Manchester City 2-2 Ajax
Aguero nets equaliser but hosts edge closer to elimination
Despite coming back from two goals down, the Premier League holders are on the brink of failing to advance to the knock-out stages for the second consecutive season
The pressure intensified on Roberto Mancini as Manchester City drew 2-2 with Ajax to face almost certain elimination from the Champions League.
Mancini’s side can still mathematically qualify for the knock-out stages but it is a long shot after they failed to beat the Group D underdogs at home.
Ajax captain Siem de Jong took advantage of City’s shocking defending at corners to put the visitors 2-0 up after 17 minutes.
Yaya Toure reduced the deficit soon afterwards with an acrobatic volley to give his team hope they could still be in the competition by the time they host Real Madrid in three weeks’ time.
And Sergio Aguero scored the equaliser with 16 minutes left, but Ajax defended stoutly to keep out a late City charge.
The draw leaves City rooted to the bottom of the toughest of the eight Champions League groups, with just two points, five adrift of second-placed Borussia Dortmund.
Mancini's team teeter on the precipice, requiring victories from the final two matches - home to Real and away to Dortmund - and other results to go their way to be involved in the competition in February.
For this must-win fixture, Man City made three changes from the team that drew 0-0 at West Ham last Saturday, with Aguero, Pablo Zabaleta and the fit-again Javi Garcia replacing Mario Balotelli, Edin Dzeko and the injured Kolo Toure.
With City experiencing a glut of defensive injuries, there was one unfamiliar face on the substitute’s bench in the form of 18-year-old centre-back Courtney Meppen-Walter, a member of City’s development squad.
The rookie could hardly have defended worse than his more senior colleagues early on as Ajax seized upon some dreadful marking to score twice from corners.
After nine minutes, Matija Nastasic demonstrated how raw he is at this level by, first, making a horrible hash of his clearance to concede a corner from a low cross and, then, failing to deal with the resulting set piece, prodding the ball back across goal to allow De Jong to loft in the opener.
Eight minutes later, alarmingly lax marking from City allowed De Jong to steal in to meet a near-post inswinger and guide his free header past Joe Hart.
Ajax may not have sold out the away end but the visiting fans were by now bouncing up and down in co-ordinated jollity as the Group D underdogs scented a famous win and an improbable passage into the Champions League knock-out stages.
Toure pulled one back for City after 22 minutes with a fabulous piece of skill, chesting down a cross at the back post and then volleying past Kenneth Vermeer in one swift movement.
The home side looked dangerous every time they attacked but a brilliant clearance from Ricardo van Rhijn and Zabaleta’s failure to take advantage of a fine headed opportunity meant that Ajax ended an even half with a 2-1 advantage.
Mancini went all-out attack after the break, replacing Garcia with Balotelli and it was a move that paid dividends as the Italian’s flick-on set up Aguero for the equaliser.
Oddly, the Argentine’s footing had let him down on a number of occasions in good positions during the game but he managed to stay on his feet after 74 minutes when Balotelli headed on Hart’s goal-kick to slickly level the scores.
Real Madrid 2-2 Borussia Dortmund
Ozil denies German champions from securing famous double
A thrilling contest from start to finish saw Los Blancos steal a point at the death after being frustrated by the visitors for long spells throughout the match
Real Madrid left it late to secure a 2-2 draw against Borussia Dortmund in a pulsating Champions League clash at Santiago Bernabeu on Tuesday.
A display of defensive diligence and deadly counterattacking seemed set to send the German outfit to their second victory over Jose Mourinho's men, but a free kick from Mesut Ozil in the dying moments salvaged a point for the hosts.
Marco Reus gave Dortmund the lead in the 28th minute, before Pepe levelled the score six minutes later. However, another charge forward on the break saw Alvaro Arbeloa turn into his own net moments before half time.
The visitors ramped up their defensive intensity in the second half and seemed set to frustrate the hosts into submission but, with stoppage time looming, Ozil stepped up to bury a set-piece to split the points and keep things tight at the top of Group D.
Mourinho made two changes from the 4-0 win over Real Zaragoza. Xabi Alonso returned from suspension to replace Michael Essien, while Raphael Varane came in for Raul Albiol in the home side’s defence.
