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Inter loses at home, but advances to CL knockout phase
by Ian Plenderleith, November 28th, 2008 7AM
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[UEFA CHAMPIONS LEAGUE] Inter Milan lost at home to Panathinaikos but still managed to advance to the Champions League round of 16 thanks to Anorthosis Famagusta's 2-2 draw with Werder Bremen. Liverpool and Atlético Madrid also progressed, joining Barcelona and Sporting Lisbon in next spring's knockout phase. Chelsea's draw at Bordeaux and Roma's win at Cluj means it's all still to play for in Group A.

Chelsea continued to look unconvincing in European play as it was held 1-1 at Bordeaux, Nicolas Anelka scoring for the London club before Alou Diarra equalized for the French team. Chelsea had Frank Lampard dismissed four minutes from time for his second yellow card, meaning that the England midfielder will miss the crucial last home game to Cluj in two weeks. A win will see Chelsea through, but a tie will only suffice if Bordeaux fails to beat Roma.

"They cross one ball and they score one goal," said Chelsea manager Luiz Felipe Scolari. "I am disappointed about this because in this area, in corners and free kicks, we are very strong but today, one mistake and a goal and we lost three points and we now we need to win the last game to qualify."

Cluj is out of the reckoning after it lost 3-1 at home to Roma, the team it had started group play by beating in September. The Romanian champion was made to rue missing several good chances while at the other end Matteo Brighi scored an opportunistic brace and Francesco Totti converted a free kick. A point at home to Bordeaux in a fortnight will see Roma through.

In Group B, Inter Milan qualified for the next round despite a shock 1-0 home loss to Panathinaikos, whose Spanish defender Josu Sarriegi pounced on a rebound to score the game's only goal from close range. That sets up a big final game for the Greek club at home to Anorthosis Famagusta in two weeks -- a win or draw and Panathinaikos advances, but Famagusta can jump into second place if it takes all three points.

Inter coach Jose Mourinho called the Panathinaikos win "absolutely deserved. People may say they were lucky but I don't agree. After that performance we don't deserve to go through. We must be angry with ourselves."

Famagusta had looked like landing all three points at home to Bremen after taking a 2-0 second-half lead through Nikos Nikolaou and Brazilian Savio. But a Diego penalty and a late left-footed volley from Hugo Almeida leveled the score, and Bremen would have taken the game if the Portuguese forward hadn't squandered a late one-on-one chance with Famagusta goalkeeper Zoltan Nagy. Bremen's best hope now is a UEFA Cup place.

"Unfortunately we woke up too late," said Werder coach Thomas Schaaf. "At the end, maybe we were liberated, but it wasn't enough. Before that, we should have been better focused. We've failed to reach the goal we set ourselves."

All remaining issues were wrapped up in Group C. Barcelona and Sporting Lisbon, both already qualified, fought it out in the Portuguese capital for the group's first place. Barcelona was the easy 5-2 winner, despite a brief Sporting comeback in the second half. Shakhtar Donetsk wiped out FC Basel's chance of a UEFA Cup place with a 5-0 win, Brazilian Jadson scoring a hat trick.

In Group D, Liverpool and Atlético Madrid both needed home ties to secure progress to the last 16. Both duly won by a single goal to make sure, Steven Gerrard's header giving Liverpool the points against Marseille, while goals from Simao and Maxi Rodriguez were enough to give Atletico a 2-1 win over PSV Eindhoven inside an empty stadium. Top placing and the UEFA Cup spot will be decided by the group's final round of games Dec. 9.

"The most important thing for us is that we know the job is now done," said Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez. "We were a bit scared but we knew we had the quality to win the game."

SCOREBOARD
Group A
CFR Cluj 1 (Kona) Roma 2 (Brighi 2, Totti)
Bordeaux 1 (Diarra) Chelsea 1 (Anelka)
Standings: Roma (9 points), Chelsea (8), Bordeaux (7), Cluj (4).

Group B
Anorthosis Famagusta 2 (K Nicolaou, Savio) Werder Bremen 2 (Diego PK, Hugo Almeida)
Inter Milan 0 Panathinaikos 1 (Sarriegi)
Standings: Inter (8 points), Panathinaikos (7), Anorthosis (6), Bremen (4).

Group C
Sporting Lisbon 2 (Veloso, Silva Liedson) Barcelona 5 (Pique, Henry, Messi, Caneira OG, Bojan PK)
Shakhtar Donetsk 5 (Jadson 3, Silva Willian, Seleznyov) Basel 0
Standings: Barcelona (13 points), Sporting (9), Shakhtar (6), Basel (1),

Group D
Liverpool 1 (Gerrard) Marseille 0
Atlético Madrid 2 (Simao, Maxi) PSV Eindhoven 1 (Koevermans)
Standings: Atlético (11 points), Liverpool (11 points), PSV (3), Marseille (3).

 



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