Barcelona, Atletico Madrid victorious in Champions League
Madrid, Oct 20 (IANS) Spanish football champions FC Barcelona thumped Manchester City 4-0 while Atletico Madrid bested Rostov 1-0, bringing both Spanish clubs a step closer to clinching spots in the Champions League pre-quarterfinal.
French champions Paris Saint-Germain, German champions Bayern Munich and England’s Arsenal also won on Wednesday, who likewise seem assured of advancing to the next stage, reports Efe.
A healthy Lionel Messi spoiled Pep Guardiola’s return to the Camp Nou stadium, scoring three goals against Manchester City, who played most of the second half with 10 men after goalkeeper Claudio Bravo was ejected on a red card for a hand ball outside the area.
Guardiola, who won a shelf full of trophies with Barcelona, surprised everyone by leaving top scorer Sergio AgÃ¼ero out of the line-up for City’s biggest match of the current Champions League tourney.
Messi’s first goal came in the 17th minute after City defender Fernandinho slipped, clearing a path for the Argentine superstar, whose second and third tallies followed Bravo’s expulsion.
Neymar added the fourth goal in the final minute of regulation time.
With 9 points from three matches, Barcelona lead Group C by five points over City.
Two points behind City is Borussia Monchengladbach, who posted their first win on Wednesday, beating Celtic 2-0 in Glasgow to consign the Scottish squad to last place with 1 point.
Atletico struggled a little to beat Rostov in Russia on a goal at the hour mark by Yannick Carrasco, maintaining their perfect record in the current Champions League campaign.
Last year’s runner-up Atletico now sit three points ahead of Bayern Munich in Group D, who climbed to six points on Wednesday with a 4-1 whipping of PSV Eindhoven who, like Rostov, have a single point.
In Group A, Arsenal and PSG are tied on points at seven after victories over Ludogorets and Basel, respectively.
Arsenal routed the Bulgarian club 6-0 in London with goals from Alexis Sanchez, Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and a Mesut Ozil hat trick, the first in the German international’s senior career.
PSG defeated visiting Basel 3-0 on goals by Angel Di Maria, Lucas and Edinson Cavani, who converted a penalty in stoppage time.
The only surprise on Wednesday came in Group B, where Napoli lost 2-3 at home to Turkey’s Besiktas, an outcome that leaves the Italian side with six points, one ahead of the Turkish club and ywo ahead of Benfica, who won 2-0 away to Dynamo Kiev.