Jurgen Klopp meanwhile opted to name the same XI that laboured to a 0-0 draw with Stuttgart in the Bundesliga, with captain Sebastian Kehl, who was forced off with a facial injury over the weekend, starting with a protective face mask.
Madrid could have been ahead as early as two minutes into the game had Gonzalo Higuain taken a better first touch after racing through on goal, but he allowed Roman Weidenfeller to remove the danger.
Dortmund’s counterattack was shaping up to be quite a threat for the home side, and Marcel Schmelzer nearly took advantage of a gap in defence, but Iker Casillas was able to make a smart save.
Los Blancos found it hard to create much space in the opposition half, as the pressure from the visitors off the ball forced them into a number of mistakes in possession.
In a rare successful attack, Higuain managed to spring the BVB offside trap, but his first time cross to Cristiano Ronaldo at the far post was hit with too much purchase for the Portugal international to steer it home.
Then with 28 minutes gone, Madrid were made to feel the true potency of Dortmund on the break. A perfectly-placed flicked header from Robert Lewandowski released Reus on the left, and the 23-year-old smashed a fine half-volley past Casillas.
However, the goal seemed to finally click los Blancos into gear. After Dortmund had lost possession in their own half, the ball was worked wide to Ozil, who sent a fantastic cross to the far post, and Pepe charged in to plant a punishing header into the roof of the net.
Madrid were well on top following their equaliser, and it seemed to be only a matter of time before they struck again. A last ditch tackle from Neven Subotic on Ronaldo sparked BVB on the beak, and Varane was forced into a goal-saving challenge of his own.
But, with seconds to go until half-time, Dortmund carved them apart again. Lewandowski set things in motion with another flicked header, Kevin Grosskreutz took the ball in stride and centred across the face of goal. Gotze and Arbeloa challenged for it, and the Spain full-back diverted it past Casillas.
Mourinho brought on Jose Callejon for Higuain at half time, and moments after the restart, it appeared that he had struck gold with the change. The substitute bent a fine finish past Weidenfeller, but the goal was chalked off after he had strayed inches offside.
It was a much better start to the second half from the hosts, and Ozil’s cross-shot from the flanks forced Weidenfeller into a quick parry at his near post.
Dortmund were able to regroup in defence though, and as the second half wore on, Madrid found it harder to create clear cut chances, despite their dominance in possession.
Cracks began to appear in the visitors' defence as the match entered its closing stages, but los Blancos were unable to apply the finishing touch as Dortmund managed to hang on.
But with one minute of regulation remaining, just when it looked like there was no way back for Madrid, Ozil waved Ronaldo off a free kick and bent the set piece expertly into the bottom corner past the scrambling Weidenfeller to give the home side the breakthrough right at the end.
Schalke 2-2 Arsenal
Struggling Gunners collapse after Walcott & Giroud strikes
The visitors were two goals to the good in the first half, but a clinical finish from Klaas-Jan Huntelaar and a second-half effort from Jefferson Farfan earned the hosts a point
Arsenal were pegged back from two goals up by Schalke for a draw as they earned a valuable point away from home in Group B of the Champions League.
The Gunners took the lead with Theo Walcott tapping into an empty net, and doubled their advantage as Olivier Giroud nodded home, but a goal from Klass-Jan Huntelaar halved the deficit before Jefferson Farfan levelled the scores.
Despite late pressure from Schalke, Arsene Wenger's side stayed strong to secure a vital point to stay second in their group.
Schalke began as expected, with Huntelaar as striker and support on the flanks from Ibrahim Afellay and Farfan. Lewis Holtby, who continues to be linked with a move to the Premier League, began in the centre for the German side.
Arsene Wenger chose to replace the under-fire left-back Andre Santos with Laurent Koscielny, as the French defender moved centrally, with Thomas Vermaelen filling in on the flank.
Elsewhere, Walcott earned a starting place following his lively cameo against Manchester United, with Aaron Ramsey dropping out of the squad entirely.
The hosts started strongly, with Afellay testing Vito Mannone with a low shot that the keeper palmed away, before Benedikt Howedes came close with a header from a corner, but his effort drifted onto the top of the net.
And somewhat against the run of play, the visitors took the lead through Walcott, a man who has stated his preference for playing through the middle this season.
