Barca lead charge | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, November 29, 2007 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, November 29, 2007

UEFA Champions League

Barca lead charge

Inter, Sevilla, Roma also through


Barcelona sensation Lionel Messi (R) sends the Lyon keeper the wrong way as he strokes home a spot-kick during their Champions League tie at the Stade Gerland on Tuesday.Photo: AFP

Barcelona, Inter Milan, Roma and Sevilla all guaranteed their places in the knock-out stages of the Champions League after the penultimate round of games in Europe's elite club competition on Tuesday.
The quartet join the already-qualified Arsenal and Manchester United from Groups E-H.
The two other qualifying spots from that side of the competition will be decided in the final round of pool games on December 12, with Fenerbahce and PSV Eindhoven battling for second place in Group G, and Rangers hosting Lyon in a Group E showdown.Barcelona were made to work hard for their 2-2 draw in Lyon, the home side twice coming from behind to draw level.
A goal for each team inside the first seven minutes set the tone for a high-tempo match which also featured two second-half penalties for either side.
Andres Iniesta gave the Catalans the lead, but Juninho equalised four minutes later with a 30-yard free-kick that went high and missed all of its targets, but bounced over the diving Victor Valdes into the goal.
Barca again took the lead with a Lionel Messi penalty in the 58th minute after the Argentinian was fouled by Sebastien Squillaci as he strode towards goal.
But with 10 minutes remaining Lyon were given a lifeline as the referee pointed to the penalty spot for an Eric Abidal foul on Abdul Kader Keita.
Juninho's effort wrong-footed Valdes and levelled the scores at 2-2 in the 79th minute.
Lyon will now travel to Ibrox to face Rangers, who went down 3-2 to Stuttgart but are ahead of the French team on goal difference and need only a draw to qualify.
Ciprian Marica gave Stuttgart their first victory and their first points of the tournament with his 85th minute winner, poking in Ludovic Magnin's cross to settle a pulsating match.
Substitute Charlie Adam had put Rangers ahead with his first touch of the ball in the 27th minute, but Cacau brought Stuttgart level with a cheeky backheel in first-half stoppage time.
Stuttgart's Mexican international Pavel Pardo scored with a second-half thunderbolt from 20 yards, but Barry Ferguson capitalised on lapses in the German defence to equalise before Marica's strike.
"Lyon was always going to be an important game," Rangers manager Walter Smith said.
"We have a big night to look forward to at Ibrox and if we show the same endeavour I'll be pleased."
Inter Milan secured top spot in group G with a 3-0 victory over Fenerbahce at the San Siro.
An own goal from Brazilian defender Edu, a clever finish from Sweden forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic and a late clincher from Chilean substitute Luis Antonio Jimenez lit up an otherwise dull affair.
The three points mean that Inter have 12 points from five games and cannot be caught, while Fenerbahce, second on eight points, will be feeling uneasy following PSV Eindhoven's 1-0 win at CSKA Moscow, which moved them up to seven points. CSKA are out of contention with just one point.
Fenerbahce host the Russians in two weeks' time while PSV entertain Inter in matches that will decide who claims second spot in the group.
Inter's Serie A rivals Roma made sure of their qualification with a 4-1 routing of winless Dynamo Kiev in Group F.
Roma's Montenegran striker Mirko Vucinic, who is deputising for injured club captain Francesco Totti, netted a double while veteran defender Christian Panucci and Ludovic Giuly added one apiece.
Guinean striker Ismael Bangoura scored a second-half consolation goal for the home side.
"It's an excellent result! We achieved exactly what we desired -- a place in the knockout phase," Roma manager Luciano Spalletti said. Manchester United winger Cristiano Ronaldo hit a stoppage-time stunner that clinched a 2-1 win over Sporting Lisbon that ensured the English side will finish top of Roma's.
United trailed after Tomasz Kuszczak misjudged Abel's long range strike but Carlos Tevez came off the bench to equalise and Ronaldo stole the points at Old Trafford with a superb free-kick.
In southern Spain, Sevilla gained revenge for their humiliating 3-0 defeat by Arsenal in the opening game of this season's Champions League when they turned the tables with a 3-1 win.
First half goals by Seydou Keita and Luis Fabiano, followed by a late penalty by Fredi Kanoute, put them on top of Group H after an early strike by Arsenal's Eduardo Da Silva had put the London side in front.
Sevilla now have 12 points from their five games, with first place in their group vitally important to keep them away from European giants and former winners like Manchester United and AC Milan in the draw for the last 16.

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