Celtic, Galatasaray make it back to Champions League knockout stage
Celtic proud and 2nd
GLASGOW — Kris Commons smashed home a controversial late penalty to earn Celtic a 2-1 victory over Spartak Moscow and a place in the Champions League's knockout stage for the first time since 2008.
The Scottish champions started the match level on points with Benfica in Group G but leapfrogged the Portuguese side, which could only draw 0-0 at Barcelona in the final round of group matches.
With its match standing at 0-0 after 81 minutes, Celtic was heading out of the competition, only for Giorgos Samaras to fall easily under the challenge of Kirill Kombarov. Commons' penalty went in off the crossbar.
Already-eliminated Spartak cancelled out Gary Hooper's 21st-minute opener when Ari clipped home a lovely finish six minutes before halftime. Kim Kallstrom was sent off late on for the visitors.
Benfica can't get it done
BARCELONA — Lionel Messi was carried off on a stretcher with an apparent knee injury as Barcelona was held to 0-0 by Benfica at Camp Nou in the Champions League on Wednesday.
Messi, who went on as a reserve in the 58th minute, collided with Benfica goalkeeper Artur in the 85th and was in obvious pain from his left knee.
Messi is only one goal short of tying Gurd Mueller's 40-year-old record for most goals in a calendar year.
Benfica looked the sharper side in the first half, while Barcelona dominated in the second. Barcelona had already qualified for the knockout phase.
Juve beats Shakhtar, both move on
DONETSK, Ukraine — Juventus advanced to the knockout stages of the Champions League by winning 1-0 at Shakhtar Donetsk to clinch top spot in Group E.
The Italian champions only had to avoid defeat to progress, and an own goal by Shakhtar defender Olexander Kucher from Juventus right back Stephan Lichtsteiner's low cross into the box in the 56th minute made sure of qualification.
The result means that Chelsea became the first defending champion to exit at the group stage despite thrashing Nordsjaelland 6-1.
Juventus finished with 12 points, two more than Shakhtar and Chelsea. The Ukrainian club went through due to a better head-to-head record. The Blues will instead play in the Europa League.
Shakhtar found it difficult to penetrate Juventus' back three defence, with the Italian side making numerous precise interceptions.
Too late for Chelsea
LONDON — Fernando Torres rediscovered his goal-scoring touch too late for Chelsea's Champions League hopes on Wednesday, with the English side becoming the first holders to exit at the group stage despite a 6-1 thrashing of FC Nordsjaelland.
On a bittersweet night for Chelsea, Torres ended a month-long goal drought by scoring twice in a match for the first time this season.
Chelsea went ahead in a frenzied spell in which both sides miss penalties before David Luiz scored from the spot in the 39th minute. Torres netted in first-half stoppage time.
Although Joshua John pulled one back for Nordsjaelland 20 seconds after the break, Gary Cahill began Chelsea's second-half goal spree with a header. Torres drove in his second before Juan Mata and Oscar added goals.
Bayern Munich takes group
MUNICH — Bayern Munich beat BATE Borisov 4-1 to make sure of winning Group F and being seeded in the knockout stage.
Both teams finished with 10 men but Bayern managed to score twice while it was down a player.
Mario Gomez put Bayern ahead in the 22nd minute, before last season's runner-up lost defender Jerome Boateng to a straight red card in the 51st. But Thomas Mueller and Xherdan Shaqiri added goals before BATE was also reduced to 10 men with the second booking for Denis Polyakov in the 69th.
David Alaba scored for Bayern in the 83rd before Yegor Filipenko netted a consolation goal for the Belarus side in the 89th.
Bayern finished ahead of Valencia, while BATE qualified for Europa League.
Valencia 2nd in group
LILLE, France — Brazilian striker Jonas scored from the penalty spot as Valencia won 1-0 away to Lille in the Champions League on Wednesday, although it was not enough to guarantee top spot in Group F because Bayern Munich also won.
Bayern, which thrashed BATE Borisov 4-1, finished top of the group because of a superior head to head record with Valencia — beating the Spanish club at home and drawing away.
Lille finished in last place behind Belarusian club BATE and failed to qualify for the knockout stage for the second straight season.
Jonas, who scored both goals when Valencia beat Lille 2-0 at home in October, scored from the spot in the 36th minute after being fouled by Lille defender Marko Basa.
The French club went close to equalizing late on.
Galatasaray break 11-year drought
BRAGA, Portugal — A late goal by Aydin Yilmaz gave Galatasaray a 2-1 win over Braga and sent the Turkish club into the Champions League knockout stage for the first time in 11 years on Wednesday.
Galatasaray was level on points with Cluj going into the last Group H games and needed a win in Portugal to beat the Romanian club to second place and advance behind group winner Manchester United.
Galatasaray and Cluj each have 10 points but the Turkish club has head-to-head advantage.
Braga finished bottom of the group and went out of continental competition.
Yilmaz scored the winner in the 78th, 20 minutes after Burak Yilmaz equalized.
Marcio Mossoro broke the deadlock in the 32nd with a low shot from the edge of the area.
Clij's win for naught
MANCHESTER — CFR Cluj beat a below-strength Manchester United 1-0 thanks to Luis Alberto's fabulous second-half strike but was denied a spot in the last 16 of the Champions League by Galatasaray's victory in Braga on Wednesday.
The unheralded Romanian side finished Group H level on 10 points with Galatasaray, which won 2-1 in Portugal, but behind the Turkish team courtesy of the head-to-head record.
Cluj will still head into the Europa League as third-place finisher in good heart after a surprise win at Old Trafford, with Luis Alberto sending a swerving 25-yard shot high into the net in the 56th minute.
United played a virtual reserve team with first place guaranteed, and paid the price despite dominating most of the match.