It was another dramatic night in the Champions League as the teams set to feature in the Round of 16 became a little clearer.
Lionel Messi celebrated his 700th game as a Barcelona player with his 613th goal as the Spanish giants collided with Borussia Dortmund.
Elsewhere Chelsea were involved in a thriller with Valencia and Liverpool were held against a team they have struggled to beat for two seasons now in Napoli.
Valencia 2-2 Chelsea
Daniel Wass’s late equaliser denied Chelsea a place in the last 16 of the Champions League as a profligate Valencia fought back for a 2-2 draw that maintains both sides’ chances of reaching the knockout stages.
A wide open game swung the visitors’ way after Carles Soler’s opener for Valencia as Mateo Kovacic and Christian Pulisic put Chelsea in pole position to avenge their 1-0 defeat on home soil to the Spaniards on matchday one.
However, after Kepa Arrizabalaga had saved Dani Parejo’s penalty, Wass’s cross flummoxed the Spanish international to give Valencia a lifeline.
Victory at home to Lille in two weeks’ time will ensure Frank Lampard’s men make the last 16 and they were thankful to five huge misses from the hosts to escape with a point on a night that could also prove costly as top-scorer Tammy Abraham was stretchered off at half-time.
Lille 0-2 Ajax
Ajax closed in on a Champions League last 16 spot on Wednesday when the Dutch giants won 2-0 at Lille to open a two-point lead at the top of Group H with just one round of games to play.
Hakim Ziyech scored the fastest goal of this year’s competition inside two minutes at the French strugglers with Quincy Promes hitting his fourth of the tournament on the hour mark.
Four-time European champions Ajax have 10 points from five games, two more than Valencia and Chelsea who fought out a 2-2 draw in Spain earlier in the day.
Ajax host Valencia, who they have already defeated 3-0, in their concluding fixture next month.
Barcelona 3-1 Borussia Dortmund
Lionel Messi marked his 700th game for Barcelona by scoring his 613th goal on Wednesday as the Catalans beat Borussia Dortmund 3-1 to go through as group winners to the Champions League last 16.
Messi celebrated his anniversary in style by putting Barca two up before half-time, between laying on a pair of assists for Luis Suarez and Antoine Griezmann in a comfortable victory at Camp Nou.
England’s Jadon Sancho fired into the top corner for a late Dortmund consolation but the visitors were largely disappointing and now face a fight with Inter Milan to make it out of Group F.
Slavia Prague 1-3 Inter Milan
A brace from Lautaro Martinez and a Romelu Lukaku goal handed Inter Milan a 3-1 win at Slavia Prague on Wednesday, keeping the Italians in contention for the Champions League last 16.
Martinez opened the scoring on 19 minutes after Lukaku had picked up a pass, fought off two challenges and took the ball into the box before cutting it back to the unmarked Argentinian. Martinez scored in the fourth consecutive Champions League game for Inter.
Tomas Soucek levelled for Slavia from the penalty spot in the 37th minute after Stefan de Vrij had brought down striker Peter Olayinka in the box.
Polish referee Szymon Marciniak first ignored the foul and let play continue with Lukaku scoring on the counter-attack before seeing his goal chalked off as the video referee took centre stage.
Lukaku added Inter’s second nine minutes from the end after Slavia’s last man Michal Frydrych slipped and let him round keeper Ondrej Kolar.
Martinez then volleyed home his second as Lukaku robbed the Slavia defence and provided him with a superb cross in the 88th minute.
Liverpool 1-1 Napoli
Liverpool were made to wait to secure their place in the last 16 of the Champions League as Napoli secured a vital point with a 1-1 draw at Anfield on Wednesday.
Dries Mertens threatened to inflict Liverpool’s first home defeat in the Champions or Premier League since April 2017 with a sweetly struck opener midway through the first half.
Dejan Lovren’s header protected that proud unbeaten run, but the holders still need to get at least a point away to Salzburg on December 10 to secure their passage into the last 16.
Napoli remain a point behind Liverpool, but are well-placed to reach the knockout stages as they host winless Genk in two weeks’ time.
Genk 1-4 RB Salzburg
Teenager Erling Haaland grabbed another goal and another record in the Champions League as Red Bull Salzburg thrashed Genk 4-1 on Wednesday.
The 19-year-old Norwegian striker, who came on as a substitute in the 62nd minute, first delivered an assist and then rounded off his team’s win three minutes from time.
Haaland took his Champions League tally to eight goals and became the first teenager in the history of the competition to score in five consecutive appearances.
He had already set a single-season scoring record for teenagers in the Champions League.
RB Leipzig 2-2 Benfica
RB Leipzig qualified for the Champions League knockout stages for the first time on Wednesday after Emil Forsberg fired them back from two goals down to draw 2-2 with Benfica.
The German outfit looked set to lose but Forsberg pulled a goal back from the penalty spot in the 90th minute before hitting the leveller five minutes into added time.
Leipzig are three points clear of Zenit St Petersburg and Lyon at the top of Group G with one match to play and cannot be removed from the top two due to a superior head-to-head record.
Zenit St Petersburg 2-0 Lyon
yon missed out on a chance to seal a Champions League last 16 place with a match to spare after losing 2-0 at Zenit Saint Petersburg.
A victory in Group G over the Russian Premier League leaders would have claimed a knockout spot for Rudi Garcia’s men but they now need results in other matches to go their way in order to qualify.
Lyon are third behind Zenit, level with the Russians on seven points, ahead of their final group match on December 10 against leaders Leipzig, who are two points clear at the top.
The win for the home side, who travel to Benfica on the final day, maintains their hopes of reaching the next round.
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