Champions League: Man United nearly through, Chelsea mauled

Bayern Munich’s Kingsley Coman (in red) scores against Celtic in the opening minutes of their game played in Glasgow. (Andrew Milligan/PA via AP)

MANCHESTER: – Manchester United almost made sure of a place in the knockout stage of the Champions League by beating Benfica 2-0 at Old Trafford on Tuesday to make it a perfect four wins in Group A.

An own goal by Benfica’s 18-year-old keeper Mile Svilar on the stroke of halftime and a Daley Blind penalty in the 78th minute were enough for United who struggled at times to find their fluency.

Svilar, the youngest keeper in Champions League history, was unfortunate as a Nemanja Matic shot struck the post and bounced into the goal off his back.

FC Basel 1-2 CSKA Moscow
Manchester United 2-0 Benfica
Celtic 1-2 Bayern Munich
Paris St Germain 5-0 RSC Anderlecht
Atletico Madrid 1-1 FK Qarabag
Roma 3-0 Chelsea
Olympiakos 0-0 Barcelona
Sporting 1-1 Juventus

Earlier Svilar, whose error had gifted United a 1-0 win when the teams met two weeks ago in Lisbon, had saved a weak penalty from United’s French forward Anthony Martial to keep his team on level terms.

United’s Dutch defender Blind made no such mistake with his spot kick after substitute Marcus Rashford was brought down by Andreas Samaris.

Benfica had several decent chances in the game but United’s Spanish keeper David De Gea was his usual reliable self and when he was beaten, Mexican forward Raul Jimenez’s shot struck the outside of the post.

The result leaves United top of Group A on 12 points while CSKA Moscow and Basel each have six points with Benfica still without a point.

CSKA won 2-1 at Basel in Tuesday’s other game in the group.

Stephan El Shaarawy scored twice as AS Roma mauled Chelsea 3-0 to claim top spot in Champions League Group C on Tuesday at the expense of the English champions.

The rematch in Rome’s Stadio Olympico after a 3-3 thriller in London two weeks ago did not disappoint the 55,000 crowd in Rome as Chelsea coach Antonio Conte was frustrated on his return to Italy.

El Shaarawy rifled in two first half goals — the first after less than a minute and the second nine minutes before the break — with Argentine Diego Perotti adding a third on 63 minutes.

A second win in four games moves the Romans closer to the last-16, thwarting Chelsea who had been hoping to seal a spot in the knockout rounds with two games to go.

Eusebio Di Francesco’s side now have eight points from four games, one point ahead of Chelsea, with Atletico Madrid third on three points after being held 1-1 by Qarabag.

Paris St Germain qualified for the Champions League last 16 in emphatic fashion when they extended their perfect Group B record with a 5-0 home win against Anderlecht, with fullback Layvin Kurzawa scoring a hat-trick.

Neymar, back in the team after being sent off during the French “classic” against Olympique de Marseille, scored the second goal on the stroke of halftime after Marco Verratti’s opener, with Kurzawa completing the scoreline after the interval.

PSG have 12 points from four games and lead Bayern Munich, who beat Celtic 2-1 away, by three points.

Meanwhile, Barcelona’s seemingly inevitable passage to the 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.

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