AC Milan, Man United and Barcelona advance

Five-time winner AC Milan, Manchester United and Barcelona charged into the last 16 of the Champions League with two games to spare on Wednesday.

updated: February 25, 2007 09:28 IST
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Five-time winner AC Milan, Manchester United and Barcelona charged into the last 16 of the Champions League with two games to spare on Wednesday while defeated Bayern Munich was saved from early elimination by a shock result elsewhere. Milan edged Munich 2-1 to clinch Group G and leave Ottmar Hitzfeld with just one point from four games. Thankfully for him and his team, which conversely is five points clear in the Bundesliga, it stays alive because second place Deportivo de La Coruna tumbled 3-1 at Lens despite taking the lead. Goals by Brazilian wingback Serginho and striker Filippo Inzaghi sandwiched an equalizer by Michael Tarnat at San Siro and Milan, which tops Series A with an unbeaten record of four wins and a tie, maintained its 100 percent record in Group G with 12 points from four games. "Four wins in a row in the Champions League against these great teams is really something," Inzaghi said. "Especially against this team. Bayern is one of the strongest clubs in Europe." Lucky escape Manchester United raced into a 2-0 lead at Olympiakos when the unmarked Laurent Blanc headed in a Ryan Giggs corner and Juan Sebastian Veron started and finished a move for the second. But the Greek champion hit back with two strikes in four minutes by Lambros Choutos and Predrag Djordjevic before Paul Scholes netted the winner with six minutes to go. "It's unforgivable to come back from 2-0 down and then lose the game," said Olympiakos' caretaker coach Yiannis Kollias while United manager Alex Ferguson admitted his second half substitutions almost cost his team the game. "Luke Chadwick and Quinton Fortune badly need first-team football but it almost backfired on us," the veteran manager said. "Fortunately, we managed to get some control back into our play because we had been in a comfortable position before that, so we are really thankful to Paul Scholes for getting us out of trouble." Other results Frank de Boer's header 14 minutes from the end gave Barcelona a 100 record and a place in the last 16 as Group H winner after a 1-0 victory over Lokomotiv Moscow. Italian champion Juventus has a tougher than expected job of qualifying after losing 1-0 at Newcastle which now has an outside chance of making it. A second half goal by unheralded defender Andy Griffin finally beat the standout Gianluigi Buffon for the only goal of the game at St James Park for the Magpies first goal of the competition. With Dynamo Kiev beating second place Feyenoord 2-0 with goals by Aleksandr Khatskevitch and Valentin Belkevich, Juventus and Kiev now have seven points, Feyenoord five and Bobby Robson's Newcastle three. "We showed big resolve and big tenacity tonight," Robson said. "We fought for every ball on the ground and in the air and worked until the last second. It would have been horrible if we'd not got anything. We're a young side, we've some very good experienced players but to beat Juventus proves how good a game we've had here tonight. "We now have three points and if we can repeat this, we might have six points but we can't count our chickens before they've hatched," the veteran former England manager said. "But we've given ourselves a chance and put a smile on our face." On Tuesday, Arsenal, Valencia and nine-time champion Real Madrid all squandered chances to gain last 16 places with two games to spare. Valencia, runner up in 2000 and 2001, also lost its 100 percent record with a 2-2 tie at Swiss champion Basel and still isn't there yet. With Liverpool drawing closer by winning 3-1 at Spartak Moscow with a Michael Owen hat-trick and Basel still in contention, the Spanish club still needs a point from its last two games. (AP)