Arsenal progress as City regress in Europe's top competition
A mixed night for British football in Europe saw Arsenal safely through to the knock-out phase of the UEFA Champions League but it proved to be the end of the line for Manchester City.
For the second season in succession Man City's European sojourn ends prematurely after a spirited draw with Real Madrid was not enough to stop them from crashing out of the continent's premier club competition.
Jose Mourinho predicted City's demise in the pre-match verbal sparring and his words proved prophetic; although Roberto Mancini's side demonstrated it might not be too long before they are dining at Europe's top table on equal footing.
Los Merengues were in the ascendancy from the off at the Etihad as they took a tenth minute lead when Karim Benzema profited on an abject piece of ball watching from Maicon. The Brazilian allowed Angel de Maria's cross to pass him as Benzema ghosted in behind to slot home from close range for his 16th goal in his last 20 Champions League appearances.
Whatever Mancini said at the interval had the desired effect. City snarled into action and was it not for a mixture of Sergio Aguero's profligacy from close range and a wonder save from Iker Casillas, they would have been level with just shy of half an hour still to pay.
The Argentine redeemed himself somewhat with 15 minutes left as he won the penalty he subsequently confidently dispatched. Contact from Alvaro Arbeloa, who earned himself a second yellow card into the bargain, was enough to invite a tumble.
Mourinho showed his displeasure when five added minutes were shown on the board as only he can with sarcastic pantomime applause, but City were unable to capitalise and find a winner.
Joining Madrid in the knock-out phase as Group D winners are Borussia Dortmund after the Bundesliga outfit strutted to a comprehensive 4-1 defeat of Ajax in Amsterdam.
Juergen Klopp's expansive and always entertaining outfit were far too strong for an Ajax side that had impressed in Manchester a fortnight ago.
Marco Reus had Ajax on the back foot after just eight minutes when he opened the scoring and the game was dead as a contest by half-time as elegant playmaker Mario Gotze doubled their advantage before the prolific Robert Lewandowski etched his name on the scoresheet. The Pole then added his second of the night after the break.
Danny Hoesen's late riposte proved to be the scantest of consolations for Frank de Boer's well beaten Ajax.
Arsenal carried the momentum of their derby day demolition of Tottenham at the weekend into their game with Montpellier and while it was hardly a classic, a 2-0 victory comfortably secures their passage to the knock-out round of matches.
After what was a scrappy first period Jack Wilshere proved the man on the spot as his smart clipped finish, from Olivier Giroud's towering knock-down off a Thomas Vermaelen left wing delivery, had the Gunners faithful saluting their rejuvenate hero.
With any lingering nerves eased, Arsenal set about playing their football and secured victory with a stunning Lukas Podolski effort. Again Giroud was the architect but this was a moment of opportunism all of the German's design. After he played the ball into the feet of his strike partner a lofted return pass was dispatched via a scorching dipping volley that gave Jeffrey Jourdren not a prayer in Montpellier's goal.
Schalke made hard work of joining Arsenal in the next round but did just that, as Christian Fuchs' goal 13 minutes from time was enough to see off notoriously poor travellers Olympiacos.
Malaga qualified for the knockout phase as Group C winners despite a second-half comeback from Zenit St Petersburg.
The points looked like they were heading in only one direction when the Primera Division side took a two-goal lead inside nine minutes - Diego Buonanotte opening the scoring and Sebastian Fernandez profiting from a goalkeeping error.
But Zenit fought back well and goals from Danny and Viktor Fayzulin, four minutes from time, earned them a share of the spoils.
Joining Malaga in the next round are seven-time European champions AC Milan after they saw off Anderlecht 3-1 on their travels.
After what was an evenly contested first period it was left to starlet Stephan El Shaarawy to point the game in Milan's direction as he got the opener.
The contest will not be remembered for El Shaarawy's goal though but rather Milan's second, that saw Philippe Mexes put his side in pole position courtesy of an outlandishly impressive overhead kick that belied his centre-half status. Simply stunning.
Anderlecht substitute Tom de Sutter briefly threatened a fight back when his goal reduced the deficit, but it was Milan's Alexandre Pato - also off the bench - who had the final say in the game's dying embers.
Return on investment
In Group A, Ezequiel Lavezzi who will be the toast of Paris after his brace in Kiev was enough to secure PSG's safe passage into the next round.
The former Napoli man struck either side of half-time to down Dynamo and ensure the club's Qatari owners receive their first payback on the most lavish of investments.
Joining them when the competition gets serious will be Porto after the Portuguese giants proved to have too much for Dinamo Zagreb as they won 3-0 in front of their own supporters.
Argentine schemer Lucho Gonzalez put Porto on the right track after 20 minutes and with Zagreb unable to fight their way back into the contest, it was left to Moutinho and Silvestre Varela to hammer the final nails in Dynamo's Champions League coffin in the second period.