The fifth round of Champions League matches in 2012 was not full of good news as far as English and Scottish teams were concerned.
One of the biggest pieces of news was surely the 3-0 defeat of defending champions Chelsea by Italian giants Juventas. The Londoners were soundly beaten 3-0 in Turin and now must rely on other results to clinch a place in the last-16 of the competition. Blues manager Roberto Di Matteo was sacked in the wake of the game, perhaps indicating how the hierarchy at Stamford Bridge feel about their fading chances of reaching the knock-out stages.
The biggest disappointment for English teams was probably the performance of Manchester City. The Sky Blues were held to a 1-1 draw at home by Spanish giants Real Madrid, despite the Spaniards being reduced to 10 men when Alvaro Arbeloa sent off in the 73rd minutes for a second bookable offence. This incident had resulted in a penalty, from which Sergio Aguero scored. But that effort only cancelled out Karim Benzema‘s 10th minute strike for the visitors. Now Roberto Mancini‘s City must look to the Europa League to extend their stay in European competition.
The third English representative to lose was Manchester United, who had already clinched a spot in the knock-out phase thanks to a 3-1 win over Braga in the fourth round of matches. As it turned out, it was a good job they had result in the bag, as they lost 1-0 in Turkey at Galatasary on Match Day Five. A 54th minute header from Burak Yilmaz proved enough to send the Red Devils home disappointed.
Arsenal sealed their place in the next phase of the competition with a 2-0 over French outfit Montpellier. England international midfielder Jack Wilshere, returning from a very long period out with injury, netted his first goal since his comeback. German international Lukas Podolski also netted, to ensure that the north London outfit would be in the knock-out phase of the competition yet again, despite recent criticism of manager Arsene Wenger among some sections of the club’s support.
Scottish champions Celtic could also have clinched a place in the last 16 with a 1-1 draw at Benfica of Portugal. After Giorgios Samaras had cancelled out Ola John‘s seventh minute strike it looked as though they might be on their way. Ezequiel Garay‘s 71st minute winner meant that the Hoops could not try tailgating on the heroism of their home win over Barcelona on Match Day Four.
The Glaswegians can still qualify though, if results go their way in the concluding round of games. That would be a massive achievement not just for the Bhoys, but for Scottish football, so often derided in the recent past, as a whole.
Guest post submitted by Brian Sullivan