the knockout stages of Europe`s premier club competition yesterday were French champions Paris Saint-Germain with five sides - Chelsea, Bayern Munich, Atletico Madrid, Barcelona and Manchester City - already qualified.
That leaves the identity of the final eight last 16 contenders to be determined at the final throw of the first round dice in mid-December.
United produced the performance of David Moyes` short reign as manager since he succeeded Alex Ferguson, who beamed down from Leverkusen`s stand as goals from Antonio Valencia, Jonny Evans, Chris Smalling, Nani and an own-goal from Emir Spahic left the Bundesliga side bemused.
"This is probably the best performance of the season. For us to come away from home and score five goals is really special," said Moyes.
"[The performance] was what I was hoping to get more often, there have been signs we are getting better but also signs we have been wasteful as well," he added.
United go into the closing group game against Shakhtar Donetsk as Group A leaders on 11 points, with Shakhtar up to second, three points behind, after a 4-0 win over Real Sociedad.
In Madrid, a fine free-kick from Gareth Bale set Real on their way to a 4-1 rout of Galatasaray which guaranteed them top spot in Group B irrespective of what happens in their closing group game.
The nine-time European champions` win was all the more noteworthy given they had to play the bulk of the game with 10 men after Sergio Ramos was sent off.
"I think we played very well in the second-half when we had a player less," said Real coach Carlo Ancelotti.
"We played with courage, personality and very well generally. To play with 10 men is not always easy, but all the players worked together."
PSG also lost a man, Marco Verratti leaving the pitch with the second half barely begun, but the French champions held firm to see off Olympiakos 2-1 and finish as Group C winners.
Their star Swedish striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic celebrated his 100th Champions League appearance with the opener.
Kostas Manolas drew the Greeks level with nine minutes remaining only for PSG to seal the win with Edinson Cavani`s 90th minute strike.
"We didn`t manage to finish the job against Anderlecht so we wanted to do so here," said coach Laurent Blanc.
Olympiakos are now in a fight with Benfica, 3-2 winners at Anderlecht, for second place.
On a snow-covered pitch in Russia, Bayern Munich set a new competition record when they defeated CSKA Moscow 3-1 for their tenth successive Champions League win, bettering the old mark set by Barcelona in 2002.
Arjen Robben, one of the scorers, reflecting on Bayern`s latest record, said: "We have often said that we don`t play for these records, we play to win titles.
"But we have a great team and I`m proud to be part of it. It`s a fantastic achievement to win 10 consecutive games in Europe, especially if you consider that we also played Barcelona and then Dortmund in the final on the way."
Bayern top Group D on 15 points, three more than Manchester City, who beat Viktoria Plzen, with Alvaro Negredo coming off the bench to inspire a 4-2 win after Manuel Pellegrini`s side twice squandered the lead.
"I`m satisfied because we won but I think we didn`t play well. We didn`t play with the intensity we have showed here in the past," commented Pellegrini. AFP --------------------------- ZEENEWS.com