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United books knockout round spot with Leverkusen romp
Leverkusen, Germany (SportsNetwork.com) - Manchester United claimed a place in the Champions League round-of-16 on Wednesday after a comfortable 5-0 victory over Bayer Leverkusen in Group A play at the BayArena.
After surrendering a 90th-minute equalizer against Cardiff City in Premier League play on Sunday, the Red Devils were eager to get back on the pitch and opened the scoring with a well-executed counter-attack in the 22nd minute.
Shinji Kagawa got the play started with a quick pass to Wayne Rooney on the left side of the pitch and continued his run toward goal, drawing two defenders as Rooney swung a cross into the penalty area. The ball soared toward the far post where Antonio Valencia was there to stab it past Leverkusen goalkeeper Bernd Leno.
Eight minutes later it was 2-0 for the visitors after Rooney whipped a great free kick into the penalty area that was flicked past Leno by Leverkusen center-back Emir Spahic for the own goal.
United put the result to bed with 25 minutes to play when Jonny Evans got on the end of a loose ball following a corner kick and knocked it home, and Chris Smalling added a goal 13 minutes from time and Nani capped the rout with a world-class strike with the outside of his boot in the 88th minute to cap the rout.
United maintains its spot atop the group with one match to play, while Leverkusen drops to third place in the group with seven points.
Elsewhere in Group A on Wednesday, Ukrainian club Shakhtar Donetsk climbed to second place after a 4-0 win over Real Sociedad. Luiz Adriano opened the scoring in the 37th minute while Alex Teixeira scored three minutes after the break and Douglas Costa added a brace.
In Group B, Artuo Vidal bagged a hat trick as Juventus claimed a 3-1 win over FC Copenhagen. The Italians would need a draw in their final group stage match to clinch a spot in the knockout phase of the competition.
Real Madrid eased to a 4-1 victory over Galatasary despite going down a man in the 25th minute after Sergio Ramos was sent off. Gareth Bale struck first in the 37th minute, but it was canceled out by an Umut Bulut tally one minute later.
Los Blancos then seized firm control of the fixture as Alvaro Arbeloa, Angel Di Maria and Isco all found the back of the net to earn the group's top spot.
Paris Saint-Germain advanced to the knockout round after getting a late winner from Edinson Cavani against Oylmpiakos to claim the top spot in Group C. Zlatan Ibrahimovic struck in the seventh minute before it was pulled back by Kostas Manolas for the Greek side. Cavani then bagged the winner in stoppage time to send the French club through.
Rodrigo's stoppage-time tally was the winner for Benfica in a 3-2 victory over Belgian side Anderlecht. Chancel Mbemba opened the scoring for Anderlecht, but Nemanja Matic put the sides level before an own goal by Mbemba gave Benfica the lead. Aleksandar Mitrovic hit an equalizer in the 76th for Anderlecht but Rodrigo's strike sealed it for the Portuguese side.
Arjen Robben, Mario Gotze and Thomas Muller scored for Bayern Munich as the defending European champs claimed a 3-1 victory over CSKA Moscow in Group D, becoming the first team to win 10 consecutive Champions League matches
Manchester City collected goals from Sergio Aguero, Samir Nasri, Alvaro Negredo and Edin Dzeko in a comfortable 4-2 result over Viktoria Plzen in Group D.
11/27 16:55:52 ET
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