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Just like the first half of Matchday 4 on Tuesday, Wednesday’s slate of UEFA Champions League games provided another big dose of action, as teams tried to cement their place in the knockout rounds or claw their way back into the mix. Here are all of the big stories from Wednesday’s action.
As expected, the duo of Luis Suarez and Neymar was too much for BATE Borisov to even think of competing with Barcelona at the Nou Camp, leaving the door wide open for the winner of the Bayer Leverkusen vs. AS Roma match to move into pole position of advancing.
When those two teams met a fortnight ago they produced a wild 4-4 draw and though it was unlikely they’d be able to do it again, the rematch did not disappoint. This time it was AS Roma busting out of the gate with two quick goals, only for Leverkusen to equalize things with two second-half goals. It wasn’t to be for the Germans though as Roma would grab all the points via a late Miralem Pjanic penalty.
Roma’s win helped them move past their Matchday 2 slip up when they lost to BATE, as they’ve now leapfrogged both BATE and Leverkusen into second place. The Italians, who have really kicked things into gear recently, hold their fate of advancing in their own hands. However Leverkusen, who have been in great recent form themselves, sit just one point behind Roma and will be ready to pounce should Roma slip up in their last two games.
As expected, Bayern Munich were out for revenge following their Matchday 3 loss to Arsenal. The Germans scored quick and put the match to bed fairly quickly, never giving Arsenal a chance to get back into the game. The situation only got worse for Arsenal when over in Greece Felipe Pardo scored his second goal of the match, this one in the 90th minute, to give Olympiacos a 2-1 win over Dinamo Zagreb.
The win moves Olympiacos to nine points in the group, tied for first with Bayern Munich, meaning the Greeks will only need one point over their last two games to secure qualification to the knockout rounds, effectively eliminating Arsenal from the competition. The silver lining for Arsenal is they have likely just become the favorites to win the Europa League this season.
Chelsea did everything they could to drop points Wednesday night against Dynamo Kiev, but were bailed out by a late Willian free kick, which will go a long way toward helping them advance to the knockout rounds. For as much of a mess Chelsea have been this season, they are doing a great impression of last season’s Borussia Dortmund, the team that perfected the complete domestic collapse while still managing to advance out of the group stages in the Champions League.
The win gives Chelsea seven points in the group, two ahead of Kiev though it wouldn’t hurt to thank the gods of the UEFA draw for handing them such an easy group. The deciding factor in the group will be how each team does against FC Porto, who have all but secured qualification with 10 points in the group after defeating Maccabi Tel Aviv, as both teams should easily move past the Israeli’s who have yet to earn a point in the competition.
Despite several teams putting a lot of ground between first place and the rest of their group Wednesday, only one team managed to secure qualification into the knockout round. That team was Zenit St. Petersburg who defeated Lyon 2-0 in France.
However, the big story of the group was Belgian side Gent the upset 1-0 win over Valencia, which not only prevented Valencia from advancing, but moves the Belgians to within two points of the Spanish side. The Gent win also keeps Lyon’s (1 point) very slim hopes of making a miracle comeback alive, giving three of the four clubs everything to play for over the final two matchdays.