Real Madrid bounced back against all odds to win their final group game against Borussia Monchengladbach to send themselves into the knockout round while still finishing top of Group B.
Karim Benzema scored twice as the Spanish champions beat Gladbach 2-0 on Wednesday to ease pressure on Zinedine Zidane, while group rivals Inter Milan drew with Shakhtar Donetsk.
Zidane’s side managed 10 points after 6 games played while Gladbach came second place with eight, pipping third-placed Shakhtar due to their better head-to-head record, while Inter came fourth with six.
Real’s record of qualifying from their group for the last 23 years was threatened as they lost to Shakhtar Donetsk for the second time but as so often in the competition that forms such a large part of their identity and history, they made it count when it mattered most.
As early as in the ninth minute, Real were in front through Karim Benzema who planted a header low to Yann Sommer’s right and into the net.
The visitors, Gladbach, wasted an open chance to cancel out Benzema’s opener as French winger Alassane Plea having raced clear towards goal bungled his attempted dink over Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois wide.
Madrid, however, were hungry to ensure safety, and what better way to do that than score more goals which Benzema did as he rose to meet Rodrygo’s cross to double Real’s advantage with another trademark header
Once the final whistle went, Gladbach’s players who were more concerned about the outcome of the final minutes of Inter’s game against Shakhtar erupted with joy when that match also finished to send them through by the skin of their teeth.
Atletico Madrid reach the knockout stages with a win in Austria
Atletico Madrid finished second behind Bayern Munich in Group A and are through to the last 16 of the Champions League after a 2-0 win at Red Bull Salzburg on a busy night in Europe.
Mario Hermoso opened the scoring while Yannick Carrasco closed out the game with the second goal to ensure the Spanish side finish second in their Group behind holders Bayern Munich, who rounded off their group campaign with a 2-0 home success against Lokomotiv Moscow.
Atalanta eliminates Ajax to qualify for the Round of 16
Atalanta qualified for the knockout stage of the UEFA Champions League for the second successive season with a victory at Dutch giants Ajax on Wednesday.
Luis Muriel who came on as a substitute scored the decisive goal for the Italians five minutes from time, rounding goalkeeper Andre Onana to slot home.
Atalanta go through as Group D runners-up behind Liverpool.
UEFA Champions League Results
Wednesday 9th December
- Ajax 0-1 Atalanta
- FC Midtjylland 1-1 Liverpool
- Paris Saint-Germain 5-1 Istanbul Buyuksehir
- Bayern Munich 2-0 Lokomotiv Moscow
- Inter Milan 0-0 Shakhtar Donetsk
- Manchester City 3-0 Marseille
- Olympiakos FC 0-2 FC Porto
- Real Madrid 2-0 M’gladbach
- Red Bull Salzburg 0-2 Atletico Madrid