Sports Desk, Oct 11 (EFE).- Holders Real Madrid and Manchester City secured berths in the 2022-2023 Champions League round-of-16 with away draws Tuesday against Shakhtar Donetsk and Copenhagen, respectively.
But with just two games left in the opening stage of the competition, the races in groups E and H remain wide open.
A week after losing 2-1 to the Blancos in Madrid, Shakhtar had hopes of getting something out of a match played in Warsaw due to the war in their native Ukraine.
Looking ahead to next Sunday’s Clasico against Barcelona, Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti made six changes from the squad he picked for last weekend’s LaLiga match with Getafe.
The reigning European champions failed to capitalize on chances in the first half and found themselves down 1-0 less than a minute into the second half after conceding a goal to Oleksandr Zubkov.
Never one to panic, the winningest manager in the history of the competition waited to the 57th minute to start making changes, swapping out Eden Hazard for Vinicius Jr. and Aurelien Tchouameni for Luka Modric.
Lassina Traore had a chance to double the lead for the Ukrainian side in the 64th minute, but fired over the cross-bar.
Deep into stoppage time, Toni Kroos got the ball to countryman Antonio Rudiger, unmarked in the box, and the defender beat goalkeeper Anatoliy Trubin to salvage a draw for the Blancos, lead Group F with 10 points, 5 ahead of third-place Shakhtar.
RB Leipzig are second with 6 points after beating Celtic 2-0 on goals in the last 15 minutes by Timo Werner and Emil Forsberg.
Man City might count themselves lucky to come away from Copenhagen with the point they needed to punch their ticket for the knockout stage from Group G.
Inside the first 30 minutes, Pep Guardiola’s squad had a goal disallowed, watched Copenhagen keeper Kamil Grabara save a penalty from Riyad Mahrez and went down to 10 men with the expulsion of Sergio Gomez for denying a scoring opportunity.
The hosts, however, failed to capitalize on playing 60 minutes with a man advantage and the match ended 0-0, bringing City to 10 points, 4 better than Borussia Dortmund, who were forced to settle for a 1-1 draw at home to struggling Sevilla.
Tanguy Nianzou put Sevilla up in the 18th minute with his first goal since joining the LaLiga club. Jude Bellingham equalized for the hosts in the 35th.
In Group H, Paris Saint-Germain and Benfica started Match Day 4 level on points at 7 and ended the day on 8 points each after exchanging penalties to finish 1-1 in Paris.
The injured Lionel Messi watched from the stands as Kylian Mbappe made it 1-0 for PSG in the 39th minute and became the club’s all-time scoring leader in the Champions League.
The French striker came close to doubling the margin in the 52nd minute in what would prove to be PSG’s last serious opportunity of the night. Joao Mario brought Benfica back on terms from the spot at the hour mark.
Omer Atzili had a brace to power Maccabi Haifa to a 2-0 victory over Juventus and the two teams are each on 3 points.
Chelsea vaulted to the top of Group E with a 2-0 win against AC Milan, who went down to 10 men in the 18th minute with the expulsion of Fikayo Tomori on a straight red card for fouling Mason Mount in the box.
Jorginho converted from the spot and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang added a second goal in the 34th minute and the Blues improved to 7 points, 1 ahead of RB Salzburg, who are level with Dinamo Zagreb on 4 points each after a 1-1 draw Tuesday in the Croatian capital.