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Drogba takes Chelsea into knockout round

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BACK WITH A BANG: Chelsea’s Didier Drogba (left), back after a three-match suspension, played brilliantly to score twice against Atletico Madrid on Tuesday.
BACK WITH A BANG: Chelsea’s Didier Drogba (left), back after a three-match suspension, played brilliantly to score twice against Atletico Madrid on Tuesday.

Manchester United, Porto and Bordeaux also qualify; Bayern on brink of elimination

PARIS: Didier Drogba scored twice on his return from a three-match European suspension as Chelsea drew 2-2 at Atletico Madrid to seal its place in the knockout round of the Champions League on Tuesday.

It was joined in the last 16 by Manchester United, Porto and Girondins Bordeaux, although four-time European champion Bayern Munich is on the brink of elimination after losing at home to the French champion.

Maccabi Haifa, Besiktas, Apoel Nicosia and Atletico were all eliminated, but could yet finish third in their respective groups and go into the Europa League.

There was high drama in almost every one of Tuesday’s eight matches with a flood of late goals and a superb 1-1 draw between European giant AC Milan and Real Madrid.

The Group ‘C’ clash between the famous old rivals, who have won the European Cup 16 times between them, was somewhat overshadowed with neither side able to advance.

The draw left both on seven points from four matches, just one ahead of Olympique Marseille, which crushed FC Zurich 6-1.

Dramatic recovery

The most dramatic recovery came at Old Trafford where Manchester United scored twice in the last 10 minutes to force a 3-3 draw with CSKA Moscow, and stretch its unbeaten home Champions League record to 23 matches, and earn a place in the last 16.

But individual honours belonged to Chelsea’s Ivorian striker Drogba. Having missed Chelsea’s three Group ‘D’ wins, Drogba returned to the side and scored two excellent goals — the first after 82 minutes cancelled out Sergio Aguero’s 66th-minute volley and the second put his side 2-1 ahead in the dying minutes.

A night to remember

Although Aguero scored again to give Atletico a draw, Drogba had a night to remember against Spanish opposition for the right reasons.

Chelsea, with 10 points from four games, advanced from Group ‘D’ with Porto, which won 1-0 at Apoel Nicosia with Falcao scoring the winner six minutes from time.

Manchester United, seeking to reach the final for the third successive season, sealed a place in the last 16 the hard way.

It needed two late goals — from Paul Scholes and a deflected Antonio Valencia effort off the head of Georgy Shchennikov — to force a draw with CSKA Moscow in Group ‘B’ after trailing 3-1 with less than 10 minutes to play.

The Russians, playing under coach Leonid Slutsky for only the second time following the departure of Spanish coach Juande Ramos last week, raced to a 3-1 lead with goals from Alan Dzagoyev, Milos Krasic and Vasily Berezutsky after 47 minutes.

But United, which had scored through Michael Owen after 29 minutes, grabbed a point after relentless late pressure eventually paid off.

It was a bad night for Bayern, which went down 2-0 to Bordeaux after goals from Yoann Gourcuff in the first half and Marouane Chamakh just before the end.

With Bordeaux advancing from Group ‘A’ with 10 points and Juventus moving on to eight with a 1-0 win at Haifa, the Munich side, which has just four points, faces a battle to qualify with a home match against Haifa and a visit to Juventus remaining.

The results:

Group A: Bayern Munich 0 lost to Bordeaux 2 (Gourcuff 37, Chamakh 89); Maccabi Haifa 0 lost to Juventus 1 (Camoranesi 45+2).

Group B: Manchester United 3 (Owen 29, Scholes 84, Valencia 90+2) drew with CSKA Moscow 3 (Dzagoev 25, Krasic 31, V. Berezutsky 47); Besiktas 0 lost to VfL Wolfsburg 3 (Misimovic 14, Gentner 80, Dzeko 87).

Group C: AC Milan (ITA) 1 (Ronaldinho 35-pen) drew with Real Madrid 1 (Benzema 29); Marseille 6 (Aegerter 3-o.g., Abriel 11, Niang 52, Hilton 80, Cheyrou 87, Brandao 90) bt FC Zurich 1 (Alphonse 31).

Group D: Apoel Nicosia 0 lost to FC Porto 1 (Radamel Falcao Garcia 84); Atletico Madrid 2 (Aguero 66, 90) drew with Chelsea 2 (Drogba 82, 88).

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