Stoppage Time – International Football Blog

Russia: Gazprom turn up heat as cup holders CSKA exit

Posted in European Football by peterbein on July 18, 2011
CSKA Moscow

Defending cup holders CSKA are out of this year's competition

CSKA Moscow, defending title holders of the Russian Cup, have been sensationally knocked out of this year’s competition having gone down to a 2-1 defeat at the hands of second-tier club Volgar-Gazprom Astrakhan. A goal in the 88th minute from Alan Chochiev ensured that the Army club, who have won six Russian Cups in the last decade, will not retain the title this time around. CSKA’s misery was complete in the 90th minute when Vasili Berezutski was shown a red card.

CSKA’s conquerors will now face FC Fakel Voronezh in the Round of 16 after the latter got the better of another Premier League club FK Krasnodar winning by the odd goal in three. It wasn’t a great day for the city of Krasnodar as its other team, FK Kuban, also lost to a lower league team in the form of Dynamo Bryansk who needed extra-time to see off their more-fancied opponents by a 3-1 score line.

For many of Russia’s traditional big clubs it was business as usual in the Round of 32 with the biggest winners being Dinamo Moscow whose 5-0 win over M. Saransk included a brace from Andrei Karyaka. 2010 cup winners Zenit St Petersburg came through with a 3-2 win over Khimki whilst Spartak Moscow had Welliton to thank as they won 1-0 against FK Istra. Premier League sides Anzhi Makhachkala and Terek Grozny saw off the challenges of Volga Ulyanovsk and FK Nizhny Novgorod respectively but Rubin Kazan, back-to-back Russian Premier League champions in 2008 & 2009, needed a penalty shootout to get past Ural Sverdlovskaya Oblast following a goalless draw between the two sides.

The draw for the Round of 16 stage has been made with the tie of the round being Dinamo Moscow, currently third in the Russian Premier League standings, hosting fifth place Anzhi Makhachkala. Ties are expected to be played in late September.

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UEFA Champions League: Quarter-Final Preview

Posted in European Football by peterbein on March 29, 2010
FC Bayern v Manchester United

FC Bayern München plays Manchester United in a repeat of the 1998-99 UEFA Champions League final

The UEFA Champions League is now at the quarter-final stage and there are four mouth-watering clashes that whet the appetite for the feast of football which lies ahead in the next fortnight. “Stoppage Time – International Football Blog” looks at the current form guide of each pairing of teams involved in the last eight of the competition:

FC BAYERN MÜNCHEN (Germany) v MANCHESTER UNITED (England)

This game brings back memories of United’s famous last-gasp triumph in the 1998-99 UEFA Champions League final where the Red Devils came from behind in second half stoppage time to win a thrilling contest 2-1. FC Bayern have gained revenge since then having knocked United out of this competition at the quarter-final stage in 2000-01, going on to lift the trophy against Valencia CF in that same season. At the moment both teams are, as expected, fighting for their respective national championships with Manchester United topping the English Premier League and FC Bayern just two points behind current leaders FC Schalke 04 in the Bundesliga. However the form of the two teams makes interesting reading as United have won all three of their games (against Fulham FC, Liverpool FC and Bolton Wanderers) since knocking AC Milan out of the Champions League in the Round of 16. In contrast FC Bayern have won only one of their last three league games, losing the last two matches to Eintracht Frankfurt and VfB Stuttgart, although they did reach the DFB Pokal final thanks to a “Traumtor” (dream goal) from Arjen Robben. Two potential classic matches await in this fixture.

OLYMPIQUE LYONNAIS (France) v FC GIRONDINS de BORDEAUX (France)

During the UEFA Champions League draw in Nyon the reaction of Olympique Lyonnais chairman Jean-Michel Aulas said it all when his team were paired with fellow compatriots Girondins de Bordeaux in the last eight of this competition. After he had laughed off the events of the draw ceremony the serious business of preparing for France’s biggest football contest for many years began. This is a match that will grip the French nation as it will be a fascinating duel between the two teams who have won the last eight championships with Girondins having brought OL‘s fantastic run of seven successive championships to an end last season. Domestically Girondins are hanging on to the lead in Ligue 1 by a thread with no fewer than five teams capable of mounting a realistic challenge to their crown and their European opponents will want to remind Laurent Blanc’s men that there will be psychological points to be scored in this match. Olympique Lyonnais lie two points behind the leaders (albeit having played two games more) and will wish to make a statement in this game in order to sew a few seeds of doubt in the heads of the league leaders. Since the Round of 16 stage FC Girondins have only played two matches, winning one in the league against Lille OSC but losing the first domestic silverware of the season last Saturday in the Coupe de la Ligue final against Olympique Marseille. Olympique Lyonnais have a mixed record since they sensationally knocked-out Real Madrid in the last round, taking four points from their last three games.

