Kingsley Coman and Javi Martinez fired Bayern Munich into the knockout stages of the Champions League, netting a goal each as they beat Celtic 2-1 in their Group B clash on Tuesday to make it two wins out of two against the Scottish champions.
The victory puts the German side on nine points after four games, three behind leaders Paris Saint Germain and six ahead of third-placed Celtic, and their superior record against the Scots guarantees them a top-two spot in the group.
Though the hosts started well, Coman broke the deadlock for Bayern in controversial fashion in the 22nd minute, appearing to handle a long ball from goalkeeper Sven Ulreich before firing home following a horrendous mix-up in the Celtic defence.
After creating the goal, Ulreich had to come to his side’s rescue early in the second half, getting down smartly to steer Stuart Armstrong’s shot behind for a corner.
Callum McGregor put Celtic back on level terms in the 74th minute, latching on to James Forrest’s clever pass before sliding the ball between Ulreich’s legs.
The lead lasted only three minutes as Martinez headed Bayern back in front, sustaining a nasty cut above his eye in a clash of heads with Celtic defender Nir Bitton in the process.
Celtic shifted to a three-man backline as they chased another equaliser but even with six minutes of time added due to the injuries to Martinez and Bitton, the Hoops could not fashion an equaliser.
Barcelona held by Olympiakos
Barcelona’s seemingly inevitable passage to the Champions League last 16 was postponed by a determined Olympiakos Piraeus side on Tuesday as the Greek champions held the Spanish giants to a 0-0 draw in an absorbing Group D clash.
Ernesto Valverde’s in-form Barca team enjoyed the lion’s share of possession and chances in an often frenetic, open match at the Georgios Karaiskakis stadium but the La Liga club could not find a way past goalkeeper Silvio Proto.
The Belgian made several fine saves, especially in the first half, to deny a somewhat subdued Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez in a pulsating atmosphere generated by the boisterous home fans.
Barcelona are top of the section with 10 points, having extended their unbeaten run in all competitions to 15 matches with 13 wins and two draws.
It was the first Champions League point in four matches for Takis Lemonis’ Olympiakos team who are also struggling in the Greek SuperLeague.
Higuain rescues draw for Juve against lively Sporting
Gonzalo Higuain scored a typically clinical goal to earn Juventus a 1-1 draw at Sporting after the Serie A side had been rattled by their opponents in a lively Champions League clash on Tuesday.
Sporting, the better side in the first half, took a deserved lead through Brazilian midfielder Bruno Cesar in the 20th minute.
As Juve crept back into the game, Sporting goalkeeper Rui Patricio made a brilliant save to deny Higuain in the 69th minute but was powerless to stop the Argentine forward equalising 10 minutes later.
The win kept Juventus second in Group D with seven points from four games, three ahead of their opponents, and on course for a place in the last 16. Barcelona lead with 10 after their 0-0 draw away to Olympiakos.
Sporting had to field a makeshift defence as Jonathan Silva replaced Fabio Coentrao at left back, Andre Pinto stepped for Jeremy Mathieu at centre back and Stefan Ristovski was brought in at right back for Cristiano Piccini.
But they went ahead when livewire winger Gelson Martins slipped past Giorgio Chiellini, fired in a shot which Gianlugi Buffon parried and Bruno Cesar followed up to slot in the rebound from just inside the area.
Sporting cut off the supply line to Higuain and Mario Mandzukic as they refused to allow Juve playmaker Paulo Dybala get into his stride.
Mandzukic had Juve’s first effort on target two minutes into the second half although his header from a corner was comfortably saved by Patricio.
Dangerous on the break, Sporting missed chances to wrap up the game and paid the price.
Juve thought they had equalised in the 69th minute but Patricio did superbly well to recover his ground and make a brilliant reflex stop to keep out Higuain’s header.
But there was no let-off when Juan Cuadrado threaded the ball through to Higuain who clipped the ball past Patricio as the Sporting defence claimed offside.
Atletico on the brink
Atletico Madrid’s Champions League hopes hang in the balance after they were held to a 1-1 draw at home by Group C minnows Qarabag from Azerbaijan on Tuesday despite playing a large part of the second half with an extra man.
The home side had far more chances than Qarabag in the first half but fell behind in the 40th minute when Spanish midfielder Michel rose to meet a corner and his header was too powerful for Jan Oblak to keep out.
Midfielder Thomas Partey equalised in the 56th minute with a thunderous long-range strike and Atletico were given another boost when Brazilian Pedro Henrique was sent off a minute later.
Yet despite laying siege to the visitors’ area, the Liga side could not find a winner, while Atletico’s Stefan Savic was sent off for a second booking in the 88th minute.
Diego Simeone’s side, Champions League runners up in 2014 and 2016 and semi-finalists last season, are third in Group C on three points, five behind leaders AS Roma and four behind Chelsea.
CSKA Moscow fights back to win 2-1 at Basel
CSKA Moscow clawed back into Champions League contention on Tuesday with a come-from-behind 2-1 win at Basel on Tuesday.
Basel seemed set to advance from Group A alongside Manchester United with two games to spare when it led at halftime through Luca Zuffi’s clever 32nd-minute shot.
The game changed when CSKA’s fit-again playmaker Alan Dzagoev came on for the second half and sparked the visitors’ attack.
Dzagoev lifted a deft shot over Basel goalkeeper Tomas Vaclik in the 65th, and midfielder Pontus Wernbloom fired in a low shot in the 79th from outside the penalty area.
Both CSKA scorers were teed up by inadvertent ricochets off Basel captain Marek Suchy, a former Spartak Moscow defender.
After Basel won in Moscow two weeks ago, the two teams both have six points. Group leader Man United has a perfect 12 points after beating Benfica 2-0 but is still not assured of advancing.
Basel hosts the English team in three weeks’ time.
Dzagoev was judged not fit enough to start in St. Jakob-Park, though he returned to action just in time for CSKA after a one-month absence with an Achilles injury.
If Basel lacked the attacking zest of its 5-0 home win over Benfica last month, the technique shown by Zuffi was worthy of taking the lead.
Zuffi reacted with poise when the ball looped off goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev who was drawn out to save at the feet of Mohamed Elyounoussi. Zuffi turned sideways to the goal outside the penalty area and lifted his left foot high to direct the ball back into an empty net.
The goal extended Akinfeev’s run of failing to keep a clean sheet for CSKA in 43 straight Champions League group-stage games dating back 11 years.