In Depth

Champions League reactions: Chelsea hold on to qualify as Ajax and Inter Milan crash out

Holders Liverpool are also through to the round of 16

Chelsea conquered their nerves to book a place in the last 16 of the Uefa Champions League with a 2-1 victory over Lille at Stamford Bridge. 

First-half goals from Tammy Abraham and Cesar Azpilicueta set the Blues on their way against a second-string Lille side, but a late goal from the French visitors threatened to derail their progress.

Loic Remy’s effort on 78 minutes meant the Chelsea faithful endured a nervous few final minutes, aware that defeat would see them slip out of contention at the expense of Ajax.

But Frank Lampard’s team held on to finish second in group H behind Valencia and one point ahead of their Dutch rivals, who lost 1-0 at home to the Spanish outfit. 

Last season’s semi-finalists, Ajax have paid the price for selling off so many of their squad in the summer, and their failure to progress is a bitter disappointment after their thrilling brand of football last year.

Twitchy

Chelsea have now made it to the knockout stages in 15 of their 16 Champions League campaigns, with 2012-13 their only failure, but Lampard admitted it had been squeaky bum time in the final ten minutes. 

“It did get twitchy,” he said. “We need to take our chances better. At 2-0 I thought it was not quite done and when Lille scored it made it a more nervy finish to the game than it needed to be.”

–––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––For analysis of the biggest sport stories - and a concise, balanced take on the week’s news - try The Week magazine. Start your trial today –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––

Reds also through

Defending champions Liverpool picked up the points they needed to qualify from group E, but they were made to work hard for it by Red Bull Salzburg. 

The Austrian outfit threw everything they had at the visitors in the first 45 minutes, looking to add to their recent tally of 87 goals in 24 matches. But the Reds stayed strong, kept a clean sheet, and then hit their hosts with two goals in two minutes after the break. 

Naby Keita headed in Sadio Mane’s cross on 57 minutes and then Mohamed Salah fired home from a tight angle to make sure of their passage into the last 16. 

“I really love it that my team is so smart that they listen and they put in a shift in like that,” said Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp. “Salzburg was unbelievably strong, especially in the first half, but we as well were ready for that fight.”

Napoli thrashed Genk 4-0 to finish second in group E, but an hour after the win the Italian club parted company with head coach Carlo Ancelotti, who is already being linked to both Arsenal and Everton.

Today’s back pages: Salah stunner seals a ‘full English’ in last 16

The end for Inter

Ansu Fati became the youngest goalscorer in Champions League history as he scored a late winner for Barcelona to end Inter Milan’s hopes of reaching the last 16. The 17-year-old converted Luis Suarez’s pass four minutes from time to seal a 2-1 win at the San Siro. 

The Spanish giants had already qualified for the knockout phase, but their win on the road, coupled with Borussia Dortmund’s 2-1 victory at home against Slavia Prague, means Inter finish third with the second qualifying spot going to the Germans. 

“I played the give and go with Luis and when I scored the stadium just went silent, I’m super-happy,” said Fati. “It’s a dream… you look around and think: ‘what have I done?’”

Two spots left in last 16

There are still two qualification places up for grabs on Wednesday evening. Manchester City are through as group C winners and it will be between Shakhtar Donetsk, Dinamo Zagreb and Atalanta for the runners-up spot. 

Man City are away at Dinamo Zagreb (5.55pm, live on BT Sport 3) while Shakhtar host Atalanta (5.55pm, live on BT Sport 1). 

Juventus have won group D but second place is yet to be confirmed with Atlético Madrid and Bayer 04 Leverkusen in contention. On Wednesday Atlético host Lokomotiv Moscow (8pm, live on BT Sport Extra 3) and Leverkusen are at home against Juve (8pm, live on BT Sport Extra 2). 

–––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––For analysis of the biggest sport stories - and a concise, balanced take on the week’s news - try The Week magazine. Start your trial today –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––

Fixtures, permutations and draw details  

When is the draw for the last 16? 

The draw for the Champions League round of 16 takes place at 11am (GMT) on Monday 16 December in Nyon, Switzerland. The draw features the eight group winners (seeded) and eight runners-up (unseeded). Two final spots will be decided on Wednesday evening.

