| Arsenal’s Ashley Cole (left) in an aerial duel with Dynamo Kiev’s Sergiy Fedorov in London on Wednesday. (AFP)
London: Monaco thrashed Deportivo La Coruna 8-3 in the highest scoring match in Champions League history on Wednesday while Juventus became the second team to qualify for the knockout phase.
Juventus, last season’s beaten finalists, joined Real Madrid in the last 16 after a 0-0 draw at Real Sociedad but elsewhere the goals flew in.
Monaco’s victory was the highest scoring match in elite European competition for 23 years and the highest since the Champions League started 11 years ago.
There had previously been only one 8-3 result when Lokomotiv Sofia beat Malmo in the 1964-65 European Cup first round.
No other team in the Champions League had scored eight goals in one match before either. Monaco’s Croatian striker Dado Prso celebrated his 29th birthday with four goals — only the third player in Champions League history to do that after after Marco van Basten did for AC Milan against IFK Gothenburg in 1992 and Simone Inzaghi for Lazio against Olympique Marseille in 2000.
There was also a shock 1-2 home defeat for Bayern Munich against Olympique Lyon, a late crucial 1-0 win for Arsenal over Dynamo Kiev and an outstanding 3-1 win for Celtic over Anderlecht which revived the Scottish champions hopes of reaching the last 16.
“It’s difficult to grasp,” said Monaco coach Didier Deschamps. It’s the sort of thing that is unthinkable. “I’m very happy, it feels great,” said Prso. Monaco lead the group with nine points followed by Deportivo on seven and PSV Eindhoven six. PSV beat AEK Athens 2- 0 on Wednesday.
The French league leaders led 5-2 at halftime against a hapless Deportivo defence which committed a stream of errors and could not deal with the pace and vision of Ludovic Giuly and Jerome Rothen.
Prso’s was the second fastest Champions League hattrick after Mike Newell’s for Blackburn versus Rosenborg in 1996.
Deportivo took shell-shocked keeper Jose Molina off at the break but his replacement Gustavo Munua picked the ball out of the net twice within five minutes as Prso scored again and Jaroslav Plasil added a seventh. Diego Tristan, one of the few Deportivo players to shine, scored his second in the 52nd minute but Edouard Cisse made it 8-3 in front of a disbelieving Monaco crowd, including Prince Rainier.
The victory was even more astonishing as Fernando Morientes, the pivot of the Monaco side this season, failed a fitness test and watched the game with his former Real Madrid teammate Raul from the stands.Juventus’ 0-0 draw with Real Sociedad, combined with Galatasaray’s 0-3 defeat away to Olympiakos, means that the Italians, who lost out on penalties to Serie A rivals AC Milan in last season’s final, cannot now finish lower than second in the group. An under-strength Juventus were put under severe pressure for most of the match by a much-improved Sociedad but held out for a draw thanks to a fine display from goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon.
Arsenal snatched a lifeline when their England defender Ashley Cole headed a late goal to seal a dramatic 1-0 Group B victory over Dynamo Kiev at Highbury. The Premier League leaders, beaten 1-2 in Kiev a fortnight ago, looked destined for a humiliating European exit until Cole nodded home in the 88th minute.
In Munich, Giovane Elber enjoyed a dream return to his former club as he scored Olympique Lyon’s winner over Bayern Munich. The Brazilian striker, let loose in Munich’s Olympic Stadium, slotted in from a tight angle with his left foot after 53 minutes to put the French champions top of Group A.
Roy Makaay’s fourth goal in as many Champions League games was not enough for the four-times European champions who had the lion’s share of possession, but failed to hold the counter-attacking visitors.
Inter Milan were held to a 1-1 draw at home by Lokomotiv Moscow after a goal from Dmitry Loskov cancelled out Alvaro Recoba’s first-half opener for the Italians.
In Glasgow, Celtic beat Anderlecht 3-1. In Eindhoven, PSV Eindhoven beat AEK Athens 2-0.