FC Barcelona v Arsenal FC

Juliano Belletti scored the winning goal for FC Barcelona in the 2005-06 UEFA Champions League final against Arsenal FC

ARSENAL FC (England) v FC BARCELONA (Spain)

There may be more history in the FC Bayern – Manchester United match but this is the match that all football purists everywhere will be looking forward to. Defending European champions FC Barcelona will hope to put Arsène Wenger’s Arsenal FC side to the sword in a repeat of the 2005-06 UEFA Champions League final and a game which brings Gunners legend Thierry Henry back to his old club. He has publicly stated before this game that he will “always be an Arsenal fan” despite him now sporting the famous Blaugrana shirt of the Catalans. There is a reunion of sorts for Arsenal captain Cesc Fàbregas who will return to his boyhood heroes in the second leg fixture at Camp Nou. With both teams playing arguably the most exciting brand of football anywhere in Europe it should be the most technical and skillful of the four quarter-final match-ups. Both teams are in good form domestically since qualifying from the Round of 16 with Barça winning all three of their games against Real Zaragoza, Osasuna and Real Mallorca to keep in touch with eternal rivals Real Madrid CF at the top of La Liga. Arsenal are currently four points behind Premier League leaders Manchester United having dropped two points in their most recent game against Birmingham City following wins against Hull City and West Ham United.

INTERNAZIONALE FC (Italy) v CSKA MOSCOW (Russia)

Both of these teams pulled out amazing victories in the Round of 16 with Jose Mourinho’s Inter disposing of his former club Chelsea FC and Russian side CSKA Moscow knocking out Sevilla FC who were fancied as outside favourites by many people prior to their elimination in this tournament. Both of these teams played each other in the UEFA Champions League as recently as the 2007-08 season with the Italians having the better of their two games in the group stage beating the Army Men 2-1 in Russia and 4-2 in Italy. Internazionale FC are currently top of Italy’s Serie A but only by one point having dropped five out of the last available nine points in the league. Since knocking out Chelsea the Nerazzurri struggled to a draw against Palermo, beat relegation-threatened Livorno and lost the crucial top-of-the-table clash at Stadio Olimpico on Saturday to AS Roma who now lie in second place. The Russian Premier League season is only three games old and the Muscovites have started the season well having taken seven out of nine points to share the lead with three other teams. An opening day win over Amkar Perm and a Matchday 3 victory win over Anzhi Makhachkala sandwiched a goalless draw in the big local derby against Dinamo Moscow.

UEFA CHAMPIONS LEAGUE QUARTER-FINALS (team on left is home first)

1st Leg 30/03/10; 2nd Leg 07/04/10

FC Bayern München v Manchester United

Olympique Lyonnais v FC Girondins de Bordeaux

1st Leg 31/03/10; 2nd Leg 06/04/10

Arsenal FC v FC Barcelona

Internazionale FC v CSKA Moscow

UEFA: Who will win the UEFA Champions League 2010? (Poll)

Posted in European Football by peterbein on March 19, 2010

The draw for the quarter-finals and semi-finals have taken place today in Nyon, Switzerland and there are some very interesting matches to come in the remainder of the competition. Below is the draw for the UEFA Champions League and we have created a poll so that you can vote for the team who you think will be lifting the trophy in the Estadio Santiago Bernabéu in Madrid on Saturday, May 22:

QUARTER-FINALS (1st leg 30-31 March; 2nd leg 06-07 April)

1. OLYMPIQUE LYONNAIS (France) v GIRONDINS de BORDEAUX (France)

2. FC BAYERN MÜNCHEN (Germany) v MANCHESTER UNITED (England)

3. ARSENAL FC (England) v FC BARCELONA (Spain)

4. INTERNAZIONALE FC (Italy) v CSKA MOSCOW (Russia)

SEMI-FINALS (1st leg 20-21 April; 2nd leg 27-28 April)

5. Winner Match 2 v Winner Match 1

6. Winner Match 4 v Winner Match 3

FINAL (Saturday, 22 May)

7. Winner Match 5 v Winner Match 6

UEFA Champions League trophy

UEFA Champions League trophy

UEFA Champions League: Round of 16 Review

Posted in European Football by peterbein on March 17, 2010
Samir Nasri

Samir Nasri scored a wonder goal in Arsenal's 5-0 second leg victory over FC Porto giving The Gunners a 6-2 aggregate win.

