Panathinaikos FC and Bayer 04 Leverkusen have taken the last two places for the quarter-finals of the UEFA Champions League after a dramatic night of action on Wednesday.
Panathinaikos achieved a 2-2 draw against Real Madrid CF to secure the second qualification spot in Group C behind Madrid, who finished the second group stage unbeaten, while Leverkusen took the only other place left up for grabs by finishing first in Group D. The German club's 3-1 victory over RC Deportivo La Coruña allowed them to push the already qualified Spanish side into second place.
Draw on Friday
It all means that the eight teams through to Friday's quarter-final draw in Nyon, Switzerland will be group winners Leverkusen, Madrid, Manchester United FC and Barcelona FC along with runners-up Panathinaikos, Deportivo, Liverpool FC and FC Bayern München.
Group winners kept apart
Friday's draw - which takes place at the House of European Football at 12.30CET, followed by the draw for the UEFA Cup semi-finals at 13.00 - will pit each group winner against a runner-up from one of the other three groups. Teams from the same second group stage section cannot meet but teams from the same country can. In each quarter-final, the group winner has the advantage of playing the second leg at home.
Twice in front
In Athens, Panathinaikos took the lead in the ninth minute. A cross from Georgios Seitaridis was headed clear by a defender but only as far as Nikos Liberopoulos who slammed the ball home from 20 metres. The lead did not last long though as an unmarked Fernando Morientes headed home a Steve McManaman cross two minutes later. However, in the 64th minute Panathinaikos took the lead again through Ioannis Goumas. He escaped his marker with ease to head the ball past Iker Casillas but Madrid ensured the game finished all-square when Javier Garcia Portillo hit a stunning 25-metre strike on his debut.
Two great goals
The result was academic in the end because of FC Porto's 2-0 defeat in the the Letná stadium in Prague by AC Sparta Praha. Porto had needed a win and a Panathinaikos defeat to progress but all was lost after a super goal from Libor Sionko. In the 63rd minute, Sionko's electric pace allowed him to cut inside from the right and latch onto an incisive pass, outpacing the Porto defence. He cut inside Silva and advanced towards the edge of the box, where he placed a low, firm shot into the corner of the net. The second was also of the highest quality, coming from a 71st-minute free-kick by Jirí Jarošik.
Leverkusen turned in an impressive performance in La Coruña to see off Deportivo and snatch the all-important first place. A 34th-minute header from Michael Ballack and a scrambled goal 20 minutes later from Bernd Schneider were enough to give the German club the advantage. A late deflected goal from Diego Tristán gave Deportivo some hope but Oliver Neuville sealed Leverkusen's win with a header four minutes from time.
Pride for Juventus
The other group game saw Arsenal FC lose 1-0 at the Delle Alpi stadium to an already-eliminated Juventus FC. Arsenal, who had needed a win to have a chance of progression, were defeated by Marcelo Zalayeta's 74th-minute header. Thierry Henry missed a penalty just after half-time but it would have made no difference to the night after Leverkusen's victory.
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