With two games to spare, two Champions League groups have their qualifiers for the knockout stages.
To Group A first, where Arsenal made very hard work of it against Ludogorets, in complete contrast with the comfortable 6-0 a fortnight ago. Goals from Jonathan Cafu and Claudiu Keseru had the home side 2-0 in front after just 15 minutes, but Arsne Wenger’s side battled hard and had clawed their way back to 2-2 by half time thanks to goals from Granit Xhaka and Olivier Giroud.
The best was yet to come, however, as with the clock ticking away, Mesut Özil scored a terrific individual goal to ensure victory and keep Arsenal in top spot in the group.
In the group’s other game, Paris Saint-Germain also left it late against FC Basel. Blaise Matuidi had the away side in front just before half time, but when Luca Zuffi equalised with fifteen minutes remaining, it looked like PSG would have to settled for a draw. However, up popped right-back Thomas Meunier right at the death with an outstanding long-range volley to claim all three points.
Qualified For Next Round: Arsenal, Paris Saint-Germain
Europa League: FC Basel or Ludogorets
? In all the excitement we almost forgot to confirm…
We’re safely into the next round – and sitting top of Group A pic.twitter.com/Szm8qHggBO
— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) November 1, 2016
To Group B next, where Napoli’s position of dominance in the group has been dramatically shot down with one point from their last two games. They took on Besiktas in Istanbul in an early kick-off, and although a Ricardo Quaresma looked to have condemned Maurizio Sarri’s side to another defeat, Marek Hamsik rescued a point with a late strike eight minutes from time.
In the group’s other game, Benfica guaranteed a Europa League place with a 1-0 win against Dynamo Kiev, courtesy of an Eduardo Salvio penalty on the stroke of half-time.
Guaranteed Europa League At Least: Benfica
Group B standings after 4 games. pic.twitter.com/Eo7bAWthCI
— Planet Benfica (@planetbenfica) November 1, 2016
In Group C, Manchester City atoned for the 4-0 drubbing they received from Barcelona two weeks ago as Pep Guardiola finally got the chance to outplay his old side. Lionel Messi had Barca in front after 20 minutes with a fantastic counter-attacking goal, but they were pegged back just before half time as Ilkay Gundogan finished off a classy team move.
Man City stormed back into the game in the second half, and a top-class free-kick from Kevin De Bruyne and a second from Gundogan gave the home side a 3-1 win that was fully deserved.
In the group’s other game, Celtic just about kept up their hopes of qualifying for the Europa League with a 1-1 draw at Borussia Monchengladbach. A Moussas Dembélé penalty with fifteen minutes remaining cancelled out a first half effort from Lars Stindl.
Guaranteed Europa League At Least: Barcelona
— Manchester City (@ManCity) November 1, 2016
Finally to Group D, which is also all over bar the shouting. Atlético Madrid stay on top of the group after a hard-fought win against Rostov. Atoine Griezmann scored an acrobatic effort on the half-hour mark, only to see his effort cancelled out immediately by Sardar Azmoun. However, neither Griezmann nor Atléti were to be denied, and the French international scored three minutes into injury time to claim the win.
In the group’s other game, Bayern Munich came from a goal down at PSV to seal their place in the last 16. Santiago Arias had the home side in front after just fifteen minutes, but Robert Lewandowski, scoring his 18th and 19th goals in his last 17 games for club and country, turned the game around for Carlo Ancelotti’s side either side of half time.
Qualified For Next Round: Atlético Madrid, Bayern Munich
Europa League: PSV or Rostov