City falter, again

Berne: Real Madrid and AC Milan led a procession of six teams into the Champions League last 16 on Wednesday while big-spending Manchester City failed again on the European stage to further dent English football's standing.

Milan qualified with a 3-1 win at Anderlecht, their goals including a spectacular overhead kick by Philippe Mexes which was a near carbon copy of Zlatan Ibrahimovic's extraordinary effort for Sweden against England last week.

Paris St Germain, Arsenal and Bundesliga pair Borussia Dortmund and Schalke 04 were the other teams to qualify with a match to spare as the competition continued on its predictable course. It was the 13th consecutive occasion that Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has led his side into the last 16.

Nine-time champions Real Madrid, who suffered the setback of a defeat at Dortmund on the way, went through with a 1-1 draw at City who were eliminated at the group stage for the second time in a row.

Karim Benzema gave Jose Mourinho's team the lead as they dominated the early stages and Sergio Aguero's 74th minute penalty was too late to save the hosts in Group D, even after Alvaro Arbeloa was sent off.

City manager Roberto Mancini said that winning the Champions League was not something that could be achieved overnight.

"If we think we can win a Champions League after two years, I think we are crazy," he said. "We are a good team, but we made some mistakes."

Seven-time champions Milan put their Serie A problems behind them as Stephan El Shaarawy, Mexes and Alexandre Pato scored in the second half at Anderlecht in Group C.

The highlight came when Frenchman Mexes chested up the ball on the edge of the area and sent a dipping bicycle kick into the far corner of the net to surprise even Milan's unflappable coach Massimiliano Allegri.

Bundesliga champions Dortmund gave the evening's most impressive display as they trounced four-time European champions Ajax Amsterdam 4-1 away in the same group despite allowing their opponents much of the possession.

(Reuters)