Giroud was sent through by a suicidal header from Roman Neustadter, but as he elected to try and chip Lars Unnerstall, he kicked the floor. As Howedes made a last-ditch challenge, Walcott sped in to round the keeper via a deflection and tap the ball into the empty net.
The Gunners extended their lead in the 26th minute, with Giroud nodding home his first Champions League goal after some fine work from Lukas Podolski.
After a good move involving Walcott, Jack Wilshere and Giroud, the ball found its way to Podolski on the left wing. The striker slipped, but his recovery was so quick that it surprised the defence, as he turned and swung in a great cross for the unmarked Frenchman to score.
Huntelaar fired Schalke back into the game in first-half stoppage time, with an unnerving finish into the bottom corner after some nice work from the midfield, with Holtby's assist a fine pass.
Giroud could have added another shortly after the break, but volleyed over from another Podolski cross, while Huntelaar missed a sitter at the other end, with Mannone saving well.
A controversial moment came on the hour mark as Podolski looked to be through on goal, but play was brought back with Marco Hoger down injured. The striker vented his frustrations and was booked for dissent, while Hoger was subbed for Kyriakos Papadopoulos.
The hosts were level in the 67th minute though, as a cross in from the left that Holtby couldn't direct goalwards was pounced on by Farfan, with his shot deflected in by Vermaelen.
Schalke generally dominated the rest of the game, but looked susceptible to Arsenal's counterattack, and while Walcott had a very late effort saved, neither side could claim all three points in an enthralling encounter.
Paris Saint-Germain 4-0 Dinamo Zagreb
Second-half surge edges French closer to qualification
The Ligue 1 side recovered from a sluggish start to record a convincing win over their opponents, with the Croatian champions eliminated from the group stage
Paris Saint-Germain cruised to a comfortable 4-0 win over Dinamo Zagreb as the visitors were eliminated from the Champions League group stage in an entertaining game at the Parc des Princes.
The visitors started the Group A encounter brightly, before Alex opened the scoring against the run of play after 16 minutes. Despite maintaining pressure against the French runners-up, PSG eventually managed to undo the opposition, with three second-half goals.
All three were assisted by Zlatan Ibrahimovic, as Blaise Matuidi, Jeremy Menez and Guillaume Hoarau all scored to ensure that qualification is within sight for the capital club.
The hosts, expected to be re-invigorated after their shock 2-1 defeat to Saint-Etienne at the weekend, were too sloppy and disjointed in the opening proceedings, as Ante Cacic's men unexpectedly asserted their authority early on.
A defensive slip by Alex almost invited Marcelo Brozovic into an attacking chance, before Josip Pivaric latches onto a fine ball by Sammir on the left, and watched on as his fizzing low effort whisked past Salvatore Sirigu's goal by inches.
It took a little while for les Parisiens to finally hit their stride, but even when they took the lead, they were not exactly out of second gear. From Jeremy Menez's corner, Zlatan Ibrahimovic helped on a pass towards centre-back Alex, whose fantastic half-volley evaded the reach of Ivan Kelava after 16 minutes.
The goal sought to appease a fervent and demanding home faithful, who were already booing their side before the breakthrough, and it could have been 2-0 after young midfielder Adrien Rabiot fired over the bar after good work by Mohamed Sissoko.
Carlo Ancelotti's side toiled, and while their performance was not exactly of the quality expected of a Champions League dark horse, they still managed to carve out opportunities as Ezequiel Lavezzi - back after a month out - slammed his effort in the side netting, despite a determined run.
The second half saw the French side step up their efforts and were almost rewarded as Menez tapped in after a great pass by substitute Marco Verratti, with the offside flag curtailing their progress.
Dinamo were still threatening, and were close in breaking their Champions League duck as an enterprising Sime Vrsaljko produced a dipping cross, with Ante Rukavina's header flying narrowly over Sirigu's goal.
Subsequently, the Croatian champions were easily overrided in a matter of minutes after two brilliant moments of magic from Ibrahimovic. Firstly, Lavezzi's surging run towards the 31-year-old saw him provide Blaise Matuidi with a fine through-ball, as the midfielder turned past the goalkeeper for 2-0 on the hour.
