Champions League: Madrid breeze through to last 16
Karim Benzema secured a 1-0 win for Real Madrid against a toothless Liverpool.
MADRID - Holders Real Madrid breezed into the last 16 of the Champions League with two games to spare when a Karim Benzema strike secured a 1-0 win in their Group B match at home to a toothless Liverpool on Tuesday.
Benzema clipped a Marcelo cross high into the net from close range in the 27th minute, the France forward's fifth goal in this season's competition, to maintain Real's perfect record in the section with 12 points from four games.
It was the record 10-times European champions' 12th win in a row in all competitions and followed their 3-0 success against Liverpool at Anfield last month.
"We have done our homework and we can now focus on La Liga, the King's Cup and the Club World Cup," Real captain and goalkeeper Iker Casillas said in an interview with Spanish television.
"We are very pleased," added the Spain international, who was making a record 144th Champions League appearance.
"We have had some very tough and difficult matches recently and once we went 1-0 ahead we controlled the game."
A major surprise was the fact that Cristiano Ronaldo failed to get on the scoresheet and he remains one goal short of the Champions League scoring record of 71 set by former Real and Schalke 04 forward Raul.
FC Basel are well placed to join Real in the knockout round after they beat Ludogorets 4-0 to move onto six points, with Liverpool and the Bulgarian champions on three each.
ANDERLECHT FIGHT ON
A remarkable late collapse scuppered Arsenal's hopes of qualifying early for the Champions League last 16 as Aleksandar Mitrovic's 90th-minute goal earned Anderlecht a deserved 3-3 draw in Group D on Tuesday.
A win would have ensured a place in the knockout rounds for the 15th season in succession and Arsenal appeared home and dry with fine goals by Alexis Sanchez and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain building on Mikel Arteta's 25th-minute penalty.
But Anderlecht, deprived of three points a fortnight ago when Arsenal struck twice late on for a 2-1 victory, produced a late sting on a rainy night in north London, scoring three times in the last 29 minutes to keep alive their remote hopes of progressing.
Anthony Vanden Borre began the salvage job in the 61st minute before he converted a penalty to induce jitters in the home crowd. Substitute Mitrovic's late header then completed an astonishing comeback for Besnik Hasi's youthful side.
After seeing the door to the knockout rounds slammed shut, Arsenal can now realistically only hope for the runners-up spot as they have seven points to the 12 of Borussia Dortmund with two games remaining.
JUVENTUS CLINCH DRAMATIC WIN
Juventus scored twice in a minute as they came from behind to clinch a dramatic 3-2 win over Olympiakos after Andrea Pirlo had celebrated his 100th Champions League appearance by scoring from a characteristically effortless free kick on Tuesday.
Pirlo's heir apparent Paul Pogba scored the winner as Juve revived their campaign in Group A although they could regret a stoppage time penalty miss by Arturo Vidal which would have given them the better head-to-head record against the Greek champions.
As it was, Olympiakos, who had Juventus in real trouble when they took a 2-1 lead through Congolese midfielder Delvin N'Dinga in the second half, will come out on top if the two sides finish level on points thanks to their 1-0 win two weeks ago.
Olympiakos goalkeeper Roberto gave away an unlucky own goal to make it 2-2 but then turned hero again as he somehow managed to turn Vidal's ferocious effort onto the bar.
Both teams have six points from four games, three behind leaders Atletico Madrid.
ALL RESULTS - TUESDAY
Juventus 3-2 Olympiakos
Malmö FF 0-2 Atletico Madrid
FC Basel 4-0 Ludogorets Razgrad
Real Madrid 1-0 Liverpool
Zenit St Petersburg 1-2 Bayer Leverkusen
Benfica 1-0 Monaco
Arsenal 3-3 Anderlecht
Borrussia Dortmund 4-1 Galatasaray
FIXTURES - WEDNESDAY
Bayern Munich V Roma
Manchester City V CSKA Moscow
Ajax V Barcelona
PSG V Apoel Nicosia
NK Maribor V Chelsea
Sporting V Schalke
Athletic Bilbao V FC Porto
Shaktar Donetsk V BATE Borisov