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SPORTS
08 Dec 2011
CHAMPIONS LEAGUE ROUND-UP

Manchester's nightmare scenario became a grim reality as both United and City were sent crashing out of the UEFA Champions League before the knockout stage.

Failing to progress from a group containing Otelul Galati, Benfica and Basel must surely rank as one of the lowest points in the managerial career of Sir Alex Ferguson, who could only look on stony-faced as his side were beaten 2-1 away by the Swiss side to slip below their opponents and into the Europa League.

City, meanwhile, fulfilled their side of the bargain by defeating Group A winners Bayern Munich at the Etihad Stadium, but Napoli's success away to whipping boys Villarreal meant the efforts of Roberto Mancini's men were in vain.

Lyon produced an astonishing seven-goal display to book their place in the knockout phase, while CKSA Moscow upset the odds to join them with victory away to Inter Milan.


Manchester Untited travelled to Basel needing only a point to progress to the last 16 but slumped to a shock 2-1 defeat which will haunt Ferguson and his players for years to come.

The Red Devils made a nightmare start as Nemanja Vidic and Chris Smalling clashed to leave the latter in a heap, allowing Xherdan Shaqiri to drill the ball back across goal where David de Gea's weak clearance was returned with interest by Marco Streller.

Wayne Rooney missed a glorious chance to level on the half-hour mark as he completely missed his kick just two yards out before captain Vidic was stretchered off after twisting his knee.

United were inches away from levelling on the hour mark when Nani's cross was hacked against the underside of his own crossbar by Markus Steinhoefer, but their hopes of a late leveller were snuffed out when Shaqiri's cross went all the way through to the back post where Alexander Frei stooped to conquer.

Phil Jones bundled home in the 89th minute after Federico Macheda struck the bar from point-blank range, but there was to be no dramatic leveller in the three minutes of added time.

Basel's unexpected, but fully deserved, victory means they join Benfica in the last 16 as the Portuguese outfit confirmed their position at the top of Group C thanks to Oscar Cardozo's solitary early strike against pointless Otelul Galati.
Crushed

Manchester City's Champions League adventure ended at the first hurdle despite their home victory over Bayern Munich and they will now have the scant consolation of a place in the Europe League.

David Silva's stunning strike after 37 minutes raised City hopes as he took Edin Dzeko's clever flick in his stride before unleashing a curling effort from outside the box that eluded the diving Hans-Jorg Butt and nestled in the bottom corner.

And when Yaya Toure made it 2-0 early in the second period, poking home after a flowing passing move involving Dzeko and Sergio Aguero, there was real belief that they could achieve the miracle demanded by Mancini.

But just as those dreams began to form, they were crushed in an instant as news filtered through from Spain that Napoli had taken the lead against Villarreal, with Gokhan Inler's powerful drive from outside the box giving the Serie A side the lead.

And their progress as runners up was confirmed when Marek Hamsik struck with 13 minutes remaining to consign City's star-studded squad to the continent's second-tier competition.

The most astonishing result of the evening came in Group D, as Lyon destroyed 10-man Dinamo Zagreb 7-1 to leapfrog Ajax in the standings on goal difference, with the Dutch side going down 3-0 at home to table-topping Real Madrid.

Lyon looked to be facing mission impossible at kick-off, but produced an astonishing second half display where they hit six goals to secure second spot, with Bafetimbi Gomis scoring four.

Dinamo saw Jerko Leko dismissed after being booked twice in the opening 28 minutes but then took the lead through Mateo Kovacic, only for Gomis to level.

The striker then took centre stage with three more goals after the break, while Maxime Gonalons, Lisandro Lopez and Jimmy Brian also got in on the act.

Over in Amsterdam, Ajax supporters could only watch in horror as their side were beaten 3-0 by a much-changed Real Madrid side and regular updates from Zagreb came through.

With 'El Clasico' on the horizon and his side already assured of top spot, Jose Mourinho rang the changes with Jose Callejon bagging a brace and Gonzalo Higuan also on target to extend their 100 per cent record.
Rocketed

CKSA Moscow rocketed from last place in Group B into second with a shock 2-1 victory away to section winners Inter Milan, courtesy of Vasili Berezutsky's winner three minutes from time.

Seydou Doumbia fired the Russian side in front five minutes after the interval, only for Esteban Cambiasso to level immediately, but with time running out Berezutsky hit the winner.

Lille and Trabzonspor went into their clash knowing a victory should see them through, but they cancelled each other out in a goalless draw that left the Turkish club in the Europa League and the French outfit in last place.

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