Four minutes later, the game was settled as Ante Cacic's men realised their exit from the group stage. Ibrahimovic was once more the creative output as he fed Menez who subsequently cut in past a defender and fired the ball past Kelava for 3-0.
A clearly dazed opposition were still feeling the effects of their setback, and were unable to get back into the game. It was 4-0 with 10 minutes to go after Matuidi played through Ibrahimovic, the Swede slipped before still managing to pick out substitute Hoarau who produced the tap-in to eliminate Dinamo.
PSG resume their Ligue 1 duties with a trip to champions Montpellier on Sunday, having amassed nine points in Group A. For Dinamo Zagreb, they will want to make a better impression of themselves with their two remaining games now effectively, a dead-rubber.
AC Milan 1-1 Malaga
Pato rescues point but visitors confirm spot in next round
The Brazilian put the first goal past the Andalusians in the competition this season, though the Boquerones will be content to have advanced with two games to spare
Malaga retained their unbeaten record in the Champions League as a 1-1 draw with AC Milan at San Siro was enough to confirm their progression to the Round of 16.
A win would have ensured progression from Group C for Manuel Pellegrini's men and that was certainly on the cards when Eliseu fired them ahead five minutes before half-time.
The second half brought a change in ethos from the visitors as they looked to defend their one-goal advantage. However, they were eventually beaten when Alexandre Pato headed in an equaliser in the 73rd minute but there was to be no winning goal for either side as the points were shared.
With both teams keen to push forward, it made for an extremely open start to the game in which possession was given away far too cheaply in midfield, stopping either side from getting into any sort of rhythm.
After Eliseu failed to beat Christian Abbiati with an absurdly ambitious chip, Milan began to take hold of the game and push their opponents back.
With 19 minutes on the clock, they tested the away keeper for the first time as Bojan showed fantastic feet to wriggle between a number of Malaga shirts out on the right. Having then cut in side to create the space, he lashed an effort on goal that, despite taking a deflection, was parried aside by the stretching Willy Caballero.
The keeper then produced another inspired save as he tipped Urby Emanuelson's precise 20-yard free-kick wide. The Dutchman's effort looked destined for the top corner but Caballero had other ideas, diving to his right and getting the slightest of touches to prevent a certain goal.
The Andalusians were largely restricted to playing on the counter-attack but they still looked dangerous when Joaquin, Eliseu and Isco linked up intricately.
It was one such combination that saw Malaga strike first, five minutes before half-time. Isco shifted the ball away from Nigel de Jong before threading a diagonal ball to put Eliseu in behind. The Portuguese struck the ball first time and found the bottom corner with Abbiati rooted.
Massimiliano Allegri's side came out for the second half with much more urgency and forged a decent opportunity soon after the restart. Bojan fed Emanuelson at the edge of the box but his shot was tame and rolled comfortably into the hands of Caballero.
The visitors then began to display why they have been so difficult to score against as they put two solid lines behind the ball and squeezed the space available to the Diavolo.
But as they began to sit deeper and deeper, the pressure became too much and they conceded for the first time in the tournament. Kevin Constant exposed Joaquin's defensive frailties as he charged to the line and swung in a deep cross which Pato nodded in at the back post.
Kevin-Prince Boateng came closest to netting a decisive goal moments later but he, like many of his team-mates, was thwarted by Caballero.
The draw puts Malaga in the hat for the next round, while second-placed Milan travel to Brussels in a fortnight to face Anderlecht in a must-win fixture.
Anderlecht 1-0 Zenit
Battling Belgians boost qualification hopes
The Congo striker finished off a superb team move in the first half to settle the clash in Brussels, leaving the visitors on the brink of exiting European competition this season
A first-half goal from Dieumerci Mbokani was enough for Anderlecht to grab all three points against a lacklustre Zenit side and keep their hopes of qualification for the knock-out rounds alive.
The Congo striker combined superbly with Sacha Kljestan before clipping the ball over Vyacheslav Malafeev to settle a tense match in Brussels, in which the Russian side struggled to create any chance of note in the absence of Brazil international Hulk.
Anderlecht surprisingly elected to leave Tom De Sutter on the bench despite his recent form in front of goal, with Mbokani starting as the lone striker in his stead.
