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December 6, 2022
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Champions League: Chelsea, Marseille and Zenit in the last 16

Chelsea FC, Olympique de Marseille and FC Zenit St Petersburg held their nerve to move into the UEFA Champions League round of 16 on the final night of games in Groups E to H on Tuesday night, according to uefa.com.

In Group E, Chelsea knew they needed to beat Valencia CF to make sure of progress past the group stage for the ninth year running. Within 22 minutes they were 2-0 up with Didier Drogba scoring the first and making the second for Ramires. In the second half Drogba sealed a 3-0 victory and that was enough for Chelsea to finish top as eliminated KRC Genk drew 1-1 against Bayer 04 Leverkusen, who already were through but have fallen to second. Valencia CF, like all the third-placed teams, transfer to the UEFA Europa League round of 32.

For most the night Olympiacos looked set to come second in Group F as two first-half goals set them on the way to a 3-1 home victory against section winners Arsenal FC. The only way Olympiacos could have missed out was if Marseille beat Borussia Dortmund – at at one stage the French visitors were two down but they pulled one back in first-half added time then in the last five minutes scored twice for a 3-2 success to deny Olympiacos.

The other place up for grabs was in Group G and Zenit St Petersburg held on for a 0-0 draw at FC Porto to finish a point ahead of their hosts. Although APOEL, already qualified, lost 2-0 at home to eliminated FC Shakhtar Donetsk, the first Cypriot side ever to get through the group stage still do so in first place on head-to-head above Zenit, both a point clear of Porto.

Cyprus came to a standstill on Tuesday evening while APOEL’s Group G game at FC Zenit St Petersburg was televised, and after the club earned the 0-0 draw needed to guarantee a top-two finish in the section, the streets of Nicosia teemed with flag-waving fans. Former APOEL player Costas Fasouliotis, now a leading commentator, shared a nation’s enthusiasm. “In my opinion, this is the greatest Cypriot team ever,” he said, quoted by uefa.com. “”I believe they have what it takes to go beyond the round of 16, provided they finish top of the group”.”

In other games FC Barcelona and AC Milan were certain to advance from Group H before kick-off. Group winners Barcelona overcame FC BATE Borisov 4-0 and Milan were pegged back for a 2-2 draw at FC Viktoria Plzen, who have the consolation of a UEFA Europa League berth.

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