Champions League round-up: Nasri & Neymar stunners seal the deal for City and Barca
A Neymar stunner set Barcelona on the way to topping their group in the round of Champions League matches on Thursday morning (Dec 11, Singapore time).
Neymar’s superb goal – a curling right-footed effort from outside the area before half-time – put Barcelona in the lead against Paris Saint-Germain in a game the Catalans had to win to pip their opponents to top spot in Group F.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic gave PSG the lead, but Lionel Messi equalised.
After Neymar paved the way to victory, Luis Suarez added a third – his first at the Camp Nou since his move from Liverpool – in the second half.
Barca’s victory means they can surely now expect an easier tie when the draw is made on Monday, while the result ended PSG’s record of being the only unbeaten side left in the major European leagues this season.
“It would be a lack of respect if I said I want this team or that one in the draw (on Monday), we have fulfilled our part of the contract by finishing first.
"And the team that draws us will undoubtedly not be happy.” - Barcelona coach Luis Enrique
Despite Ibrahimovic’s early goal – his first against the club he spent a season with in 2009/10 – Barcelona were worthy of their victory and Messi managed to mark the occasion with another landmark goal to bring the sides level.
The score meant he equalled the record mark for most goals in all European competitions.
The Argentine now has 76 European goals, putting him level with former Real Madrid star Raul, with Cristiano Ronaldo one behind.
City overcome absences
A memorable 50th appearance in the Champions League for Samir Nasri helped Manchester City into the last 16.
Nasri’s first goal of the season – also his 50th for an English club – and an assist for Pablo Zabaleta secured a 2-0 win for City away against Roma.
The result saw them qualify for the knockout stage at the expense of the Italian side in Wednesday’s final round of group games.
They made light of the fact that three key players were missing – leading scorer Sergio Aguero and captain Vincent Kompany were injured while Yaya Toure was suspended – as the mercurial Nasri showed his pedigree.
He created space for himself and cracked in a stunning right-footed effort from just outside the box that beat Morgan de Sanctis, hit the post, and went into the net on the hour mark.
Nasri then turned creator with just under five minutes remaining: His pass set up Pablo Zabaleta for a well-taken second City goal and the Argentinian’s first-ever in the competition.
City manager Manuel Pellegrini, who has guided them to six successive wins, was delighted with the manner in which his players handled the pressure.
“I had a lot of trust in what we could do. I said I didn’t want to talk about players not in the team.
"This team deserve a little more credit than the press always give us.”- Manuel Pellegrini
His Roma counterpart Rudi Garcia was disappointed his team had fallen just short of reaching the knockout stage for the first time since the 2010/11 season.
Chelsea 3-1 Sporting Lisbon
Schalke 04 1-0 Maribor
Bayern Munich 3-0 CSKA Moscow
Source: AFP, Reddit