Cluj beat below-par United
CFR Cluj beat a below-strength Manchester United 1-0 thanks to Luis Alberto’s fabulous second-half strike, but were denied a spot in the round-of-16 by Galatasaray’s victory against SC Braga on Wednesday. The unheralded Romanian side finished Group H level on 10 points with Galatasaray, who won in Portugal, but behind the Turkish team courtesy of their head-to-head record. Cluj will still head into the Europa League as third-place finishers in good heart after a surprise win at Old Trafford, with Luis Alberto sending a swerving long-range shot high into the net in the 56th minute. United played a virtual reserve team with first place guaranteed and paid the price, despite dominating most of the match.
Galatasaray rally to advance
Second-half goals from Galatasaray’s in-form striker Burak Yilmaz and substitute Aydin Yilmaz canceled out SC Braga’s opener in a memorable 2-1 comeback win that sent the Turkish champions through to the knockout phase for the first time in a decade. Galatasaray were second in Group H before the match, with the same points as CFR Cluj, but ahead on goal-difference. They needed to achieve a result that at least matched the Romanians’ at Manchester United to reach the round-of-16. Cluj won 1-0 at United, but the Turkish side matched them by muscling out a late win in a cold evening at Braga’s AXA Stadium. After several wasted chances, the Portuguese scored the opener through Brazilian attacking midfielder Mossoro within half an hour, but in the second half Galatasaray reacted. They equalized through Burak Yilmaz after 58 minutes, before Aydin Yilmaz pounced for the winner late in the second half.
Valencia edge Lille 1-0
Brazilian striker Jonas scored from the penalty spot as Valencia won 1-0 away at LOSC Lille Metropole on Wednesday, although it was not enough to guarantee top spot in Group F because Bayern Munich also won. Bayern, who thrashed BATE Borisov 4-1, finished top of the group because of a superior head-to-head record with Valencia — beating the Spanish club at home and drawing away. Lille finished in last place behind Belarusian club BATE and failed to qualify for the knockout stage for the second straight season. Jonas, who scored both goals when Valencia beat Lille 2-0 at home in October, scored from the spot in the 36th minute after being fouled by Lille defender Marko Basa. The French club went close to equalizing late on.
West Ham eye new stadium
Premier League club West Ham United have been chosen as the leading bidder to move into the Olympic Stadium in London and can now try to finalize commercial terms, London Mayor Boris Johnson said on Wednesday. However, an agreement with West Ham remains conditional on a number of issues, including sharing the costs of converting the stadium for soccer use and ensuring that taxpayers benefit from any knock-on increase in the value of the club. The Olympic Stadium, centerpiece of the London Games this year, was built at a cost of about ￡430 million (US$693 million), funded by public money. West Ham have played at the Boleyn Ground, often referred to as Upton Park, in east London since 1904.