Chelsea qualify despite Basel defeat as Ajax stun Barça

2013-11-27 08:37

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London – Chelsea have reached the Champions League knockout stage despite a 1-0 defeat by German club Basel in Group E after a late Mohamed Salah goal shocked the 2012 title winners with Jose Mourinho saying they deserved to lose.

Barcelona, without Lionel Messi but already into the last 16, went two goals down in Amsterdam but looked a different side in the second half after Ajax’s Joel Veltman was sent off.

Xavi pulled a goal back but Ajax held on to inflict Barça’s first defeat this season under new coach Gerardo Martino. The Dutch side now visit AC Milan next month with all to play for.

Milan thrashed Celtic 3-0 away and have eight points to Ajax’s seven in Group H after ending the Glasgow side’s hopes

Three sides in Group F – Arsenal, Napoli and Borussia Dortmund – all still harbour hopes of reaching the last 16.

Arsenal have 12 points after beating visitors Olympique Marseille 2-0 thanks to a double from England midfielder Jack Wilshere; while Dortmund, last season’s losing finalists, join Napoli on nine points after beating the Italians 3-1.

Arsenal travel to Napoli on December 11 while Dortmund play at Marseille, who have yet to earn a point and have now lost eight successive Champions League matches over two seasons.

In Group G, Zenit St Petersburg and Porto still have a chance of joining section winners Atletico Madrid in the last 16. Zenit drew 1-1 at home to the Spaniards to reach six points while Porto have five after a 1-1 draw with Austria Vienna.

Mourinho’s Chelsea side failed to manage a shot on goal in the first half against Basel who themselves could not find a way past Petr Cech to make their dominance count.

The visitors were little better in the second period and Salah made them pay in the 87th minute, the Egyptian collecting a long pass and lifting the ball over Cech for the winner.

“A bad performance, a deserved defeat,” said Mourinho. “I did not like anything from the first minute.”

Basel’s double triumph over the English side gives them eight points, one fewer than Chelsea. Basel travel to Schalke 04, who drew 0-0 with Steaua Bucharest and have seven points, in the final round next month and one of the two will qualify.

Meanwhile, Barcelona suffered an early shock in Amsterdam after a goal by Ajax midfielder Thulani Serero. The Spanish side’s defence allowed a cross from Ricardo van Rhijn to reach the South Africa international who netted from close range.

The surprises continued when Danny Hoesen added a second for the hosts just before half-time but Xavi pulled one back for the 2009 and 2011 European champions from the penalty spot four minutes after the break.

Ajax’s Veltman was sent off for a foul on Neymar that led to the spot kick and Barça began to impose themselves on the 10-man home side, but Ajax held on for the win.

“In the first half we didn’t have a good attitude. At an individual level we were not as good as Ajax,” said Martino.

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