FOOTBALL / Schalke tops Group B ahead of Arsenal; Real Madrid eases to victory
English champion Manchester City and rival Arsenal both slumped to defeats in their final Champions League football group matches on Tuesday leaving City without even the consolation of a Europa League spot and the Gunners failing to top their group and facing a tough Last 16 draw.
City bowed out with a listless performance in a 1-0 defeat away to a largely second string Borussia Dortmund side, which topped the group, while City finished bottom with three points. It was the first time that an English side finished a Champions League group stage with just three points and without a victory.
Ajax took the Europa League place despite losing 4-1 away at Real Madrid.
Arsenal let slip a 1-0 lead to lose 2-1 away at Olympiakos, which secured a deserved Europa League place while German outfit Schalke 04’s 1-1 draw away at Montpellier ensured it edged out Arsenal for top spot.
That will only increase the pressure on the English side’s previously untouchable manager Arsene Wenger with its domestic title hopes already all but over as it trails leader Manchester United by 15 points.
Dinamo Zagreb’s Ivan Krstanovic gave his team its only point of the group phase with a penalty five minutes into time for a 1-1 draw with Dynamo Kiev.
Zenit beats Milan
In the other group the only outstanding issue was settled as Russian side Zenit St. Petersburg withstood enormous pressure from already qualified seven-time champion AC Milan to win 1-0 away in Italy and take third place and a Europa League spot at the expense of Anderlecht.
Manchester City was undone by Julian Schieber, who crowned his first Champions League appearance of the season to score Dortmund’s winner when he slotted home from a brilliant low cross by Polish star Jakub Blaszczykowski in the 57th minute.
Klopp made six changes to his line-up compared to the team’s weekend draw at Bundesliga leader Bayern Munich with Oliver Kirch and Felipe Santana replacing Lukasz Piszczek and Neven Subotic in the backline; as well as Moritz Leitner, Kevin Grosskreutz, Ivan Perisic and Schieber coming on for Jakub Blaszczykowski, Sven Bender, Mario Goetze and Robert Lewandowski.
City swapped three players as Matija Nastasic, Scott Sinclair and Javi Garcia were on for Aleksandar Kolarov, David Silva and Yaya Toure.
Real Madrid eased to victory over Ajax with Brazilian star Kaka’s superb effort making him the most prolific all-time Brazilian scorer in the Champions League with 28 edging ahead of fellow 2002 World Cup winner Rivaldo.
Arsenal’s hopes of keeping its 1-0 lead to the end — thanks to Tomas Rosicky’s first goal since March — never looked likely as it had failed to keep a clean sheet on its five previous visits to Greece.
Sure enough goals in the second-half by Giannis Maniatis and substitute Kostas Mitroglu ensured the host gained a second successive home win over its opponent, having beaten it 3-1 at the same stage last season.
The results: Group A: At Zagreb: Dinamo Zagreb 1 (Krstanovic 90+5-pen) drew with Dynamo Kiev 1 (Yarmolenko 45+1). At Paris: Paris Saint Germain 2 (Silva 29, Lavezzi 61) bt Porto 1 (J. Martinez 33).
Group B: At Montpellier: Montpellier 1 (Herrera 59) drew with Schalke 04 1 (Howedes 56). At Athens: Olympiakos 2 (Maniatis 64, Mitroglou 73) bt Arsenal 1 (Rosicky 38).
Group C: At Malaga: Malaga 2 (Duda 45, Buonanotte 61) drew with Anderlecht 2 (Jovanovic 50, Mbokani 89). At Milan: AC Milan 0 lost to Zenit St. Petersburg 1 (Danny 35).
Group D: At Dortmund: Borussia Dortmund 1 (Schieber 57) bt Manchester City 0. At Madrid: Real Madrid 4 (Ronaldo 13, Callejon 28, 88, Kaka 49) bt Ajax 1 (Boerrigter 60). — Agencies