Soccer

Top European clubs ease into Champions League's last 16

AFP-JIJI

Defending champion Real Madrid and Cristiano Ronaldo’s Juventus were among the seven teams to reach the last 16 of the Champions League on Tuesday while Sergio Aguero’s late equalizer at Lyon also sent Manchester City through.

Bayern Munich thumped Benfica 5-1 to book its place and ease the pressure on coach Niko Kovac.

“It’s a convincing win and that’s exactly what we needed at the moment,” Bayern’s Arjen Robben said after he netted twice.

Marouane Fellaini’s 91st-minute winner against Young Boys saw Manchester United squeak through 1-0 after Jose Mourinho’s men had labored against the Swiss side at Old Trafford.

After Fellaini’s low shot went in, the embattled Mourinho picked up a pack of water bottles, throwing them to the ground in relief at a result that should lift some of the gloom hanging over the club.

“For some of my lovers, for those who like stats, 14 seasons in the Champions League, 14 times qualify through the group phases,” said Mourinho, reflecting on his personal record as boss of Porto, Chelsea and Real Madrid, as well as United.

Real and Roma secured spots in the knockout stages even before the Spaniards’ 2-0 victory in the Italian capital after Group G rival CSKA Moscow fell to a 2-1 defeat at home to Viktoria Plzen.

Gareth Bale scored one goal and supplied the cross that led to the other as Lucas Vazquez wrapped up a clinical 2-0 win at Stadio Olimpico that was a world away from Real’s 3-0 defeat against Eibar in the Spanish league over the weekend.

“It was important to bounce back quickly,” said Real coach Santiago Solari. “We are very happy.”

Real is three points clear of Roma going into its final Group G match against CSKA Moscow next month.

Mario Mandzukic booked Juventus’ ticket for the knockout phase with a simple tap-in after a sublime piece of skill followed by a cross from Ronaldo as Juventus beat Valencia 1-0.

The Italians have 12 points, two more than United, but both have clinched advancement to the next phase because Valencia only has five.

In Lyon, France, City took a point from a pulsating match after David Cornet scored two second-half goals, including an outstanding long-range effort, only for the French club to be pinned back each time.

City’s French defender Aymeric Laporte equalized first and then Aguero out-jumped taller defenders to head home and spark wild celebrations from manager Pep Guardiola.

Lyon is left needing a draw against Shakhtar Donetsk in its final Group F game next month to go through after the Ukrainian club stunned Hoffenheim 3-2 away to stay in contention.

During Ajax’s 2-0 win at AEK Athens which featured a pair of goals from Serbian No. 10 Dusan Tadic, Greek riot police wielding batons entered the stands at Athens Olympic Stadium to separate fighting fans. According to police, 11 Ajax supporters were injured.

AFP photographs showed some Dutch fans with blood streaming down their faces.

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