FC Zenit St Petersburg and AFC Ajax claimed two of the remaining UEFA Europa League spots on offer, as half of the UEFA Champions League clubs brought their group stage campaigns to a close on Tuesday.
With all the qualifiers for the round of 16 from Groups A to D confirmed by matchday five, the outstanding questions tonight were who would finish top – in two sections – and which teams would earn the two available UEFA Europa League berths.
In Group D, Manchester City FC needed victory at section winners Borussia Dortmund to have any chance of coming above Ajax in third. The Dutch champions' fate was in their own hands, but they could not get a result at Real Madrid CF, losing 4-1. It mattered not, though, as Julian Schieber scored the only goal in Dortmund to complete a disappointing European autumn for Roberto Mancini's men.
Zenit secured the other third place at stake on Tuesday as they won 1-0 at AC Milan – only their second away success in the competition. Danny got the all-important goal at San Siro while the Russian club's rivals for Group C's UEFA Europa League slot, RSC Anderlecht, could not make the most of a late rally at Málaga CF, drawing 2-2.
At kick-off, Paris Saint-Germain FC were a point behind Group A leaders FC Porto, yet came away with the victory required to finish above their visitors in the standings. After Thiago Silva and swapped first-half goals, Ezequiel Lavezzi struck the winner after the break, meaning PSG will be seeded in the last-16 draw on 20 December.
In the other game, an added-time Ivan Krstanović equaliser against FC Dynamo Kyiv helped GNK Dinamo Zagreb avoid an unwanted record; it was their first point of the group stage and stopped an 11-match losing streak. The record, set by Anderlecht, is 12.
FC Schalke 04 clinched pole position in Group B with a 1-1 draw at Montpellier Hérault SC. Arsenal FC could have overtaken the German outfit but stumbled to a 2-1 loss at UEFA Europa League-bound Olympiacos FC.
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