Chelsea lose top spot after 3-3 draw at Zenit

Chelsea's Timo Werner (centre) during the Champions League match against Zenit St. Petersburg on Wednesday. — AP
Chelsea's Timo Werner (centre) during the Champions League match against Zenit St. Petersburg on Wednesday. — AP

St Petersburg - Juventus top group after 1-0 win against Sweden's Malmo



By Reuters/AP

Published: Thu 9 Dec 2021, 12:23 AM

Champions League holders Chelsea finished as Group H runners-up after conceding a stoppage-time equaliser in a pulsating 3-3 draw at Zenit St Petersburg on Wednesday.

The result left Chelsea second on 13 points from six games, two behind group winners Juventus who leapt into pole position thanks to a 1-0 home win over Sweden’s Malmo.

Both sides had already booked their last-16 berths while third-placed Zenit will go into the second-tier Europa League after the winter break.

Chelsea made a perfect start as Timo Werner fired them ahead in the second minute with a tap-in after a Ross Barkley corner was nodded into his path.

Mason Mount squandered a sitter to double the lead after Zenit twice came close to an equaliser and the England midfielder’s miss turned out to be costly as the home side turned the game round with two quickfire goals.

Brazilian forward Claudinho levelled in the 38th with a glancing header into the far corner after his compatriot Douglas Santos swung in a cross past a static visiting defence.

Rattled by the equaliser, Chelsea fell behind three minutes later when Iranian striker Sardar Azmoun beat the offside trap from Malcom’s fine through ball and slotted home after rounding goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga.

Romelu Lukaku hit back in the 62nd minute as he stroked the ball into an empty net after a flowing move and Chelsea seemed to have forced the final twist after Werner struck again in the 85th thanks to more crisp-one touch passing.

The move left Zenit’s defence bedazzled with Christian Pulisic delivering the final pass to Werner, who fired in a snap shot from 10 metres after side-stepping his marker.

The Premier League side were undone, however, by a spectacular equaliser at the death as they failed to clear a cross and Magomed Ozdoev unleashed an unstoppable volley into the top corner from the edge of the penalty area.

Three red cards, on-field brawls

Three red cards, on-field brawls, countless chances and a flurry of late goals. A wild, win-or-bust match in the Champions League between Porto and Atletico Madrid had it all on Tuesday.

In the end, it was Atletico celebrating a place in the last 16 of Europe’s top club competition with a 3-1 win, emerging from a three-way fight for qualification in the final round of group games.

On a night when Ajax striker Sebastien Haller became an unlikely history-maker, Real Madrid finished top of their group, and Kylian Mbappe and Lionel Messi ran amok for Paris Saint-Germain, much of the focus on the next-to-last night of group play was on the Group B finale as three teams vied to be runners-up to Liverpool.

Porto started the night in second place, a point ahead of Atletico and AC Milan, who hosted Liverpool.

Milan wound up losing 2-1, meaning the winner of the all-Iberian match at the Estadio do Dragao would advance. It turned ugly, unsurprisingly given the stakes, with Porto having two players red-carded after Atletico had Yannick Carrasco sent off for swinging his arm around an opponent’s neck.

Atletico were outplayed for much of the game but were opportunistic in front of goal, with Antoine Griezmann scoring the 56th-minute opener at a corner and both Angel Correa and Rodrigo De Paul adding breakaway goals after the 90th minute.

It sparked wild celebrations on the touchline by Atletico’s famously passionate coach, Diego Simeone, and striker Luis Suarez, who was forced off injured after 13 minutes. Porto earned the consolation of a third-place finish and a spot in the Europa League knockout playoffs. — Reuters/AP


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