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Rediff.com  » Sports » Champions League Images: Barcelona, Inter book last 16 berth

Champions League Images: Barcelona, Inter book last 16 berth

Last updated on: December 10, 2009 11:06 IST

Inter down Rubin to progress to last 16

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Inter Milan battled into the Champions League last 16 after goals from forwards Samuel Eto'o and Mario Balotelli secured a 2-0 home win over eliminated Rubin Kazan on Wednesday.

The Italian champions needed a win in their final Group F game to guarantee their passage and although their play was again far from fluent, they did enough to dump the Russians out and finish second.

Evergreen captain Javier Zanetti, filling in at left back for the suspended Cristian Chivu, showed dogged determination when surrounded by defenders in the corner and Balotelli cut the ball back for Eto'o to smash home on the half hour mark.

Balotelli had another frustrating match before blasting in a 35-metre free kick just after the hour to spark a party atmosphere.


Image: Inter Milan's Ballotelli (second from right) celebrates with Wesley Sneijder after scoring past Rubin Kazan goal-keeper Ryzhikov (in the backgound)

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Messi free-kick puts Barca on top of Group F

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Lionel Messi's superb free kick earned Barcelona a 2-1 victory against Dynamo Kiev and sent the European Champions into the first knockout round on Wednesday.

Messi struck four minutes from time as Barca finished top of Group F on 11 points, two ahead of Inter Milan. Kiev finished bottom with Rubin Kazan claiming the Europa League place.

Dynamo Kiev stunned the holders just two minutes after kick off with Artem Milevskiy heading the home side in front as he latched onto a free-kick from Andriy Shevchenko.

Milevskiy's glancing header looked to have been saved by keeper Victor Valdes but the ball squirmed out of his grasp and into the net.

Barca dominated the game from then on. They applied the pressure on the hosts and found the equaliser in the 33rd minute when Eric Abidal's cross from the left was turned in by Xavi from close range.

Four minutes from time Messi curled in a free-kick that went in off the crossbar to clinch victory.


Image: Barcelona's Gerard Pique (top) wins an aerial challenge against Dynamo Kiev's Artem Milevskiy

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Leonardo leads Olympiakos to last 16

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Olympiakos joined Arsenal in the last 16 of the Champions League on Wednesday after Leonardo's solitary goal gave the Greek side a narrow 1-0 victory over a youthful London team.

The Brazilian raced clear to slot the ball through the legs of Arsenal keeper Lukasz Fabianski just two minutes into the second half.

Greek champions Olympiakos went through as the second-placed team from Group H with 10 points, three behind Arsenal who had already qualified before the final group match.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger fielded a starting lineup with an average age of just 21 and his young team were unlucky not to snatch a draw with Carlos Vela guilty of passing up a couple of good opportunities.


Image: Kostas Mitroglou of Olympiakos (right) and Kerrea Gilbert of Arsenal vie for possession

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Gilardino's late strike sinks Liverpool

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Alberto Gilardino scored a last-gasp winner for Fiorentina to secure a 2-1 win over Liverpool in the Champions League on Wednesday.

Yossi Benayoun gave the Premier League side the lead with a 43rd minute header at Anfield before Martin Jorgensen scored a 63rd minute equaliser for the Italians. Gilardino won it with seconds remaining after converting a Juan Vargas cross.

With Fiorentina safely through to the last 16 and five-times European champions Liverpool resigned to playing in the Europa League next year, this was a dead rubber in terms of placings in Group E.

With nothing to play for but pride and with a titanic Premier League game against Arsenal on Sunday, Liverpool coach Rafa Benitez used the game to give some of his fringe players a chance to shine in the Champions League spotlight.

Liverpool-born defender Stephen Darby was handed his first senior start at right-back and he was kept busy along with Diego Cavalieri, the second-choice keeper.


Image: Liverpool skipper Steven Gerrard (right) gets innovative as he vies for possession with Fiorentina's Riccardo Montolivo

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Lyon thrash Debrecen to finish second in Group E

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Olympique Lyon thumped Hungarian rivals Debrecen 4-0 but finished second in Group E behind Fiorentina, who beat Liverpool.

Standard Liege secured third place thanks to a last-gasp 1-1 home draw against AZ Alkmaar.

Goalkeeper Sinan Bolat scored Standard's equaliser in the fifth minute of injury time after the visitors had taken a first-half lead through Jeremain Lens.

Sevilla made sure of the top spot in Group G ahead of Stuttgart after a Frederic Kanoute penalty handed them a 1-0 home win over Rangers.

Stuttgart booked their place in the last 16 of the Champions League with a 3-1 win over Unirea Urziceni in a thrilling game at the Mercedes-Benz Arena.


Image: Debrecen's Adamo Coulibaly takes a tumble after being challenged by Olympique Lyon's Cris (left) and Jean-Alain Boumsong

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