The UEFA Champions League Round of 16 phase is over and the eight clubs who have qualified for the quarter-final stage can look forward to the draw at UEFA Headquarters in Nyon, Switzerland on Friday. With the draw for the quarter-finals and semi-finals taking place each club will be assessing all potential routes to the final to be played in Madrid on Saturday, May 22nd. Here is a round-up of who qualified and how they got on in their last 16 encounters:

ARSENAL FC (England)

Arsène Wenger’s side gave away two sloppy goals in the first leg in Oporto which gave the Portuguese side the ascendancy. However Sol Campbell’s header in the first half of the first leg gave The Gunners hope that they could turn things around at The Emirates stadium which they did in fine style. Niklas Bendtner, who had been lambasted by all his critics for missing a hat-trick of gilt-edged chances in a league game three days earlier, would silence his doubters with a hat-trick of goals in the second leg, sealing the game with a penalty in stoppage time. Emmanuel Eboue and, most famously, Samir Nasri completed the scoring as Arsenal completed a 6-2 rout of their hapless opponents.

FC BARCELONA (Spain)

European champions Barcelona march on into the quarter-finals with a 5-1 aggregate victory over VfB Stuttgart whose solid performance to secure a 1-1 draw at home in the first leg seemed a distant memory after just 22 minutes in Wednesday’s second leg at Camp Nou. Cacau, who scored in the first leg for Stuttgart, was a frustrated figure along with with his team mates as Messi and co began to run riot over the Swabian side. Messi scored two great goals from outside the box in this game (13 and 60 mins) and was the pivotal figure in a game which Barça totally controlled. Young guns Pedro (22 mins) and substitute Bojan, who scored with his first touch of the game on 89 mins, secured a 4-0 second leg win and means that Barcelona are the team that the other seven will want to avoid in Friday’s draw.

FC BAYERN MÜNCHEN (Germany)

Having easily negotiated their way past Juventus in the group stage FC Bayern found a much tougher challenge in their two-legged affair with AC Fiorentina. The first leg, which finished 2-1 to Bayern, ended in controversy as Miroslav Klose’s 89th minute winning goal was scored whilst he was clearly in an offside position which went unnoticed by the officials. In the second leg Bayern had a real fight on their hands as the Italians took a 2-0 lead early in the second half which left the Münchener trailing overall in the tie, however Mark van Bommel scored on the hour to level the tie 3-3 on aggregate. Four minutes after van Bommel’s goal though Fiorentina took a 3-1 lead on the night to give themselves the advantage thanks to their player of the season Stevan Jovetić but Dutch sensation Arjen Robben scored one of the goals of the tournament just one minute later to level the aggregate score at 4-4. Bayern’s two away goals meant that the Viola had to find another goal from somewhere but Bayern’s defence held firm for the remaining twenty five minutes of the tie.

CSKA MOSCOW (Russia)

Perhaps the surprise team left standing in the last eight of the competition. Russian side CSKA have only just returned to domestic action after a three month winter break and were out of match practice before their two-legged tie with Spanish side Sevilla CF. In the first leg Chilean winger Mark González scored a wonderful long range effort to restore parity in the 66th minute after Sevilla’s Álvaro Negredo had given the Andalucians a deserved lead on 25 minutes. In the second leg the Russians scored first thanks to Tomáš Necid but their lead lasted for only two minutes as Diego Perotti levelled for the home side. The crucial event over the two legs was Keisuke Honda’s strike ten minutes into the second half which gave CSKA  a second away goal meaning that Sevilla had to score two more goals without reply in order to qualify for the last eight but it wasn’t to be. The Russians held out comfortbaly and will hope to surprise further in the quarter-finals.

