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Man City crash out as Arsenal qualify for last-16

ESPN staff
November 21, 2012
Karim Benzema drifted in unmarked to score the opener for Real Madrid © Getty Images
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Manchester City's Champions League adventure is over after they failed to beat Real Madrid on Wednesday, but Arsenal can look forward to the last-16 draw after they qualified with victory over Montpellier.

English champions Manchester City had to win at home to Madrid in order to extend their campaign at the Etihad, but an early strike from Karim Benzema earned Madrid a 1-1 draw and left Roberto Mancini's men with only the Europa League left to target.

City are stuck on three points from five games, knowing they must win their last fixture at Dortmund to avoid total elimination from Europe.

It took ten minutes for Benzema to expose Mancini's decision to play Maicon as a wing-back, drifting behind the Brazilian to meet a searching Angel Di Maria cross for 1-0. Maicon then twice failed to stop Cristiano Ronaldo deliveries from the left, but Sami Khedira shot wide on both occasions.

City's embarrassing defending continued, with Ronaldo running clean through only to see his dink over Joe Hart cleared off the line. When the ball returned to the Portuguese's feet, Hart did a fine job smothering him at the second attempt.

A first effort from City did not come until the 21st minute, when Sergio Aguero forced Iker Casillas to tip over, and by contrast Khedira should have been celebrating his hat-trick when Hart dived at his feet to leave the midfielder frustrated for a third time.

Maicon, doing his best work away from his own area, toed a ball wide and David Silva danced past two defenders to set up Edin Dzeko - who sliced hopelessly off target, but City's desperation for a goal grew as Aguero and Dzeko wasted further chances the other side of the interval.

An equaliser finally arrived 15 minutes from time, with Alvaro Arbeloa sent off for bringing down Aguero inside the area, and the Argentine forward rolled home the penalty for 1-1. City pressed for a winner, but Carlos Tevez could not get his toe to their clearest opening.

Dortmund join Madrid in the knockout stages after they thumped Ajax 4-1 in Amsterdam. Goals from Marco Reus, Mario Gotze and Robert Lewandowski (2) ensured the Bundesliga outfit finish top of Group D ahead of the final game.

It took less than ten minutes for the Germans to take the lead, with Gotze drifting forward before slipping the ball to Reus, who scored his third Champions League goal on his travels this season. Gotze was enjoying a magical night, waltzing past defenders at will, and he netted the second ten minutes from the break.

There was still time for Lewandowski to bag a third before half-time, showing his opportunistic nature to capitalise on goalkeeping hesitancy, and the same man netted his second midway through the second half before Danny Hoesen's token response.

Arsenal were guaranteed qualification if they could beat Montpellier - in addition to an Olympiakos defeat at Schalke - and that exact scenario played out as the Gunners triumphed 2-0 thanks to Jack Wilshere and Lukas Podolski.

Arsene Wenger's side have reached the magical 10-point marker, viewed as the tally that usually secures qualification, and they can now focus on attempting to snatch top spot in Group B from Schalke, who are a point better off.

After a sloppy start Arsenal almost took the lead when Laurent Koscielny crashed a header against the bar. Instead they waited until early in the second period to score their 400th goal in European football, Wilshere arriving onto Olivier Giroud's nod-down to lift the ball over the advancing keeper.

Giroud then played the role of creator again as his one-two sent the ball the way of Podolski, but the German still had plenty to do as he sent a thunderous volley past Geoffrey Jourdren from the edge of the area.

Schalke stand to secure the 'easier' draw in the last-16 as they top the group with a game to play. The Bundesliga club beat Olympiakos 1-0 thanks to Christian Fuchs' 77th-minute winner, meaning the Greeks will drop into the Europa League.

Dortmund ran riot at Ajax © PA Photos
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Elsewhere, Group C has been won by Malaga, who remain unbeaten in five matches following a 2-2 draw with Zenit St Petersburg. The Spaniards now cannot be overtaken and have a better head-to-head record against AC Milan.

Strikes from Diego Buonanote and Sebastian Fernandez had Malaga ahead inside ten minutes in Russia. Danny responded four minutes after half-time for Zenit before Viktor Fayzulin equalised three minutes from the end.

AC Milan join Malaga in the knockout rounds after they won a potentially tricky away encounter at Anderlecht 3-1. Anderlecht and Zenit will now fight for the Europa League spot.

Stephan El Shaarawy was the man to break the deadlock two minutes into the second period, showing deft control at the far post to score against the run of play. Anderlecht then lost Bram Nuytinck to a red card, and from the resulting free-kick Philippe Mexes scored a wonder goal with an overhead kick for the Italians, before Alexandre Pato made things safe after Tom De Sutter's brief reply.

In Group A, Porto remain set to qualify top after they beat Dinamo Zagreb 3-0. Lucho Gonzalez, Joao Moutinho and Silvestre Varela scored the Porto goals.

And Paris St Germain confirmed their place in the last-16 with a 2-0 win at Dynamo Kiev. Ezequiel Lavezzi opened the scoring with a delicate dink from Zlatan Ibrahimovic's pass, and then added another in the 52nd minute.

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