Champions League Roundup, Nov. 23

BY foxsports • November 23, 2010

AC Milan and Marseille secured spots in the Champions League knockout phase with a game to spare Tuesday as Arsenal's progress was stalled by a surprise loss at Braga.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Ronaldinho scored to give Milan a 2-0 victory over Auxerre in Group G, which will be topped by Real Madrid after the nine-time champions routed Ajax 4-0.

Group F was also settled by Marseille beating 10-man Spartak Moscow 3-0 and Chelsea taking top spot by rallying to beat Zilina 2-1.

Arsenal had thrashed Braga 6-0 earlier in Group H but Matheus' late double secured a 2-0 win for the Portuguese side. Shakhtar Donetsk went top with a 3-0 win at Partizan Belgrade.

In Group E, AS Roma beat Bayern Munich 3-2 to take a big step to joining last season's beaten finalists in the next phase.

Milan, the seven-time champions, had only won one of its last four Champions League matches before traveling to Auxerrre.

But Ibrahimovic set about improving that dismal run by scoring his 11th goal of the season in the 64th minute.

Clarence Seedorf's cross for Robinho was deflected into the Sweden striker's path on the edge of the penalty area and he struck powerfully into the net.

Ronaldinho replaced Ibrahimovic in the 85th and struck with a curled shot at the far post in stoppage time.

"We keep getting stronger," Ibrahimovic said. "It was important to advance with a game to spare so we can rest. At the end I was so tired I couldn't move my head."

Four-time champion Ajax won't be joining Milan in the draw for the knockout phase after Madrid winger Cristiano Ronaldo scored twice to pile the pressure on coach Martin Jol with an emphatic victory.

Karim Benzema fired into the roof of the net from the edge of area to put group winner Madrid ahead in the 36th after Mesut Oezil skillfully laid the ball into his path.

Alvaro Arbeloa doubled the Spanish side's advantage with a fierce shot in the 44th.

Arbeloa then set up Ronaldo to make it 3-0 with a close-range shot and the Portugal winger made it 18 goals in 19 games by scoring from the penalty spot in the 80th.

Xabi Alonso and Sergio Ramos were both sent off late in the game after picking up second yellow cards for time wasting. It means they will miss Madrid's final group game and have a clean slate for the last 16 - but coach Jose Mourinho denied the bookings were deliberate.

In Moscow, Marseille's opener came after Gabriel Heinze redirected Loic Remy's high cross from the left into the center of the box where Mathieu Valbuena, with his back to the net, turned to hit the right upper corner of the net.

A couple of lucky bounces helped Remy extend the visitors' lead. He first tried to shoot from just outside the area but mis-hit the ball, which instead looped over the defense allowing Remy to chase it down and score with a shot that hit both posts before trickling over the line.

After Spartak had striker Welliton sent off in the 64th for pushing Souleymane Diawara, Brandao added a third goal.

A shock appeared to be on the cards in the other Group F match when Babatounde Bello put Zilina ahead at Chelsea.

But Daniel Sturridge leveled for the Premier League champions in the 51st and Malouda then stretched to guide in Didier Drogba's nod-down to complete Chelsea's recovery.

It was a miserable night, though, for Chelsea's English rival, Arsenal, which would have qualified by drawing with Braga.

But with six minutes left on the clock, Matheus broke clear on a counterattack and left-footed the ball past Arsenal goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski. He then beat three defenders to score his second in injury time.

Arsenal is now level on nine points with Braga in second place in Group H.

Shakhtar Donetsk's progress from the group is still uncertain despite scoring three times in 16 second-half minutes to overpower Partizan Belgrade and go top.

The Ukrainian champions took the lead in the 52nd minute after Taras Stepanenko's powerful close-range shot went in under the bar.

Jadson added another before Eduardo netted from close range in the 68th to complete the win.

At the Stadio Olimpico in Rome, the home side fell behind to first-half goals from Munich's Mario Gomez.

But Roma fought back after the break with goals from Marco Borriello, Daniele De Rossi and Francesco Totti.

Roma will qualify next month by drawing with CFR Cluj or it can afford to lose if Basel fails to beat Bayern Munich. Federico Almerares's goal secured a 1-0 win for Basel against Cluj on Tuesday.


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