MADRID – With its 2-0 victory on Wednesday over AS Roma, Atletico Madrid preserved a slim hope of advancing to the knockout stage of the 2017-2018 Champions League, while Chelsea joined the ranks of those already qualified for the round of 16.
Atleti started match-day five with its back to the wall.
Having yet to win a game, the two-time finalist had only three points as it faced off against Roma, which sits second in Group C with eight points.
The Colchoneros delivered their best performance of the group stage, getting second-half goals from Antoine Griezmann – his first in nine matches – and Kevin Gameiro to climb to six points and give themselves a shot of reaching the next phase.
But the task won’t be easy with just one match left.
To advance, Atleti must defeat group-leader Chelsea at Stamford Bridge and rely on Qarabag to manage at least a draw with Roma in the Italian capital.
The Azerbaijani side lost 4-0 to the Blues in Baku on Wednesday.
The hosts were reduced to 10 men in the 21st minute, when Rashad Sadygov was sent off with a dubious straight red card after bringing down Willian in the area. Eden Hazard converted from the spot to put the visitors up 1-0.
Willian went on to score a brace, bracketing Cesc Fabregas’ successful penalty after another questionable foul.
Even a draw with Atletico would be enough for Chelsea to win the group.
The upset of the day came in Switzerland, where Basel defeated previously perfect Manchester United 1-0 with a goal in the 89th minute to make itself a factor in the race for the two knockout-stage berths from Group A.
The outcome leaves United with 12 points, three ahead of both Basel and CSKA Moscow, 2-0 winners Wednesday over Benfica.
Basel will face the Portuguese club – yet to earn a point – in their final match. The Russian side must travel to Old Trafford, where all-but-qualified United is undefeated in 38 games in all competitions.
In Group B, Paris Saint-Germain stayed perfect with a 7-1 pasting of Celtic, which gave the crowd at Parc des Princes a scare when they took the lead with a goal in the 1st minute by Moussa Dembele, a product of the PSG academy.
The fear was short-lived, however, as Neymar scored the first of his two on the night just minutes later.
Edinson Cavani also posted a double for the hosts, while Dani Alves, Kylian Mbappe and Marco Verratti supplied the rest of the goals.
With one match left to play, PSG has already set a new record for goals in the group stage (24) while conceding only one.
Bayern Munich won 2-1 away to Anderlecht to book its ticket for the round of 16 and put itself in position to win the group outright when it hosts PSG in the final match, though it would need to prevail by more than three goals.
Barcelona clinched a spot in the knockout stage and consolidated its position atop Group D with a 0-0 draw against Juventus in Turin.
Juve, with eight points, trails Barça by three and is just a point ahead of Sporting after the Portuguese side’s 3-1 victory over Olympiacos.
Both Sporting and Juventus play their final matches on the road, at Barcelona and Olympiacos, respectively.
Half of the slots in the round of 16 remain to be decided on match-day 6.
Already qualified are PSG, Bayern, Manchester City, Besiktas, Tottenham Hotspur, Real Madrid, Chelsea and Barcelona.