Real Madrid strom into last-16

Paris : Leicester kept their Champions League dreams aflame, cruising into the last 16 with a 2-1 win over Belgium’s Club Brugge, where they were joined by Real Madrid — but not a crestfallen Tottenham.

Joining the hopeful debutants and the holders on the night were Juventus, Bayer Leverkusen and Monaco.

They join last year’s runners-up Atletico Madrid, Arsenal, Paris Saint-Germain, Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund, who had already booked their tickets to the knockout phase with two group games to spare.

Leicester’s success saw the Foxes advance as Group G winners in their maiden season in the event, giving a major fillip to Claudio Ranieri’s side, who are just two points above the domestic drop zone.

“We’re on another journey. I don’t know where, but we’re excited!” Ranieri said afterwards. Referring to his side’s poor league form the Italian added: “Maybe we have been more concentrated in the Champions League. Now the group is won, (it is) important to come back in the Premier League.”

Shinji Okazaki netted after just five minutes and a Riyad Mahrez penalty made it 2-0 before Jose Izquierdo notched a second-half consolation for Brugge.

“We wanted to finish first in the group. It wasn’t easy but we did it,” said Foxes’ Algerian star Mahrez.

The Colombian’s strike was the first goal Leicester have conceded in the tournament to date.

As Leicester celebrated, Tottenham in contrast saw their adventure in Europe’s top club competition come to a grinding halt after a 2-1 loss at Monaco, who won Group E in the process.

Spurs had a let off when their French keeper Hugo Lloris saved Radamel Falcao’s early spotkick. But quickfire goals from Djibril Sidibe and Thomas Lemar just after the break, sandwiching a Harry Kane penalty, did for the Londoners.

In the same group Bayer Leverkusen drew 1-1 at CSKA Moscow to take the Germans into the knockout stages following Spurs’ loss.

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Injury woes

Real Madrid face a possible injury crisis just 10 days away from the “El Clasico” derby football match away against traditional rivals FC Barcelona in La Liga on December 3.

Although Tuesday’s 2-1 win away against Sporting Lisbon saw Madrid assure their place in the last 16 of the Champions League, it came at a price as both forward Gareth Bale and left back Marcelo were forced to leave the pitch with injuries, reports Xinhua.

Bale was forced to leave the pitch in the 57th minute after a challenge from Sporting defender Sebastian Coates.

Although Bale returned to the pitch after treatment, he was seen limping and in evident pain minutes later and was replaced by Marco Asensio.

“I am still not sure about the status of the injury, it is an ankle problem and we will have to see, but at the moment he is not very good,” explained Zidane after their win on Tuesday.

Although Zidane said it was “premature” to say whether Bale would be able to play the El Clasico, he admitted the injury was “not a mere knock… but I don’t know what it is”.

An injury for Bale would be a serious blow for Real Madrid his possible replacement Alvaro Morata is also sidelined with a hamstring problem.

Marcelo hurt his ankle in a challenge with Gelson Martins and left the pitch with just 21 minutes remaining to be replaced by Fabio Coentrao.

Zidane will also hope Marcelo is not suffering from anything serious as Coentrao looked far from assured in his display against Sporting Lisbon.

Coentrao was poor during his 20 minutes on the ground, looking slow and off the pace and also conceding a penalty, which momentarily allowed Sporting to equalise in the game. IANS

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