GIRONDINS de BORDEAUX (France)

The French champions had a fairly comfortable 3-1 aggregate win over perennial Greek champions Olympiakos in this Champions League tie. Michaël Ciani scored the only goal in the first leg in the Greek port of Piraeus to leave Bordeaux in a very good position ahead of the second leg in France. Yohan Gourcuff scored after just five minutes in the second leg to leave the French side in a commanding position. Olympiakos did pull a goal a goal back on 64 minutes thanks to their top scorer Konstantinos Mitroglu, the goal came just four minutes after Olympiakos’ Matt Derbyshire was shown a red card for a second bookable offence. The game did even up in terms of players as Bordeaux had Alou Diarra sent off on 69 minutes and the Greeks belatedly began to believe that a second away goal was possible. However Bordeaux eventually sealed the deal when Maraoune Chamakh scored a header on 88 minutes leaving just enough time for Olof Mellberg to be the second Olympiakos player shown the red card deep into stoppage time.

Jose Mourinho

Jose Mourinho, aka The Special One, masterminded a win over his old club Chelsea FC with Italian champions Internazionale FC

INTERNAZIONALE FC (Italy)

All of the coverage before this game was centred on Inter coach Jose Mourinho, which was perhaps a preconceived tactic by the man himself to avoid any unneccessary scrutiny of his team before the games with Chelsea FC. If this was a deliberate tactic from The Special One then it worked a treat for the Nerazzurri who have qualifed for the last eight for the first time since the 2005-06 season. The first leg in the San Siro stadium was a sell-out and the home fans were celebrating inside three minutes thanks to a great strike from Diego Milito. However Chelsea FC gradually upped-the-ante and were rewarded after 51 minutes when Solomon Kalou’s shot from distance was deflected in and the small contingent of fans from London were celebrating high in the stands…but not for long. Inter regained the lead just four minutes later thanks to Esteban Cambiasso and the tie was set up nicely for the return match at Chelsea’s Stamford Bridge stadium. However much of the game failed to live up to the hype due to Inter’s fine execution of Mourinho’s strategy in the first half which saw few chances created and the home fans left frustrated. Inter became more offensively involved in the second half and were celebrating in the 75th minute when Samuel Eto’o proved Chelsea’s nemesis, not for the first time, with a well struck shot low into the corner of the goal to give the Italian champions a deserved win.

MANCHESTER UNITED (England)

The English champions went through yet again to the last eight of the Champions League to keep up their impressive record in Europe’s elite competition and once again it was Wayne Rooney who inspired the Red Devils to victory scoring four goals over the course of their two-legged encounter with seven times European champions AC Milan. In the first leg Ronaldinho scored early to shock United and the Italians could’ve had at least four goals in the first half but the Rossoneri were wasteful in front of goal and they were to regret their lack of firepower when Paul Scholes scored a fluke equalizer in the 36th minute. Rooney then took charge scoring twice in the second half before Clarence Seedorf’s late consolation gave Milan hope in the second leg by reducing the arrears to 3-2. The second leg at Old Trafford, however, was no contest once Rooney (who else?) opened the scoring on 13 minutes. Further strikes from Rooney, Park Ji-Sung and Darren Fletcher sealed a comfortable win for United who hope to reach a third consecutive Champions League final.

OLYMPIQUE LYONNAIS (France)

In what was the shock of the round Olympique Lyonnais disposed of los Galacticos of Real Madrid by securing a 2-1 aggregate victory over the nine time European champions whose dreams of a tenth triumph in their home stadium on May 22nd now lie in tatters. After Jean Makoun had given the French side a 1-0 first leg victory with a splendid long range strike in Lyon, Cristiano Ronaldo’s goal after six minutes in the return leg had all Madridistas hoping that the floodgates would open early. But after Real had missed a glut of further chances throughout the game it was to be Miralem Pjanić who would spoil the party when his 75th minute away goal meant that Real had to score another two goals to secure their passage to the last eight but it wasn’t to be.

UEFA Champions League: Round of 16 Preview 4

Posted in European Football by peterbein on February 23, 2010
Carlo Ancelotti

Carlo Ancelotti has already won the UEFA Champions League twice as AC Milan coach. Can he do it again with Chelsea FC?

In the fourth and final installment of Stoppage Time’s UEFA Champions League Round of 16 previews, we focus on those games which take place on Wednesday, February 24th with the return leg on Tuesday, March 16th:

INTERNAZIONALE FC (Italy) v CHELSEA FC (England)

With Manchester United’s 3-2 win against AC Milan last Tuesday the English Premier League currently leads Italy’s Serie A 1-0 in the Round of 16 contests. On Wednesday there is a more controversial reunion than the one enjoyed last week by a certain David Beckham upon meeting his former employers from Old Trafford. The self-proclaimed “Special One” Jose Mourinho will face up to his former comrades of Chelsea FC but will do so wanting to get one over an old adversary from Milan, Carlo Ancelotti. The former coach of AC Milan, Ancelotti has a proven track record in the UEFA Champions League winning two out of three finals (success in 2003 and 2007, defeat in 2005) with the Rossoneri but is determined to prove himself with his current team in his first season at Stamford Bridge.