Igor Denisov returned to the starting line-up for the hosts after he was welcomed back into the squad following his off-the-field disputes with the club, whilst Vladimir Bystrov replaced Brazil forward Hulk in support of striker Aleksandr Kerzhakov.
Mbokani was presented with the first opening of the match after less than a minute, when Milan Jovanovic's cross was missed by Tomas Hubocan and slmost bounced kindly for the striker, but he was unable to bring it under control.
Nicolas Lombaerts then had Silvio Proto worried when his snap-shot from the edge of the area almost wrong-footed the keeper, before Sergey Semak fired over the bar from close range after a superb turn and cross from Bystrov.
Anderlecht looked the brighter side in the opening exchanges and, with just over a quarter of an hour gone, Mbokani justified his selection with a superbly-taken strike, linking up with Kljestan on the edge of the box and dinking it over Malafeev to notch his side's first in the competition this season.
Anderlecht were playing with real confidence - Jovanovic forced Malafeev into a fingertip save before Behrang Safari's dangerous run and cross was cleared by Lombaerts.
Zenit began to get a foothold on the ball but were unable to make any real attacking headway, with Axel Witsel's booking for a clumsy challenge an embodiment of the frustration within the Russian ranks.
Luciano Spalletti brought on Danny at the break to spark some life into his attack, and the 29-year-old almost had an immediate impact when his dangerous free-kick fell to the feel of Axel Witsel, only for Proto to deny the Belgian with a smart save.
Dennis Praet, a lively presence throughout, provided Massimo Bruno with an opening which was snuffed out by Lombaerts, before some clever interplay between Safari and Lucas Biglia almost carved out a second for Anderlecht a moment later.
Chances were few and far between for much of the match, with Anderlecht all too often winning the battle in midfield to prevent the visitors from making any real headway in the final third while the centre-back duo of Kouyate and Bram Nuytinck were immense at the heart of the hosts' defence.
Anderlecht continued to look the more likely to score and substitute Oleksandr Iakovenko came close to doing just that with ten minutes to go, lashing the ball against the crossbar following Kanu's flick-on, with replays showing that only a crucial touch from Malafeev denied the winger a goal.
Kanu then lashed an effort from the edge of the area wide of the mark before a last-ditch tackle from Anyukov denied him a clear sight of goal inside the box following good work from Mbokani.
Zenit threw men forward late on but were unable to carve out a meaningful chance, and the hosts clung on for a deserved three points, heaping more pressure on Spalletti's already-burdened shoulders.
Olympiakos 3-1 Montpellier
Greek side close gap on second-placed Arsenal in Group B
It seemed as if the home side would have to settle for a draw, but two goals in the final 10 minutes of the game helped them to a vital home victory
Olympiakos have done the double over Montpellier in Group B after recording a 3-1 win over the French side in Tuesday's Champions League encounter in Piraeus.
Portuguese midfielder Paulo Machado gifted the hosts the lead early on when he found the net from inside the area, but Younes Belhanda restored parity halfway through the second half. Leandro Greco and Kostas Mitroglou then added their names to the score-sheet in the closing stages of the game to help the hosts to victory.
The Greek giants started the match the better side and needed only four minutes to open the scoring. Greco danced past his marker down the left before sending in a low cross for Mitroglou, who saw his shot hit the upright. Machado was alert, though, and tapped home from close range to make it 1-0.
Mitroglou then came close to doubling his side's lead after some sloppy defending from Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa. However, Montpellier goalkeeper Geoffrey Jourdren pulled off a superb save to bail out Yanga-Mbiwa and deny the prolific attacker.
Montpellier, meanwhile, were unable to really threaten Olympiakos, and their only serious chance of the first half came after a long ball from Hilton around the half-hour mark. Souleymane Camara escaped the attention of his marker, but his volley from a difficult position was off target.
The home side again threatened in the opening stages of the first half, with Djamel Abdoun, Greco and Mitroglou all looking dangerous. Nevertheless, Jourdren rushed off his line to prevent the latter from getting a shot in, while Yanga-Mbiwa made a fine interception to avoid a second Olympiakos goal.
La Paillade then took over the initiative and created a number of dangerous chances within the space of a few minutes. Roy Carroll first denied Jonathan Tinhan with a good reflex, before the experienced shot-stopper did well to collect Joris Marveaux's header from close range.
