Friday, June 14, 2024

Real advance as draw eliminates Man City


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MANCHESTER: Real Madrid called on the experience of nearly 60 years of European competition which has brought them a record nine European Cups as they ushered Manchester City through the exit door of the Champions League on Wednesday.

Madrid boss Jose Mourinho, who was celebrating his 100th Champions League match as a coach, saw his team draw 1-1 to secure their place in the last 16 from Group D and leave his old Italian adversary Roberto Mancini ruing what might have been for his Champions League novices.

The only group to feature four national champions will end with Borussia Dortmund and Real advancing, and Ajax Amsterdam and City going either into the Europa League or out completely.

City were eliminated at the group stage for a second successive season and the gulf in class was obvious from the start.

Real could have scored six times in the first 45 minutes against a high-value side playing in only their 11th Champions League match since their debut last season, but produced just one goal when Karim Benzema lost his defender Maicon, found himself unmarked and in space two metres out and fired home.

City got a goal back when Sergio Aguero sent his penalty past Casillas with 17 minutes left after Alvaro Arbeloa had been sent off for a foul on the Argentine.

City had to win this match and their remaining game in Dortmund to have any chance of qualifying but that was always a long shot and never really looked likely once Real took an early grip.

Real’s only disappointment might be qualifying as runners-up in the group after Dortmund grabbed top spot with a 4-1 win at Ajax.

“We wanted to fight for first place but it was not to be but the important thing is that we are through,” Casillas said in an interview.

Meanwhile, in London, Jack Wilshere’s first goal for two years and a net-bulging Lukas Podolski thunderbolt earned Arsenal a 2-0 win over Montpellier and fired the Gunners into the last 16 with a game to spare.

Wilshere’s finish shortly after halftime and the signs of a partnership developing between Podolski and Olivier Giroud made it a satisfying evening for manager Arsene Wenger who has now led his side into the last 16 for the 13th consecutive season.

Podolski scored with a superb volley just past the hour and Arsenal moved to 10 points, one behind Group B leaders Schalke whose 1-0 defeat of Olympiakos ensured that the London club qualified for the knockout rounds.

“We needed two good results, our result and the Schalke result, and we got them so we are happy,” Wenger said. (Reuters)


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