FOOTBALL / Defending champ's exit marks shortest title defence ever; Juve, Celtic through
Exactly 200 days after winning the Champions League football, Chelsea lost its grip on the trophy to mark the shortest title defence in the competition’s history.
Juventus eliminated the reigning champion by beating Shakhtar Donetsk 1-0 on Wednesday, with Galatasaray and Celtic also qualifying for the last 16 in a thrilling final round of group-stage matches.
Chelsea needed to better Juventus’ result in Ukraine to finish second in Group E, and kept its part of the bargain by thrashing FC Nordsjaelland 6-1.
Chelsea’s win gave interim coach Rafael Benitez — who has received a less than warm reception by the fans since he replaced Roberto di Matteo — his first win in four games at the Stamford Bridge helm.
“The other game was out of our hands, so we couldn’t do anything about it,” said Benitez, who will not have enjoyed seeing some Chelsea fans holding up posters of another former Chelsea manager, Jose Mourinho, imploring him to return.
It was in vain, however, as Olexander Kucher’s own goal earned Juventus victory and top spot ahead of Shakhtar.
Cluj stuns United
Galatasaray beat Braga 2-1 to finish ahead of CFR Cluj, which won 1-0 at below-strength Manchester United through a Dos Santos goal, in Group H.
Celtic defeated Spartak Moscow 2-1 in Group G thanks to a controversial late penalty to oust Benfica, whose 0-0 draw at Barcelona was marred by a left knee injury to Lionel Messi.
Bayern Munich topped Group F by thrashing BATE Borisov 4-1.
Group E: At London: Chelsea 6 (Luiz 38-pen, Torres 45+2, 56, Cahill 51, Mata 63, Oscar 71) bt Nordsjaelland 1 (John 46). At Donetsk: Shakhtar Donetsk 0 lost to Juventus 1 (Kucher 56-og).
Group F: At Munich: Bayern Munich 4 (Gomez 21, Mueller 54, Shaqiri 66, Alaba 83) bt BATE Borisov 1 (Filipenko 89). At Lille: Lille 0 lost to Valencia 1 (Jonas 36-pen).
Group G: At Barcelona: Barcelona 0 drew with Benfica 0. At Glasgow: Celtic 2 (Hooper 21, Commons 82-pen) bt Spartak Moscow 1 (Ari 39).
Group H: At Braga: Braga 1 (Mossoro 32) lost to Galatasaray 2 (Yilmaz 58, 78). At Manchester: Manchester United 0 lost to CFR Cluj 1 (Dos Santos 56). — Agencies