London: Holders Chelsea are walking a tightrope after a crushing 3-0 defeat by Juventus, at the Champions League, on Tuesday.
Valencia and last season’s runners-up Bayern Munich advanced from Group F with a 1-1 draw in the Mestalla. Galatasaray earned a 1-0 victory in a hard-fought battle with a young Manchester United side, snatching the win through a Burak Yilmaz header in their Group H game.
The victory boosted Galatasaray’s hopes of reaching the knockout stage, putting them in second place in the group, behind United who had already qualified after four wins in their first four matches.
Burak put the Turkish champions ahead in the 53rd minute, heading into the top left corner above the head of Rafael after Felipe Melo had gone close seconds earlier and won a corner.
Hamit Altintop just failed to double Galatasaray’s lead in the 78th minute with a powerful shot, which flew off the crossbar.
United, knowing qualification was already assured, rested a number of senior players including Wayne Rooney, Rio Ferdinand, Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes, David De Gea and Robin van Persie.
In their final match on December 5, Galatasaray, who are ahead of CFR Cluj on goal difference, will play Braga. The Portuguese side, who lost 3-1 to Cluj, are already out of the competition on three points.
Free-scoring Shakhtar Donetsk beat Nordsjaelland 5-2 with a controversial Luiz Adriano hat-trick smoothing their progress from Group E.
The Brazilian seemed unaware that his teammate Willian was playing the ball back to the Danish side’s ’keeper following an injury and pounced to score his first goal sparking jeers and whistles from the crowd and angering the incredulous home side.
Messi’s brace for Barcelona, in their 3-0 victory against Spartak Moscow, took his tally in Europe’s flagship club competition to 56, equal second on the all-time scorers’ list with Dutchman Ruud van Nistelrooy, as the Catalans gu-aranteed top spot in Group G.
They are vying with CFR Cluj for the runners-up spot in Group H after the Romanians beat Braga 3-1 with a first-half hat-trick from Rui Pedro doing the damage.
Juventus are favourites to join Shakhtar in the last 16 after a 3-0 defeat of Chelsea to move second in Group E.
A draw for the Italians in Ukraine in a fortnight would mean Chelsea having the dubious distinction of becoming the first defending champions to exit at the group stage.
Fabio Quagliarella gave Juventus a 38th minute lead with a deflected shot and Arturo Vidal’s second half effort was also diverted past Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech on the hour.
Sebastian Giovinco rounded off a dazzling performance from Juventus with a breakaway third in stoppage time.
“We said before the game that we have our destiny in our hands, not any more,” Chelsea keeper Petr Cech said.
“Now we need to do our bit, we need to win our last game and hope our fate is kind. Being realistic Juventus played very well. It’s a very sad moment.”
Chelsea coach Roberto Di Matteo left striker Fernando Torres out of the starting lineup but his plan backfired.
After their shock defeat at Celtic, Barcelona rediscovered their verve with a comfortable victory as Spartak’s artificial surface proved perfect for their passing game.
Messi scored his 79th and 80th goals of 2012 in the first half and is closing in on Gerd Mueller’s calendar year record of 85 set in 1975. Dani Alves had opened the scoring for Barca. “We couldn’t allow what happened at Celtic to happen again,” said Messi.
While Barca have an unassailable 12 points, the runners-up spot is in the balance after Benfica beat Celtic 2-1, meaning they both have seven points with one game left.
Scottish champions Celtic were 20 minutes away from the score draw that would have put them through along with the Spaniards before Argentine Ezequiel Garay struck the winner on a night of torrential rain in Lisbon.
Celtic host Spartak in their final group game knowing they will have to better Benfica’s result against Barcelona.
Valencia were already certain of a last 16 place before they even kicked off against Bayern Munich after BATE Borisov’s 2-0 loss to Lille in an earlier kick-off.
Thomas Mueller’s late equaliser for Bayern then spared the German club a nervy final night in the group stage as a draw was enough to put them out of reach of BATE. (Reuters)