Arsenal secured qualification through the group stage for a 14th successive season despite going down 2-0 to Napoli whilst Chelsea also progressed after beating Steaua Bucharest 1-0.
Arsenal knew heading into their match in Naples they would be sure of a place in the knockout stages should they avoid a defeat by three goals or less.
Gonzalo Higuain gave the Italian side the lead with a well executed finish after 73 minutes before Mikel Arteta saw red for two bookings. Jose Callejon added a second in the final seconds meaning the Gunners just went through.
Arsene Wenger’s side were unable to keep their place at the top of Group F after defeat to Rafael Benitez’s Napoli as Borussia Dortmund qualified as group winners courtesy of a late Kevin Grosskeutz goal against Marseille.
Last season’s runners-up, Dortmund, were starring at elimination from the competition after Souleymane Diawara had cancelled out an early Robert Lewandowski effort.
However, after Grosskreutz popped up with the winning goal, Dortmund moved from third to first in the final group standings.
As for Jose Mourinho and Chelsea, they were able to win their group seeing off Steaua Bucharest, who have now set a record going 23 matches without a win, to top the group.
A single goal for Demba Ba after just ten minutes was enough for Chelsea to go through as group winners. Going into the match Jose Mourinho’s side knew they were coming up against the side certain of finishing bottom which saw Mourinho make seven changes, most notably handing a Champions League debut to 41-year-old Mark Schwarzer.
Schalke will join the Blues in progressing through the Group E after seeing off FC Basel 2-0 in Gelsenkirchen.
The Germans went into the tie behind their Swiss counterparts in the standings knowing their fate was in their own hands in terms of qualification. Julian Draxler and Joel Matip got the goals that ensured the German outfit would feature in the knockout stages for third time in four seasons.
Celtic, who were already out, suffered a heavy 6-1 defeat against Barcelona in the Nou Camp.
The Bhoys were already aware they were unable to qualify prior to the trip to the Catalans who were themselves assured of top spot ahead of kick-off.
Goals from Pique and Pedro were followed by a hat-trick from Neymar, Celtic’s tormentor-in-chief, before Christian Tello added a sixth.
Georgios Samaras added to his personal Nou Camp tally in the 89th minute meaning he’s now scored at the Nou Camp in successive campaigns.
The other match in Group H ended 0-0 in the San Siro as Ajax were unable to get the win they needed to move above AC Milan and qualify.
Group G finished with Atletico Madrid keeping their unbeaten record intact seeing off FC Porto 2-0 and prevent the Portuguese team a place in the last 16 as Raul Garcia and Diego Costa got on the scoresheet.
Austria Vienna won their first match in the competition 4-1 against Zenit after coming back from a goal behind.
Aleksandr Kerzhakov scored first before Philip Hosiner scored a brace either side of a Tomas Jun goal with Jun’s replacement Roman Kienast completing the scoring.
Due to Porto’s loss in Madrid it means that Zenit still progress as group runners-up and due to goal difference Vienna are unable to move above Porto into third which will mean Porto will enter the Europa League.
After Galatasaray against Juventus was suspended on Tuesday night due to snowfall, the Group B match was replayed on Wednesday afternoon. The crunch tie that saw the winner progress and loser dumped into the Europa League ended in Roberto Mancini’s side’s favour as Wesley Sneijder scored the decisive goal five minutes from time.
Performance of the Night
Qualification from and pole position in Group H may have already been confirmed before a ball was kicked tonight, but tonight Tata Martino’s team gave a gentle reminder that they are still major contenders for the trophy this time around. Though Celtic may not be the most testing opponents that will play at the Nou Camp this season the result looks even more impressive when you remember neither Lionel Messi nor Andres Iniesta featured.
Player of the Night
The Brazilian arrived at Barcelona in the summer with a few critics over as to whether he could perform on the highest stage in European competition. But the young Brazilian has adapted well and tonight saw him net his first Champions League hat-trick and on tonight’s viewing you wouldn’t bet against him doing it again this season.
This article was written for shoot.co.uk and first appeared at: http://www.shoot.co.uk/round-up-champions-league-10/ on 12/12/2013