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Champions League

A Week Of Mixed Fortunes For English Clubs In Europe

Jose Mourinho Manchester United
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 24: Jose Mourinho manager of Manchester United looks thoughtful prior to the UEFA Europa League Group A match between Manchester United FC and Feyenoord at Old Trafford on November 24, 2016 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images)

The week in Europe was a mixed bag for the competing English teams as two of the six won their games, two got a point a piece to secure their qualifications to the last 16 whilst Tottenham Hotspur lost in the Europa League alongside Southampton.

English champions Leicester City will qualify to the knockout phases as group winners after goals from Shinji Okazaki and Riyad Mahrez fired them to a 2-1 win against Club Brugge.

The Foxes needed a point to move into the last 16, yet secured three to ensure they will finish top of Group G.

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A smart finish into the top corner by Okazaki, after a fine cross by Christian Fuchs, set Claudio Ranieri’s side on their way.

Mahrez doubled the lead from the penalty spot – his fourth goal in five Champions League games – after Marc Albrighton was fouled by Dion Cools, before Jose Izquierdo hit a wonderful consolation after a 40-yard run.

Leicester were unrecognisable from the side who have struggled in the Premier League this season.

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Manchester City earned a valuable point against Borussia Mönchengladbach as a David Silva equalizer late in the first half saw them qualify in second place of Group C behind FC Barcelona.

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City trailed when Raffael powered a rising 15-yard drive past Claudio Bravo from a central position but improved after half-time, helped by the dismissal of home skipper Lars Stindl for two yellow cards.

However, the visitors were also reduced to 10 men when Fernandinho was booked for a second time for a needless tug on Raffael’s shirt inside the Monchengladbach half. Despite more space for both sides to exploit, the game failed to open up in the final half-hour.

Arsenal also secured their knockout round status after coming back from two goals down at home to Paris Saint-Germain with a goal from Olivier Giroud accompanying an unfortunate own-goal by Marco Verratti.

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The Gunners were seeking the win that would put them in pole position in Group A after years of finishing second and six consecutive eliminations in the last 16 in the knockout phase.

Arsenal’s inability to top their Champions League group has cost them dearly as they have failed to get past the last 16 in the past six years – and they now face the same fate again.

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The odds now seem stacked in favour of Unai Emery’s side, but the side that finishes top could yet end up facing the likes of Real Madrid or Bayern Munich.

Tottenham’s European woes continued and a 2-1 defeat in Monaco saw them eliminated from the competition.

Djibril Sidibe‘s header early in the second half sparked a stunning sequence of three goals in just five minutes that saw Spurs’ Champions League hopes swiftly fade, grow and fade again.

Harry Kane‘s penalty, awarded when Dele Alli was pulled back, put Spurs on level terms but, 39 seconds later, Monaco had the ball in the net again through Thomas Lemar.

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Victory took Monaco through to the last 16 as deserved winners of Group E ahead of Bayer Leverkusen, who earlier drew 1-1 at CSKA Moscow.

Spurs will now join the Europa League after Christmas.

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Wayne Rooney became Manchester United‘s record European goalscorer as they beat Feyenoord to keep their Europa League fate in their hands. The England captain then beautifully assisted Juan Mata to slide home the second.

The win was secured when former Liverpool keeper Brad Jones deflected Zlatan Ibrahimovic‘s cross into his own net, and Jesse Lingard curled in a fourth in injury time to make it Jose Mourinho’s biggest win as United boss.

Southampton’s 1-0 loss in Sparta Prague after Costa Nhamoinesu‘s early close range volley sealed a deserved win for the hosts. The Saints’ European destiny will now come down to their final group game at home to Israeli club Hapoel Be’er Sheva.

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