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Man. City, APOEL and Super Mario share top billing
by Paul Kennedy, November 3rd, 2011 1:04AM

TAGS:  barcelona, england, germany, real madrid, spain, uefa champions league


[UEFA CHAMPIONS LEAGUE Day 4: What we learned ...] Real Madrid, Barcelona and AC Milan became the first three teams to clinch berths in the knockout stage of the UEFA Champions League. Cypriot champion APOEL continued its improbable run atop Group G. Manchester City remained the hottest team in Europe, while Bayern Munich's Mario Gomez is its hottest player. Here's a look at what we learned on Day 4 ...

BIG BOYS ADVANCE. Real Madrid remained the only team in the group stage that has won all of its matches and has yet to concede a goal, joining defending champion Barcelona and AC Milan in advancing with two games to spare. Cristiano Ronaldo had both goals in the Merengues' 2-0 win at Lyon on Wednesday to give him 100 goals in 105 games for Real Madrid. Barcelona and AC Milan clinched on Tuesday.

APOEL IS UNBELIEVABLE. Cypriot club APOEL beat Porto of Portugal, 2-1, to remain in first place in Group G and only needs to tie Zenit St. Petersburg in Russia to clinch an unlikely berth in the round of 16. APOEL coach Ivan Jovanovic called Tuesday's victory over Porto the most important in the history of a club. "What I want is that my players keep playing like tonight, with the same passion and determination in the two remaining group matches," he said. "If they do, I am sure we can expect much greater things and achievements." Gustavo Manduca had the winner in the 90th minute, a minute after fellow Brazilian Hulk had tied the score for Porto. "It's unbelievable what we are living now," said Manduca. "I can't express my feelings."

MAN. CITY MULTITASKS. Many scoffed at the notion that Manchester City, in its first season in the Champions League, could compete on multiple fronts. But it is first in the English Premier League, five points ahead of Manchester United, in the quarterfinals of the Carling Cup and winner of its last two games in the Champions League. Its 3-0 win at Villarreal gave the Citizens seven straight wins since their 2-0 loss at Bayern Munich and moved them into second place in Group A. They've averaged almost four goals a game during the streak.

SUPER MARIO OVERLOOKED. Forget Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo. The hottest striker in Europe is Mario Gomez. He scored a first-half hat trick as Bayern Munich defeated Napoli 3-2 on Wednesday. The three goals give him 19 goals in 17 games for Bayern this season and 13 goals in the last 10 Champions League games. Gomez, still only 26, scored 37 goals in all competitions last season for Bayern. His absence from the shortlist for the FIFA Ballon d'Or is perhaps the biggest omission.

Group A
Villarreal 0 Man. City 3.
Scorers: Yaya Toure 30, 71, Mario Balotelli 45 pen.
Bayern Munich 3 Napoli 2.    
Scorers: Mario Gomez 17, 23, 42; Federico Fernandez 45, 80.
Group B
Inter Milan 2 Lille 1.   
Scorers: Walter Samuel 18, Diego Milito 65; Tulio De Melo 83.
Trabzonspor 0 CSKA Moscow 0.
Group C
Benfica 1 Basel 1.
Scorers: Benfica: Rodrigo 4; Benjamin Huggel 64   
Man. United 2 Otelul Galati 0.
Scorers: Antonio Valencia 8, own goal 87.
Group D
Lyon 0 Real Madrid 2.
Scorer: Cristiano Ronaldo 24, 69 pen.
Ajax 4 Dinamo Zagreb 0.
Scorers: Gregory van der Wiel 20, Miralem Sulejmani 25, Siem
de Jong 65, Nicolas Lodeiro 90.
Group E    
Genk 1 Chelsea 1     
Scorers: Jelle Vossen 61; Ramires 26.
Valencia 3 Bayer Leverkusen 1.
Scorers: Jonas 1, Roberto Soldado 65, Adil Rami 75; Stefan Kiessling 31.
Group F
Arsenal 0 Marseille 0.
Borussia Dortmund 1 Olympiakos 0.
Scorer: Kevin Grosskreutz 7.
Group G
Zenit St. Petersburg 1 Shakhtar Donetsk 0.
Scorer: Nicolas Lombaerts 45.
APOEL Nicosia 2 Porto 1.
Scorers: Ailton 42 pen., Gustavo Manduca 90; Hulk 89.
Group H
BATE Borisov 1 AC Milan 1.   
Scorers: Renan Bressan 55 pen.; Zlatan Ibrahimovic 22.
Viktoria Plzen 0 Barcelona 4.
Scorers: Lionel Messi 24 pen., 45, 90, Cesc Fabregas 72.

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