BALOTELLI BRACE ENOUGH FOR QUALIFICATION
Two goals from Mario Balotelli and a third from Adam Johnson secured Manchester City’s qualification on Wednesday night against FC Salzburg.
The young striker opened the scoring midway through the first half after volleying in a Pablo Zabaleta cross. It was the least City deserved after dominating possession and creating countless chances.
James Milner and Jo came closest to opening the scoring before Balotelli latched onto Zabaleta’s cross. His second goal 20 minutes into the second half was as simple as they come, needing only a slight tap in after a poor effort on goal by Patrick Vieira. The temperamental Italian’s celebrations for both goals were noticeably low-key.
The best goal of the night came 10 minutes from time when Adam Johnson showed magnificent skill to beat three players before guiding the ball past Salzburg ‘keeper Gerhard Tremmel.
Victory for City guarantees that they will not need a result in Turin in two weeks time after Juventus were held to a draw by Lech Poznan, the other qualifiers from Group A.
LIVERPOOL DRAW TO SECURE FIRST PLACE
A young Liverpool side assured qualification for the knockout stage of the Europa League with a draw against Steaua Bucharest on Thursday. Once again, Roy Hodgson gave chances to the younger players in his squad, and they managed a fine result away in Romania.
A draw is enough for Liverpool to qualify top of their group, however they should have come away with all three points. Milan Jovanovic put Liverpool ahead when he headed into the bottom corner from Ryan Babel’s after 20 minutes, providing the only Liverpool shot on target in the entire game.
With 30 minutes remaining, it was one of Liverpool’s senior players who let the lead slip, literally. Pepe Reina should have easily claimed Eder Bomfim’s header, but the error gave Steaua the equaliser and it stayed that way until the final whistle.
HOLDERS LIVING DANGEROUSLY
Atletico Madrid lost 3-2 to Aris Thessaloniki to leave their qualification hopes in tatters on Wednesday night. Aris completed the double over Atletico when Nikos Lazaridis fired in with less than 10 minutes left to play, leaving the holders with a very slim chance of qualification.
Aris took the lead within two minutes, but Atletico quickly hit back and were 2-1 up after 15 minutes thanks to Diego Forlan and Sergio Aguero. A penalty early in the second half levelled the score and then Lazaridis’ stole the headlines with his late winner.
The result was vital in terms of qualification as the Europa League goes to head to head results rather than goal-difference. So, with Aris holding the edge, Atletico must better the Greek’s result on the final group stage matches. They face a tough match however, as they face Bayer Leverkusen, a side that have already secured qualification.
MATCHDAY 5 RESULTS
Juventus 0 – 0 Lech Poznan
Manchester City 3-0 Salzburg
Atletico Madrid 2-3 Aris Thessalonika
Rosenborg 0-1 Bayer Leverkusen
Sporting Lisbon 1-0 Lille
Gent 1-0 Levski Sofia
Villareal 3-0 Dinamo Zagreb
PAOK 1-1 Club Brugge
Sheriff 1-1 AZ Alkmaar
BATE Borisov 1-4 Dynamo Kiev
Palermo 2-2 Sparta Prague
CSKA Moscow 5-1 Lausanne
Zenit St Petersburg 3-1 Anderlecht
Hajduk Split 1-3 AEK Athens
Young Boys 4-2 Stuttgart
Odense 1-1 Getafe
Sampdoria 1-2 PSV Eindhoven
FC Metalist 2-1 Debrecen
Borussia Dortmund 3-0 Karpaty
PSG 4-2 Sevilla
FC Utrecht 3-3 Napoli
Steaua 1-1 Liverpool
CSKA Sofia 1-2 Besiktas
Rapid Vienna 1-3 Porto