International Soccer
 
              === Barcelona edges Milan to secure Group H lead ===
 
 Milan,  Italy (Sports Network) - Barcelona clinched the top spot in Group H of
 the  Champions League  with  a  3-2 win  over  AC Milan  at  the  San Siro  on
 Wednesday.
 
 Both  teams  were already assured  a spot in the  knockout round, but with the
 title of group-winners up for grabs, all was left to play for in Milan.
 
 Barcelona  took  those honors with  an early own goal  from Mark van Bommel, a
 penalty  from Lionel Messi, and a second-half strike from Xavi. AC Milan twice
 equalized  over the course of the match with goals from Zlatan Ibrahimovic and
 Kevin-Prince Boateng.
 
 Van Bommel gifted the reigning European champions the lead in the 14th minute,
 redirecting  a  cross from Seydou Keita  into his own net. But Milan responded
 quickly,  as  Ibrahimovic took a pass  from Clarence Seedorf and slid a first-
 time shot under Barcelona goalkeeper Victor Valdes.
 
 Messi  converted  a penalty  kick in  the 31st minute,  giving the visitors an
 advantage heading into the break.
 
 AC  Milan  pulled level again  thanks to a brilliant  goal from Boateng in the
 54th  minute.  The Ghanaian controlled  a failed clearance and penetrated into
 the  box with a  back-heel flick before ripping a shot past Valdes at his near
 post.
 
 But  Barcelona showed their class once again, as Messi threaded a ball through
 four  Milan defenders to find Xavi, who calmly slipped a shot into the back of
 the net to give the visitors the win.
 
 The  victory sees  Barcelona maintain  its  unbeaten season  in the  Champions
 League,  as the Catalans  lead Group H with 13 points. AC Milan trails by five
 points.
 
 Play  will  conclude on  Dec.  6  with Barcelona  hosting  BATE  and AC  Milan
 traveling to Viktoria Plzen.
 
 
 Arsenal 2, Borussia Dortmund 1
 
 London,  England  - Arsenal  secured first  place in Group  F of the Champions
 League  on  Wednesday, dispatching  of Borussia  Dortmund with  2-1 win at the
 Emirates to reserve a spot in the knockout round.
 
 Robin  van Persie continued his rich vein of form, bagging a second-half brace
 to  see the Gunners  claim all three points. The Dutchman tallied goals in the
 49th and 86th minutes.
 
 Shinji  Kagawa made for a nervy finish for the home side as he pulled one back
 for  the German  club  late  on, but  it  proved to  be  nothing  more than  a
 consolation goal.
 
 Despite  managing  to score just  six goals through  five games in group play,
 Arsenal has accumulated 11 points to clinch the top spot in the group. It will
 head to Greece to face Olympiacos on Dec. 6, while Borussia Dortmund will host
 Marseille at Signal Iduna Park.
 
 
 Olympiacos 1, Marseille 0
 
 Marseille,  France  - Olympiacos kept  its hopes  of advancing to the knockout
 stage  alive,  earning a dramatic 1-0  win over Marseille on Wednesday to inch
 closer to the coveted runners-up finish in Group F.
 
 Ioannis  Fetfatzidis provided  the telling goal in the 82nd minute, seeing the
 Greek club pull to within a point of second-place Marseille.
 
 The  French side,  on seven points in  the group, will advance to the knockout
 round with a win over Borussia Dortmund on Dec. 6.
 
 Olympiacos, sitting third with six points, will host Arsenal the same day.
 
 
 Bayer Leverkusen 2, Chelsea 1
 
 Leverkusen, Germany - Chelsea surrendered a second-half lead in Group E action
 on  Wednesday,  falling to Bayer  Leverkusen, 2-1, at  the BayArena to see its
 Champions League hopes hit a slight speed bump.
 
