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Thursday, Nov. 5, 2009

United, Chelsea advance from Champions League groups

LONDON (AP) Manchester United and Chelsea both scored late Tuesday to clinch places in the next round of the Champions League along with Bordeaux and FC Porto.

United was trailing 3-1 with six minutes left, but Paul Scholes and Antonio Valencia scored to give last season's runnerup the point it needed to advance.

Didier Drogba scored in the 82nd and 88th to put Chelsea 2-1 up at Atletico Madrid, although the 2008 finalist conceded an injury-time goal to Sergio Aguero and drew 2-2.

Bordeaux won 2-0 at Bayern Munich, while FC Porto's 1-0 win at APOEL Nicosia means it advances alongside Chelsea and eliminates the other Group D sides.

AC Milan and Real Madrid still have qualification to play for following their 1-1 draw in Italy.

Man United manager Alex Ferguson rested several key players and watched his much-changed side slip 3-1 behind before he introduced Wayne Rooney and Patrice Evra for the last half hour.

Rooney provided menace in attack and Scholes headed in a rightwing cross, before Valencia got a deflected equalizer in the second minute of added time.

Although Ferguson could point to the referee's mistake in booking Darren Fletcher for diving when he should have awarded United a penalty, the three-time European champions simply gave CSKA too much room to attack.

Alan Dzagoev put CSKA ahead in the 25th minute with a shot from a narrow angle and, although Michael Owen equalized, Milos Krasnic made it 2-1 with a turn and shot after more slack defending.

The unmarked Aleksei Berezutski scored at the start of the second half with a header when the United defense allowed a free kick from the left to reach him at the far post.

"Their goalkeeper made some fantastic saves," Ferguson said. "We lost three goals at home and you don't like that. But I can't believe how many chances we did create."

Wolfsburg moved to seven points, three fewer than United and three more than CSKA after a 3-0 win at Besiktas in the other Group B match.

Chelsea looked to be heading to a first defeat in Group D when Atletico substitute Aguero volleyed his team ahead in the 66th.

But Drogba marked his first Champions League match this season with a header in the 82nd and solo goal six minutes later. The Cote d'Ivoire striker was back in the Chelsea side following a three-match suspension for his post-match tantrum in last season's semifinal loss to Barcelona.

Atletico lost 4-0 to Chelsea two weeks ago but Aguero equalized with a curling free kick beyond goalkeeper Petr Cech.

"We could have done better," Drogba said. "It's really frustrating when you concede a goal like this."

Yoann Gourcuff and Marouane Chamakh scored to take Bordeaux to 10 points in Group A, two more than Juventus and six clear of four-time European champion Bayern, which is on the verge of elimination.

Under-pressure Bayern coach Louis van Gaal brought on winger Arjen Robben at the start of the second half and then introduced striker Mario Gomez but his team could not convert its majority possession.

"We didn't have luck," Van Gaal said. "In big games you have to score. There was a handball that wasn't given and that could have been our goal. It's such small things that decide big games."



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