Teams through to the last 16Seeded (group winners)
  • Barcelona (group F)  
  • Bayern Munich (group B)  
  • Juventus (group D)  
  • RB Leipzig (group G)  
  • Liverpool (group E)  
  • Manchester City (group C)  
  • Paris Saint-Germain (group A)  
  • Valencia (group H) 
Unseeded (group runners-up)
  • Borussia Dortmund (group F)  
  • Chelsea (group H)  
  • Lyon (group G)  
  • Napoli (group E)  
  • Real Madrid (group A)  
  • Tottenham Hotspur (group B)

Wednesday 11 December: fixtures and permutations 

Group A 
  • Club Bruges vs. Real Madrid (8pm, live on BT Sport ESPN)  
  • Paris Saint-Germain vs. Galatasaray (8pm, live on BT Sport Extra 4) 
Permutations (according to Uefa)
  • PSG are through as group winners 
  • Real Madrid are through 
  • Club Brugge cannot finish in the top two. They will finish third if they beat Madrid, or if Galatasaray fail to beat PSG  
  • Galatasaray cannot finish in the top two. They will be confirmed in fourth place if they lose to PSG
Group B 
  • Bayern Munich vs. Tottenham Hotspur (8pm, live on BT Sport Extra 2)  
  • Olympiakos vs. Red Star Belgrade (8pm, live on BT Sport Extra 5) 
Permutations
  • Bayern are through as group winners 
  • Tottenham are through 
  • Red Star are unable to finish in the top two. They will finish in third if they avoid defeat at Olympiacos 
  • Olympiacos are unable to finish in the top two. They will finish in third if they beat Red Star
Group C 
  • Dinamo Zagreb vs. Manchester City (5.55pm, live on BT Sport 3)  
  • Shakhtar Donetsk vs. Atalanta (5.55pm, live on BT Sport 1) 
Permutations
  • Man City are through as group winners 
  • Shakhtar will go through if they beat Atalanta, or if they draw and Dinamo fail to win 
  • Dinamo will go through if they beat City and Shakhtar do not beat Atalanta 
  • Atalanta will go through if they beat Shakhtar and Dinamo do not beat City
Group D 
  • Atlético Madrid vs. Lokomotiv Moscow (8pm, live on BT Sport Extra 3)  
  • Bayer 04 Leverkusen vs. Juventus (8pm, live on BT Sport Extra 2)
Permutations
  • Juventus are through as group winners 
  • Atlético will go through if they beat Lokomotiv or if Leverkusen fail to beat Juventus 
  • Leverkusen will go through if they beat Juventus and Atlético do not beat Lokomotiv 
  • Lokomotiv will finish fourth

–––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––For analysis of the biggest sport stories - and a concise, balanced take on the week’s news - try The Week magazine. Start your trial today –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––

Recommended

All at sixes and sevens: a mad day in Premier League history
Liverpool goalkeeper Adrian bumps fists with Aston Villa hat-trick hero Ollie Watkins
In Depth

All at sixes and sevens: a mad day in Premier League history

Tokyo Olympics: a state of emergency for Japan and the IOC
The Olympic rings outside of the National Stadium in Tokyo, Japan
The latest on . . .

Tokyo Olympics: a state of emergency for Japan and the IOC

Premier League title race: excitement builds at the top of the table
Manchester United and Manchester City are contenders for the Premier League title
Why we’re talking about . . .

Premier League title race: excitement builds at the top of the table

Messi vs. Ronaldo: all-time career goals and UCL records
Cristiano Ronaldo in action for Juventus against Lionel Messi of Barcelona
In Depth

Messi vs. Ronaldo: all-time career goals and UCL records

Popular articles

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 22 Jan 2021
10 Downing Street
Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 22 Jan 2021

Tried and tasted: restaurant meal kits to eat at home
Santo Remedio
On the menu

Tried and tasted: restaurant meal kits to eat at home

Churchill bust ‘not on display’ in Biden’s Oval Office
Joe Biden in the Oval Office
In Brief

Churchill bust ‘not on display’ in Biden’s Oval Office