Big guns through to last 16

Inter Milan, Barca and Stuttgart through to Champions League knockout stages.

    Inter players celebrate as Rubin Kazan head to the Europa League [AFP]
    Defending champions Barcelona booked a Champions League last 16 berth with a 2-1 win at Dynamo Kiev and were joined by Group F rivals Inter Milan, who sealed their passage with a 2-0 home defeat of Rubin Kazan.

    VfB Stuttgart also went through after an early three-goal blitz gave them a 3-1 win over Romanians Unirea Urziceni, as did Greek champions Olympiakos Piraeus who beat already qualified Arsenal 1-0 at home.

    Olympique Lyon thumped Hungarian rivals Debrecen 4-0 but finished second in Group E behind Fiorentina, who came from behind in a 2-1 win at Liverpool, who had already been eliminated.

    "At this club you try to stay in the big tournaments as long as possible, but it's gone now,'' Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard said.

    Dominant Messi

    Barcelona were in danger of making an early exit after Artem Milevskiy's glancing header gave Dynamo a second-minute lead but Spain midfielder Xavi dispelled their fears when he rounded off a flowing team move shortly after the half-hour.

    Fifa World Player of the Year Lionel Messi completed the comeback in the 86th minute, when he gave goalkeeper Olexandr Shovkovskiy no chance with a curling free kick.

    CL results

    Tuesday December 8

    Juventus 1-4 Bayern Munich
    Maccabi Haifa 0-1 Bordeaux
    Wolfsburg 1-3 Man Utd
    Besiktas 1-2 CSKA Moscow
    FC Zurich 1-1 AC Milan
    Marseille 1-3 Real Madrid
    Chelsea 2-2 Apoel Nicosia
    Atletico Madrid 0-3 Porto

    Wednesday December 9

    Liverpool 1-2 Fiorentina
    Lyon 4-0 Debrecen
    Inter Milan 2-0 Rubin Kazan
    Dynamo Kiev 1-2 Barcelona
    Stuttgart 3-1 Unirea Urziceni
    Sevilla 1-0 Rangers
    Olympiakos 1-0 Arsenal
    Standard Liege 1-1 Alkmaar

    Mario Balotelli set up strike partner Samuel Eto'o with a clever back-heel for Inter's opening goal at the San Siro and then sealed their win with a thunderous free kick on the hour.

    Rubin, who sealed their second successive Russian league title last month, will carry on in the Europa League after the winter break along with the other seven third-placed teams from the continent's premier club competition.

    A Leonardo solo effort shortly after the break gave Olympiakos their Group H win against a second-string Arsenal side, with Standard Liege securing third place thanks to a last-gasp 1-1 home draw against AZ Alkmaar.

    Goalkeeper Sinan Bolat scored Standard's equaliser in the fifth minute of injury time after the visitors had taken a first-half lead through Jeremain Lens.

    With Standard's European campaign seconds from ending, Bolat sprinted forward for a last-second free kick and headed powerfully past Sergio Romero.

    "This is crazy, I still can't believe it,'' Bolat said.

    "I thought I'll take a chance and head upfield.''

    Sevilla top

    Sevilla made sure of the top spot in Group G ahead of Stuttgart after a Frederic Kanoute penalty handed them a 1-0 home win over Rangers.

    Real Madrid, AC Milan and Bayern Munich, European champions a total 20 times between them, advanced alongside CSKA Moscow after their final group matches on Tuesday.

    Manchester United, Bordeaux, Chelsea and FC Porto are the other teams in the draw for the next round, which will take place in Nyon, Switzerland, on December 18.

    The draw for the round of 32 in the Europa League will take place the same day.

    SOURCE: Reuters


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