British big guns progress

Paris, November 24:

Champions League holders Liverpool and the team they beat controversially in the semi-finals Chelsea both progressed to the Champions League knockout stages on Wednesday. Liverpool drew 0-0 at home to Real Betis while Chelsea beat Anderlecht 2-0 in Brussels to ensure they joined them and should Chelsea beat the titleholders in a fortnight they will top Group G.

Elsewhere both Milan sides enjoyed comfortable victories with AC Milan’s Andriy Shevchenko scoring all four of his side’s goals against Fenerbahce in Istanbul — the first player to score four in an away Champions League match. While AC Milan are still not guaranteed a place in the last 16 — though they head a very tight Group E after Schalke 04 beat PSV Eindhoven 3-0 with Georgian international midfielder Levan Kobiaschvili scoring the third hat-trick of the night — city rivals Inter are.

Inter walloped Artmedia Bratislava 4-0 with Brazilian striker Adriano scoring a hat-trick — breaking his Champions League drought stretching back to August 10 — in an empty stadium as they comple-ted their behind-closed-doors punishment imposed by UEFA. Inter’s victory helped Rangers no end as the struggling Scottish giants drew 1-1 with 2004 champions Porto in Oporto thanks to a debut goal in the competition from teenager Ross McCormack which lifted some of the pressure off embattled manager Alex McLeish. While Shevchenko, Adriano and Kobiaschvili took the goalscoring honours the goal of the night came from Norwegian striker John Carew whose cheeky backheel through the legs of Roberto Carlos and past Iker Casillas gave French champions a 1-1 draw in Madrid against Real Madrid and guaranteed them of winning Group F.

With 10 teams already qualified the managers of the contenders for the other six places will be hoping that such an attitude is missing when they line-up for the last round of group matches in a fortnight’s time.