 Didier  Drogba put  the visitors in front  with a goal in the 49th minute, but
 Leverkusen  battled back,  equalizing through Eren Derdiyok in the 73rd minute
 before  Manuel Friedrich notched  a late winner to see the home side move into
 first place in the group.
 
 Chelsea, deadlocked with Valencia with eight points apiece, faces a tough task
 when it hosts in-form Spanish side on the final match day of the group stage.
 
 Bayer Leverkusen, with nine points, can cement its place in the knockout round
 with just a draw at Genk on Dec. 6.
 
 
 Valencia 7, Genk 0
 
 Valencia,  Spain  - Valencia  topped Genk in  resounding fashion on Wednesday,
 earning  a  7-0 win over the  Belgian side at  the Mestalla to move level with
 Chelsea in Group E of the Champions League.
 
 The  home side was powered by a first-half hat trick from Roberto Soldado, who
 now  sits one  goal shy of the  Champions League scoring lead with five goals.
 Soldado  struck  in the 13th, 36th,  and 40th minutes after Jonas provided the
 opener in the 10th minute.
 
 Refusing  to  rest on its  laurels, Valencia hit for  three more in the second
 half,  as Pablo  Hernandez, Artiz  Aduriz, and  Ricardo Costa  each scored  to
 complete the rout.
 
 Valencia now faces a stern task in its final match of the group stage, needing
 a  win  at Stamford Bridge against  Chelsea to qualify for the knockout round.
 Winless Genk will host Bayer Leverkusen.
 
 
 Zenit 0, APOEL 0
 
 St. Petersburg, Russia - With a 0-0 draw at Zenit St. Petersburg on Wednesday,
 APOEL  clinched  a top-two  finish in  Group G  to become  the first team from
 Cyprus to ever qualify for the knockout round of the Champions League.
 
 The  match was momentarily suspended in the second half when supporters hurled
 lit flares onto the pitch, but after a cooling-off period, play resumed.
 
 Zenit  applied  a great deal  of pressure after the  restart and came close to
 scoring  on two  occasions, but  APOEL kept  the home  side at  bay to  earn a
 precious point.
 
 APOEL  leads Group  G on  nine points,  followed closely  by Zenit  with eight
 points and FC Porto with seven point. APOEL will host Shakhtar Donetsk on Dec.
 6,  while  Zenit will  need to pick  up at least  a draw  in Porto in order to
 qualify for the next round.
 
 
 FC Porto 2, Shakhtar Donetsk 0
 
 Donetsk,  Ukraine - FC  Porto netted two late goals in the second half against
 Shakhtar Donetsk, preserving its chances of advancing to the knockout round of
 the Champions League with a 2-0 win in Group G action on Wednesday.
 
 After  a  scoreless 78 minutes,  Hulk scored his  fourth goal of the Champions
 League  campaign to secure  the win for Porto. Razvan Rat conceded an own goal
 for Shakhtar to put the result beyond any doubt.
 
 The  win sets up  an appetizing fixture to conclude the group stage on Dec. 6,
 as Porto will host Zenit with both teams vying for a second-place finish and a
 spot in the next round.
 
 Shakhtar can still play the role of spoilers, as a win over APOEL on the final
 match  day  could see the  Cyprus club finish  runners-up, an invitation to be
 drawn against a European giant in the next round.
 
 
 Viktoria Plzen 1, BATE 0
 
 Barysaw,  Belarus  - Marek Bakos helped  Viktoria Plzen to its first Champions
 League  win in Group  H on Wednesday, as the Czech Republic side defeated BATE
 1-0.
 
 The  match  held little meaning as  European giants Barcelona and AC Milan had
 already  clinched  berths in the knockout  round, but Bakos ensured that Plzen
 would win the consolation match with his goal in the 42nd minute.
 
 Plzen  will host AC  Milan on Dec. 6 to wrap up its Champions League campaign,
 while BATE will play for its first win in the group when it faces Barcelona at
 Camp Nou.
 
 
 
 
 11/23 18:11:44 ET

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