Edin Dzeko put Inter Milan to within touching distance of the Champions League last 16 with a brace in a 2-0 win over Shakhtar Donetsk which gives his side the chance of making the knockouts for the first time in a decade.
Inter now need Real Madrid to manage at least a draw with Sheriff Tiraspol later last night in Spain to secure their spot in next month’s draw with a match to spare thanks to two archetypal Dzeko goals in the space of six minutes midway through the second half.
The Bosnia forward lashed Inter into the lead with a precision first-time strike from the edge of the area and then nodded home a header to put the San Siro in party mood after the hosts had wasted a host of chances and had two goals ruled out for tight decisions.
Inter top Group D on 10 points after their third consecutive win in the competition, a point ahead of Madrid and four away from Sheriff in third.
It was a huge win with Inter’s final group match at the Santiago Bernabeu against Madrid in a fortnight’s time.
Meanwhile, Sebastien Haller came off the bench to score twice as Ajax battled back to beat Besiktas 2-1 in Turkey and wrap up top spot in their group.
The Dutch champions maintained their 100-percent record in Group C with a fifth win in as many games.
Haller drew level with Bayer Munich striker Robert Lewandowski at the top of this season’s goalscoring chart.
Chelsea thrash Juventus
On Tuesday night, holders Chelsea also reached the knockout phase by thumping Juventus at Stamford Bridge. The Blues took the lead through young defender Trevoh Chalobah’s third goal of the season.
Chelsea’s lead doubled in the 56th minute when right-back Reece James hammered a fine volley into the bottom corner. Chelsea grabbed their third goal less than two minutes later, Ruben Loftus-Cheek prodding the ball to Hudson-Odoi, who smashed home from close range. There was still time for Timo Werner, making his first appearance since an injury layoff, to come off the bench and score in added time. Zenit drew 1-1 with Malmo to secure a spot in the Europa League knockouts.
Barcelona were held to a goalless draw by Benfica at the Camp Nou in Xavi’s second game as coach, but remain above the Portuguese side in Group E. However, the Catalan club will have to beat Bayern Munich in Germany in their final group game to be sure of making the next round. Benfica host already-eliminated Dynamo Kiev in their last match, trailing Barca by two points.
Barcelona endured a nervy first half which saw Gavi waste the only clear opportunity, blazing over from close range when Memphis Depay was waiting in the middle for a tap-in.
In Group G, Lille made Salzburg wait to reach the last 16 as Jonathan David scored a first-half winner in a 1-0 victory in France. All four teams in the group can still go through, after Sevilla saw off Wolfsburg 2-0.
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