Manchester City and Arsenal failed to top their respective Champions League groups and could face a tough tie against a group winner when the draw for the knockout phase of the competition is made on Monday.
While Arsenal lost 2-0 to Napoli and both teams were overtaken at the top of their group by Borussia Dortmund, Chelsea secured top spot in their group with a 1-0 victory over Steaua Bucharest. The Gunners were relieved to qualify in a group where three clubs finished on 12 points and Napoli still failed to qualify for the knockout phase.
Manchester United topped their group but not without drama against a wasteful Shakhtar Donetsk side.
Manchester City, however, played a virtual second string side and were architects of a thrilling comeback from 2-0 down to win 3-0 against a virtually full strength Bayern Munich side at the Allianz Arena yesterday. The thrilling victory ended a run of 10 straight victories in the Champions League for Bayern.
Early jitters and mistakes by a City side showing seven changes from the side that drew at Southampton last weekend allowed Bayern to race into a 2-0 lead within 15 minutes. Goals by Thomas Muller and Mario Gotze, both capitalising on defensive errors by City, appeared to set the scene for another thrashing by the European Champions.
The shock of the early goals was compounded by yet another injury to the luckless Micah Richards who went off after just 16 terrifying minutes in Munich with a hamstring injury and was replaced by Pablo Zabaleta whose presence subsequently lifted the visitors to winning heights.
With nothing to lose and qualification for the knockout phase assured, David Silva pulled the strings and started the fightback as City pegged Bayern back in the 28th minute through a goal by the Spaniard laid on by the superb James Milner with help from Jesus Navas. Aleksandar Kolarov’s penalty levelled the scores on the night early in the second half after Silva returned the favour and passed to Milner who was brought down in the area on 59 minutes by Dante. The England midfielder deservedly went on to score the winner three minutes later after Navas’ cross was misjudged by former City defender Jerome Boateng leaving Milner to curl home a famous goal for City.
There was confusion after the game in which it appeared that City manager Manuel Pellegrini and man of the match Milner, who created two goals and scored the winner, didn’t realise that a 4-2 win would have allowed City to top Group D. Crucially, Jack Rodwell replaced Edin Dzeko in the dying minutes with Sergio Aguero left on the bench as an unused substitute but City seemingly had decided to stick with 3-2 rather than gamble everything for another goal.
Monday’s draw will bring group winners will be drawn against runners up with the two exceptions that clubs from the same country can’t play each other and clubs that competed in the same group phase can’t be drawn against each other. Ties will be played in February with deciding legs to be at home for the group winning sides.
Manchester United will play either:
Galatasaray, Olympiakos, Schalke, Zenit St Petersburg or AC Milan
Chelsea will play either:
Bayer Leverkusen, Galatasaray, Olympiakos, Zenit St Petersburg or AC Milan
Manchester City will play either:
Real Madrid, Paris Saint Germain, Dortmund, Atletico Madrid or Barcelona
Arsenal will play either:
Real Madrid, Paris Saint Germain, Bayern Munich, Atletico Madrid or Barcelona