Inter qualified for this stage finishing second in the toughest group of the first stage. The Nerazzurri ended up just two points behind FC Barcelona but managed to seal their place in the last 16 with a 2-0 home win over Russian champions Rubin Kazan. Since then Inter have gone unbeaten in thirteen league and cup games and have one foot in the Coppa Italia (Italian Cup) final having secured a 1-0 semi-final, first leg lead over AC Fiorentina. However Mourinho’s men have stalled a little since their 2-0 triumph in the most recent Milan derby in January, two draws in their last three games reducing their lead at the top of Serie A to just five points from resurgent AS Roma and six over AC Milan. Chelsea, on the other hand, increased their lead at the top of England’s Premier League to four points this weekend after their 2-0 win at Wolverhampton Wanderers was coupled with defeat for champions Manchester United at Everton FC. In fact Everton are the only team to have beaten Chelsea since the London side qualified for the Round of 16 with Chelsea losing just one from 15 league and FA Cup matches. In contrast to Inter, Chelsea arguably qualified from the easiest group in the Champions League finishing unbeaten against FC Porto, Atlético de Madrid and APOEL Nicosia.

Both teams have immense talent and strength in depth which makes them among the favourites to win the competition. Probably the strongest player at the moment is Chelsea’s Didier Drogba who has scored 25 goals in all competitions so far (three goals in Champions League) although they have a host of stars who can grab a crucial goal when required. Michael Ballack, Nicolas Anelka, Frank Lampard and even club captain John Terry can pop up whenever necessary. For Inter Diego Milito, who signed for the club from Genoa FC this season, is a threat in front of goal having hit the net 16 times in all competitions so far. He is ably assisted in attack by former Barcelona star Samuel Eto’o and rising young Italy star Mario Balotelli.

CSKA MOSCOW (Russia) v SEVILLA CF (Spain)

Sevilla have been much the busier of the two sides since the conclusion of the Champions League group stage due to the fact that the Russian season finished in late November. Therefore CSKA Moscow are lacking in match practice before the new 2010 domestic championship kicks off in March and may find it difficult in this competition against a Sevilla side who have played sixteen competitive games since they made it through their group which contained VfB Stuttgart, Unirea Urziceni and Glasgow Rangers.

Sevilla, though, have struggled for form since Round of 16 qualification especially in La Liga where they lost three matches in a row to Getafe, Atlético de Madrid and FC Barcelona before recovering to win four of their last five games. The Copa del Rey (Spanish King’s Cup) is where Sevilla have ridden their luck though. In the last three rounds leading up to the final they won one and lost one game in each round but were fortunate to have done enough in each first leg match of the competition against FC Barcelona (2-2 winning on away goals), Deportivo de La Coruña (3-1 on aggregate) and Getafe (2-1 agg.) to set up a meeting with Atlético de Madrid in the Estadio Santiago Bernabéu on May 26th. CSKA Moscow negotiated their way through a tough Champions League group which involved Manchester United, VfL Wolfsburg and Beşiktaş. After their 2-1 win over the latter on Matchday 6 there were rumours that CSKA would be thrown out of the competition after two of their players, Sergei Ignashevich and Alexei Berezutsky, were tested positive for a banned substance but UEFA were satisifed that there was “a technical error” which led to confusion and the club were fined €25,000 and the players concerned were banned for one match which has now been served allowing the players to compete in the knockout rounds.

Sevilla’s main threats come from their striking partnership Luís Fabiano (14 goals, 3 in Champions League) and Frédi Kanouté (7 goals, 2 in Champions League) who have enjoyed the club’s recent domestic and European success together in the last five years and whose potent threat up front makes the Andalucians an outside bet for Champions League glory. For CSKA Moscow it is important that they can keep hold of winger Miloš Krasić, who has been linked with clubs from England and Spain after his four goals in the Champions League group stage alerted many clubs to his talent. However CSKA will have to make do without the servies of Brazilian forward Vagner Love who is currently on loan at Rio de Janeiro club Flamengo.

