Champions League round-up

04 November 2009 09:47
// A bit of a hack but it works// The article snippet is wrapped onto a second line, even when #article-sub is emptyif( $("div#article-sub").children().length == 0 ) {$("div#article-sub").remove();} Arsenal virtually booked their place in the last 16 of the UEFA Champions League on Wednesday, while Liverpool and Rangers' hopes continue to hang in the balance.

Sevilla secured their place in the knockout stages, but the likes of Inter Milan and Barcelona continue to make hard work of their efforts to secure a safe passage out of the group stages.

Arsenal knew three points at home to AZ Alkmaar would put them on the brink of qualification and they duly saw off the Dutch champions 4-1 at Emirates Stadium.

The Gunners dominated from the off and it came as no surprise when they broke the deadlock on 25 minutes.

Sergio Romero appeared to have a hopeful effort from Cesc Fabregas well covered, but he somehow allowed his low drive to sneak inside the post.

Arsene Wenger's side then pulled further ahead two minutes before the interval as Samir Nasri skipped past his man on the edge of the box and coolly slotted home.

Fabregas then put the seal on a comfortable night's work seven minutes into the second half when he curled a delightful effort into the far corner and Abou Diaby notched a fourth on 72 minutes when he added the final touch to a rapid counter attack.

Jeremain Lens pulled one back for Ronald Koeman's side on 82 minutes, wrong-footing Manuel Almunia, but there was no way back for the visitors.

Greek giants Olympiakos continue to occupy second spot behind Arsenal in Group H, but they came unstuck against Standard Liege on Matchday Four.

Deiudonne Mbokani showcased his considerable talents with a buccaneering run and unerring finish after half an hour to open the scoring and Milan Jovanovic headed home a second after 88 minutes.

There was no such joy for Liverpool as their European misery continued with a 1-1 draw in Lyon.

The Reds enjoyed the better of the first half chances, with Andriy Voronin spurning a glorious opportunity when he fired straight at Hugo Lloris after being presented with a clear sight of goal.

Lyon did pose problems on the counter, though, and Lisandro Lopez and Michel Bastos were a menace throughout.

The French goal led a charmed life at times after the interval, with some heroic defending denying Lucas and Dirk Kuyt and leaving Rafa Benitez to ponder what he has done to deserve such wretched luck.

Ryan Babel did crack home a thunderbolt of an opener with seven minutes left on the clock, to revive the Reds' dreams, but Lisandro broke their hearts with a last-minute leveller.

Fiorentina's comprehensive 5-2 victory over Debrecen will have done little to lift Benitez's mood, with the Italians now five points clear of their Group E rivals from Anfield.

Adrian Mutu's stopping header after 14 minutes opened the scoring, before Gergely Rudolf squared things up on 38 minutes when he volleyed home at the back post.

The Viola were not to be denied, though, and three goals in the space of 10 frenetic minutes turned the tie in their favour.

Dario Dainelli bagged a brave header after 52 minutes, Riccardo Montolivo poked home seven minutes later and Marco Marchionni scored the goal of the night when he provided a delicate finish to a flowing move just past the hour mark.

Adamo Coulibaly nodded one back for Debrecen after 70 minutes, but it was nothing more than a consolation, and Alberto Gilardino wrapped things up for the hosts with a glancing header 16 minutes from time.

Rangers remain bottom of Group G after they were held 1-1 away at Unirea Urziceni.

Walter Smith's side were much improved from their meeting with Dan Petrescu's Romanian outfit a fortnight ago and Lee McCulloch's fierce drive, which slipped through Giedrius Arlauskis, had them in front after 79 minutes.

They were unable to hang onto that lead, though, as a spectacular strike from Marius Onofras, with just two minutes remaining, hauled the hosts level.

Unfortunately, while matters on the field will fail to make the headlines, the unruly behaviour of a section of Rangers supporters probably will.

Sevilla allowed their 100 per cent record at this stage of the competition to slip after they were held 1-1 at home by Stuttgart.

Jesus Navas appeared to have preserved the Spaniards' perfect run, after he slotted home on 14 minutes, but Zdravko Kuzmanovic snatched an equaliser for the Germans 11 minutes from time.

Group F remains intriguingly poised, with reigning champions Barcelona failing to produce the fireworks expected of them.

Pep Guardiola's side got the action up and running on Wednesday, in freezing Russia, but they were held 0-0 by Rubin Kazan.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic came closest to forcing a goal, hitting the post after just two minutes, but Rubin held on to take their points tally against the Catalan giants to four following their shock success at Camp Nou last time out.

Inter Milan were expected to push Barca close in the race to the last 16, and they clambered to the top of the pile with a dramatic 2-1 win at Dynamo Kiev.

Former AC Milan favourite Andriy Shevchenko's superb dipping volley after 21 minutes had the Ukrainians in front for much of the contest.

Inter, though, hit back late on as goals from Diego Milito (86) and Wesley Sneijder (89) got Jose Mourinho's men out of jail.

Source: SKY_Sports