Champions League Matchday 6: Winners and Losers
If Tuesday night was littered with dead-rubbers, then Wednesday night made up for it, with qualification up for grabs in three of the four groups.
Celtic were hoping to continue Scotland's involvement in the 2012-13 UEFA Champions League, while Chelsea had their fingers crossed that Shakhtar Donetsk could beat Juventus in Ukraine, and Galatasaray were surely confident of bettering CFR Cluj's efforts at Old Trafford.
Everyone was never going to be happy, so who were the winners and losers of Matchday 6?
Oscar Cardozo was like a rabbit caught in the headlights. The Barcelona defence had been breached, and the Paraguayan was handed the perfect chance to send Benfica through with a 1-0 win. He didn't even get the chance to shoot; his touch let him down.
At Parkhead, Kris Commons had just smashed a penalty in off the underside of the bar. Celtic had kept their side of the bargain by beating Spartak Moscow 2-1, bettering the Portuguese side's result.
From a group where few had given them a chance, Neil Lennon's side prevailed. At fulltime, with the final held at Wembley, "London's Calling" rang out on the speakers.
At this moment, Celtic will feel anything is possible.
One point was all that the Italians needed; three they got.
Many thought a draw—mutually beneficial to both Juventus and Shakhtar Donetsk—would be a likely outcome in the Donbass Arena; to both teams' credit, the game was open and enjoyable.
There were almost 30 attempts on goal between the sides, but it was a second-half own goal that sent Juve through as group winners.
Burak Yilmaz scored his sixth goal of the competition as Turkish side Galatasaray came from behind to beat Braga 2-1 in Portugal.
It was a much needed comeback because at Old Trafford CFR Cluj recorded a 1-0 victory.
That meant anything other than a win for the Turkish side would have dropped them into the Europa League when European competitions restart in 2013. Instead, that is now the fate of the Romanians.
Literally, the London club were in fact the biggest winners. They took Danish side Nordsjaelland apart 6-1 at Stamford Bridge.
Even Fernando Torres scored. Twice.
In reality though, Chelsea were the biggest losers. After relying on Shakhtar Donetsk to beat Juventus for them, it won't take away the disappointment they will feel at being knocked into the Europa League.
It has been 200 days since they won the Champions League.
A lot has happened since then.
Losers: Manchester City
Already out of the Champions League, it is up for debate how bothered Manchester City were about winning in Germany and at least continuing their participation in one of the European competitions this season.
Regardless, Roberto Mancini, his players and the fans cannot be too happy with no wins from their six games, whether they were playing in the "group of death" or not.
Nor can they be happy that they now have the not-so-proud record of posting the lowest total points by an English side in the group phase.
Loser: Lionel Messi
Lionel Messi didn't really need to play.
Barcelona had won the group already, but Messi, being Messi, would no doubt have been in Tito Vilanova's ear begging to play. He is chasing a certain record, after all.
Introduced on the hour, the stage was set for his crowning moment. It didn't play out like a fairytale, though, not this time.
Messi was stretchered off in the last 10 minutes. Barca fans will hope—as early reports suggest—his injury is not too serious.
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