There was little Carroll could do to stop Belhanda's attempt in the 67th minute, though, as the referee had no option but to award the away side a spot kick after Dimitris Siovas pulled down Camara inside the area. The playmaker had no trouble slotting home from the spot.
The Piraeus side were not too impressed and almost restored their lead right from the kick-off. Nevertheless, some fine defending from Henri Bedimo prevented Machado from netting his second of the game.
Olympiakos kept on pushing and were eventually rewarded in the 80th minute. The Montpellier defence allowed Greco too much space after a corner kick, and the winger fired home from inside the area to make it 2-1.
Things would only get worse for the French champions from here on, and Mitroglou made it three only minutes later. A fine cross from Jose Holebas reached the prolific attacker, who volleyed past the helpless Jourdren after escaping Yanga-Mbiwa's attention.
Olympiakos sit third in their section with six points from four games. They resume Champions League action on November 22 away against Schalke.
Montpellier remain last in their group with only one point. Their next match in Europe is the trip to Arsenal in two weeks' time.
Dynamo Kiev 0-0 Porto
Stalemate enough to see Portuguese side into last 16
Porto reached the knockout stages of the Champions League despite losing their 100 per cent record in the competition after a disappointing Group A encounter
Porto sealed their progress to the last 16 of the Champions League despite failing to break down a determined Dynamo Kiev side during a dour 0-0 draw in the Ukrainian capital on Tuesday night.
The Portuguese side remain top of Group A despite dropping points for the first time in the group stage, whilst the home side must now win both of their remaining matches to have any chance of reaching the knockout stages.
Jackson Martinez went closest for the away team as his header was well saved by teenage goalkeeper Maksym Koval, while at the other end, Andriy Yarmolenko wasted Kiev's best opportunities.
Porto can secure top spot in the group if they beat Dinamo Zagreb in matchday five, though that will depend on Paris Saint-Germain's result against Kiev on the same night.
Both teams started slowly at the Olympic Stadium, and the closest either side came to scoring in the opening 20 minutes came when Marco Ruben's weak effort hit Eliaquim Mangala on the arm, though the defender didn't know much about the obstruction.
The visitors looked dangerous on the counterattack, but they were left frustrated on numerous occasions by some dogged defending from Oleh Blokhin's side.
Porto top scorer Martinez was the main threat for the visitors, and he almost opened the scoring when he met Rodriguez's searching cross from the left, but his low header was acrobatically turned round the post by Koval.
That chance was the catalyst for the match to open up somewhat, and Taye Taiwo tried his luck from distance for the home side, though his speculative volley drifted wide of the post. Danilo then tested Koval with a weak effort from distance but there was precious little talking points during an opening period where defences dominated.
Porto began the second half much better than they had the first, and Silvestre Varela thought he had broken the deadlock as he latched onto Rodriguez's perfectly-weighted through-ball, but his shot across goal rolled narrowly wide.
The Ukrainian side responded to this scare and Yarmolenko tested Helton with a powerful effort from the corner of the box, though the shot was straight at the goalkeeper.
With both sides looking for the opening goal, there were chances for both sides, and Rodriguez was the next to try his luck as he shot straight at Koval, after Lucho Gonzalez had worked hard to keep the ball in on the byline.
Vitor Pereira's side were almost handed a large slice of luck on the hour mark as Joao Moutinho's free kick took a big deflection off the wall and Koval was left as a spectator as the ball fell narrowly wide.
Kiev had their best chance of the night with 25 minutes remaining when Yarmolenko was put through by substitute Lukman Haruna but he shot weakly at Helton from just inside the area.
The home side introduced Ideye Brown with a quarter of the match remaining, and he posed a threat in the box as he headed over the top from Yarmolenko's cross.
Ukraine striker Yarmolenko was becoming a key figure in the match, and he was denied by Helton for the third time in the second period his flicked header from a Miguel Veloso free kick was straight at the goalkeeper.
Lucho almost secured all three points for Pereira's team in the closing stages but he dragged his shot wide when well placed in the Kiev area.
Kiev pressed for a winner that would have seen keep in touch with the top two sides in the group but they failed to test Helton in stoppage time.