Champions League – Group Stage Round-Up: Part One

Posted in European Football by peterbein on December 9, 2009
Louis Van Gaal

Can Louis van Gaal win the Champions League again?

This week sees the conclusion of the group stages in the UEFA Champions League. “Stoppage Time” takes a look back at how each group has shaped up, starting with groups A-D today, followed by groups E-H tomorrow:

GROUP A (BORDEAUX, BAYERN MUNICH, JUVENTUS, MACCABI HAIFA)

Bordeaux surprised the pundits with a near faultless performance in group A. “Les Girondins” only dropped two points away at Juventus on Matchday 1 leaving the traditional big boys “Juve” and FC Bayern to fight it out for second place. During the campaign it seemed as if Bayern’s domestic troubles were going to destroy their European ambitions and, with two matchdays to go, Juve seemed to be going through. However the four time European champions from Bavaria still had a chance on Matchday 6, all they had to do was beat Juventus away in Turin. What seemed a tough task proved, ultimately, to be a stroll in the park for Louis van Gaal’s men as they won 4-1 including a penalty goal from Bayern keeper Hans-Jörg Butt. Juventus are now confined to the Europa League whilst Israeli champions Maccabi Haifa couldn’t even score a goal in the whole group stage and, unsurprisingly, remained pointless after six games.

GROUP B (MANCHESTER UNITED, CSKA MOSCOW, VfL WOLFSBURG, BESIKTAS)

As expected Manchester United topped the group in comfortable fashion. CSKA Moscow claimed the second place after a 2-1 success away in Istanbul against Besiktas on Matchday 6. The celebrations were dampened somewhat by the news that two of their players, Alexei Berezutsky and Sergei Ignashevich, were tested positive for banned substances. However UEFA has decided to punish the players rather than the club for what officals of CSKA Moscow called “a clerical error”.  German champions VfL Wolfsburg had a good maiden campaign in Europe’s elite class with Edin Džeko attracting the notice of some of Europe’s biggest clubs with some good performances, most notably against Manchester United at Old Trafford. Besiktas were struggling from the start but a consolation win over Manchester United in Matchday 5 proved to be their only highlight. With players such as Wayne Rooney and Michael Owen showing glimpses of their best “ManU” finished with 13 points at the top of the group with CSKA three points behind. Wolfsburg’s European campaign will continue in the Europa League whilst Besiktas have to revert back to the travails of domestic football.

GROUP C (REAL MADRID, AC MILAN, OLYMPIQUE MARSEILLE, FC ZÜRICH)

Before a ball was kicked in this group virtually everybody had tipped Real Madrid and AC Milan, two clubs with sixteen European Cups before them, to qualify for the Round of 16 and so it was proved. The only real blip which the Spanish side suffered was their 3-2 home defeat by the Italian giants on Matchday 3. FC Zürich had their moments too, a 1-0 defeat of AC Milan in the San Siro on Matchday 2 had their fans dreaming of further glory. Sadly for the Swiss champions their double header against Marseille proved disappointing and effectively knocked them out of the competition. On Matchday 6 Marseille still had a chance of progressing but they had to defeat Real Madrid, who were already through, at home and hope Milan dropped points in Zürich. The latter scenario happened as Milan could only manage a 1-1 draw but Cristiano Ronaldo was in scintillating form for Real Madrid scoring twice in a 3-1 win at Stade Vélodrome to send Marseille into the Europa League.

GROUP D (CHELSEA FC, FC PORTO, ATLÉTICO DE MADRID, APOEL NICOSIA)

Chelsea and FC Porto were clearly the two best sides in the group easily seeing off a poor Atleti and a weak APOEL team although the Cypriots were far from expected to qualify for the last 16. Chelsea’s two matches against FC Porto determined the top two placings with the London club winning 1-0 home and away. This was the difference between the two teams even allowing for the fact that Chelsea drew 2-2 away at Atleti and at home to APOEL on Matchday 6 when they’d already qualified. Chelsea finsihed on 14 points two ahead of Porto who some people fancy as a good outside bet in the tournament. “Los Rojiblancos” (the red and whites) of Madrid scraped through to the Europa League going through on their head-to-head record against APOEL. With both teams finishing on three points each after six games Atleti’s away goal in the 1-1 draw in Cyprus proved crucial as APOEL were only able to manage a 0-0 draw in Spain.