Arsenal thump Bayern, Barcelona close to sealing last 16 berth

London, Oct 21 (IANS) English football club Arsenal remained alive in the European Champions League thanks to a 2-0 victory against mighty Bayern Munich here, while a pair of goals by Ivan Rakitic powered Barcelona to a win over BATE Borisov in the third round of UEFA Champions League’s group stage competition in Barysaw.

After opening the campaign with successive losses to teams they were expected to beat, Arsenal on Tuesday faced a must-win situation against a Bayern side riding a 12-match winning streak, Efe reported.

The match featured outstanding performances by both goalkeepers, yet it was an unaccustomed blunder by Bayern’s Manuel Neuer that proved decisive.

The World Cup-winning German international mishandled a clearance and opened the door for Olivier Giroud’s goal in the 77th minute.

Arsenal keeper Petr Cech withstood Bayern’s frantic efforts to equalise and Mesut Ozil added a second goal for the Gunners in stoppage time.

The outcome left Arsenal in third place in Group F with three points. Bayern and Olympiakos, a 1-0 winner Tuesday over Dinamo Zagreb, have six points each, while the Croatian club sits fourth with three points, trailing the Gunners on goal differential.

Barcelona, led by Neymar in the absence of the injured Lionel Messi, cruised to a 2-0 triumph over BATE Borisov on the two goals by Rakitic, who entered the game as a substitute in the 18th minute.

With seven points, Barcelona hold first place in Group F, where Bayer Leverkusen are second with four points after scoring two goals in the last six minutes to pull out a 4-4 draw with visiting AS Roma.

Belarussian outfit BATE are third with three points and Roma have two points.

In Group H, Valencia benefited from a pair of own goals against visiting Belgian league leaders Genk and won 2-1.

Sofiane Feghouli put Valencia ahead with a side-footed finish after 15 minutes and the score would have been bigger had it not been for a series of fine saves from Genk keeper Matz Sels.

Sels’ work was rewarded at the other end when Tomas Foket hammered a left foot shot into the roof of the Valencia net.

Valencia retook the lead in a slightly fortunate fashion 18 minutes from time when Stefan Mitrovic deflected a shot from Jose Gaya into his own net, although it needed a late save from Valencia keeper Jaume Domenech to assure the three points stayed in Mestalla.

With this win, Valencia boosted their point total to six, three behind Zenit St. Petersburg, who beat visiting Lyon 3-1 to stay perfect in the current Champions League campaign. Genk and Lyon have a point each.

Porto moved to the top of Group G with a 2-0 home victory against Maccabi Tel-Aviv, leaving the Portuguese side in first place with seven points and the Israeli club with none after three matches.

Chelsea and Dynamo Kiev battled to a 0-0 draw in Tuesday’s other Group G match. The Ukraine club now has five points, one more than the English Premier League (EPL) team.

In Leverkusen, Admir Mehmedi’s late equaliser ensured the hosts one point in a see-saw 4-4 draw with Roma.

Leverkusen established a two-goal lead within 18 minutes before Roma bounced back with four goals. However, the hosts fought back and scored two goals, through Kevin Kampl and Admir Mehmedi, in the closing period to wrap up their first draw in Group E on Tuesday.

It was the third eight-goal draw in the Champions League history.

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