Chelsea out of Champions League

Champions League winners Chelsea became the first holders to exit in the group stages.

New Chelsea coach Rafa Benitez. Picture: AFP

LONDON - Chelsea became European chumps on Wednesday despite a rip-roaring but irrelevant finale.

A 6-1 rout of Nordsjaelland at Stamford Bridge handed beleaguered interim manager Rafael Benitez some respite but it came with the unwanted distinction of becoming the first Champions League holders to exit at the group stage.

Chelsea's victory, their first since the Spaniard replaced the sacked Roberto Di Matteo a fortnight ago, mattered little with Juventus reaching the last 16 thanks to a 1-0 win in Ukraine over Shakhtar Donetsk.

A second-half own goal was enough for the Italians to secure top spot in Group E and progress alongside Shakhtar.

Chelsea, who needed to win and hope Juventus lost, head into the Europa League with the West London aristocrats unlikely to be celebrating Thursday night football that Europe's second-tier competition will bring in the New Year.

Galatasaray and Celtic claimed the other two knockout stage places decided in the final round of group matches and there were injury concerns for Barcelona after Argentine World Player of the Year Lionel Messi suffered a bruised knee.

Juventus ended Shakhtar's unbeaten home run stretching to 16 games in all competitions with Olexandr Kucher, trying to stop Sebastian Giovinco meeting a cross from Stephan Lichtsteiner, putting through his own net for the only goal on 56 minutes.

Celtic struck a blow for Scottish football by reaching the last 16 for the first time since the 2007-08 season thanks to a 2-1 home victory over Spartak Moscow which secured runners-up spot behind Barcelona in Group G.

Benfica, who began the night level on points with Celtic, could not find the breakthrough they needed in a 0-0 draw away against below-strength Barcelona, who will be more worried about Messi's injury.

Messi, a second-half substitute, collapsed to the ground clutching the back of the knee after colliding with Benfica goalkeeper Artur and looked to be in severe discomfort as he was taken from the pitch.

Second-half goals from Burak Yilmaz and Aydin Yilmaz helped Galatasaray come from behind to win 2-1 at Braga and go through as Group H runners-up behind Premier League leaders Manchester United.

The draw for the last 16 takes place on December 20.