Olympiakos, Bayer reach KO stage
Bayer Leverkusen won 1-0 at Real Sociedad on Tuesday to reach the last 16 of the Champions League along with group-leader Manchester United.
The Germans were more determined than their Spanish hosts at the Anoeta Stadium, and their unrelenting pressure to score finally paid off early in the second half. Leverkusen finally took advantage of Real’s poor defending on set plays in the 49th minute as Omer Toprak slammed home a loose ball from a corner that Real failed to clear.
United’s 1-0 win over Shakhtar Donetsk ensured the English champions clinched Group A with 14 points, and allowed Leverkusen to overtake the Shakhtar to finish second with 10 points.
Sociedad finished last in the group with one point and without a victory in the competition.
Olympiakos beat 8-man Anderlecht 3-1 to advance, edging out two-time champion Benfica, whose 2-1 victory over Paris St. Germain was not enough. Javier Saviola scored twice and missed a spot kick as the Greek side beat eight-man Anderlecht 3-1, with Vladimir Weiss also failing with a penalty before Alejandro Dominguez made it third time lucky from 12 yards in the last minute.
Olympiacos could have done without the stress on a night when they needed to win to assure themselves of progression but, even though Sacha Kljestan scored for Anderlecht, Saviola’s old club Benfica were made to settle for the Europa League as Olympiacos progressed.
Super-sub Tomas Wagner scored a last-minute winner to fire Viktoria Plzen into the Europa League on the back of a shock 2-1 Champions League win over nine-man CSKA Moscow.
It had been a campaign to forget for Plzen, who were pointless heading into Tuesday night’s Group D game, but they knew that victory would be enough to see them pip CSKA to third place on their head-to-head record. The Czechs were determined to score in the first half but failed to make the breakthrough – an honour which fell to Moscow’s Ahmed Musa shortly after the break.
The game then swung on Alan Dzagoev’s dismissal for violent conduct and Daniel Kolar promptly equalised to put Plzen back on course towards taking a first point. All three would stay at the Doosan Arena, though, with Wagner rifling in a late strike before Pontus Wernbloom compounded CSKA’s misery by getting himself sent off.
Plzen would just edge an end-to-end half, their desire to close out a disappointing campaign in style apparent from the off.
The Associated Press was used in this report.