Champions League Week 5 action on Tuesday saw some of the big clubs progress into the last 16, and knock-out stages of the competition, which is begin in February next year.
Over in Spain on Tuesday evening it has to be said that Manchester United and Villarreal, even though they were two of the teams to progress, produced a pretty boring and uneventful goalless draw. The only good moments were a first half shot by the Portuguese striker Ronaldo which brought out a great save from the Villareal goalkeeper Diego Lopez who deflected the ball onto the bar. Later the England forward Wayne Rooney produced a cross that was deflected towards the danger area but it came to nothing as Capdevila managed to clear the ball to safety.
Capdevilla was also involved in the most unsavory incident of the evening when with just 6 minutes of the game remaining he produced a rather ugly tackle on Ronaldo and was duly given his marching orders by the referee.
Meanwhile in the same Group E, it was the end of the road for Gordon Strachan and his Celtic side who must have thought they could go to Aalborg and get a good result to give them any chance of staying alive in the competition. However, there will be no more European nights at Celtic Park this season. They will not even have the consolation of playing in the UEFA Cup. Celtic will finish last in Group E thanks to a 2 – 1 defeat on Tuesday against the unfancied AaB Aalborg. I wouldn’t have put much money on Celtic finishing last in this group when the draw was first made.
It did start off looking good for Celtic, they led 1 – 0 but agony struck with just a few minutes left as the Celtic player Gary Caldwell could only put the ball into his own net after a goal mouth scramble. Tears of sadness in the east end of Glasgow, whilst no doubt tears of joy in the west end!
Over to Group F where Lyon, the perennial leaders of the French league, beat the Italians Fiorentina and with that they too progress to the last 16. Not surprisingly, Lyon will be joined by Bayern Munich in the final stages after they overcame Steau Bucharest at the Allianz Arena. All the big guns are lining line for the February showdown.
The situation is no different in Group G as both Arsenal, losing finalists in 2006 to Barcelona in Paris, and FC Porto, winners in 2004 with Jose Mourinho as manager before he pitched up in the west end of London, both made in through to the last 16 with wins over Dynamo Kiev and Fenerbache respectively.
However Arsenal did leave it a little late against Kiev with the winner coming only 3 minutes from the end of the game, scored by Bendtner. That must have come as a huge relief to Arsene Wenger and all connected with Arsenal. Since their excellent win in the Premier League against Man Utd as few weeks ago, which at the time silenced a few critics, it has been nothing but bad news and bad press for Arsenal with more defeats and the William Gallas affair, which resulted in being striped of the captaincy.
Finally on Tuesday two more of the “Big Guns” made it through with a week to spare. Both Real Madrid and Juventus confirmed their tickets to the knock-out stages after Real beat BATE Borisov and Juventus drew 0 – 0 away to the current UEFA Cup holders Zenit St Petersburg. The result knocked Zenit out and it now look likely that they will be able to defend the crown they won last season in Manchester against Glasgow Rangers. Although that probably won’t be too much of a consolation to them.