Milan and Barcelona on way to reaching knockout stage after easy wins

Zlatan Ibrahimovic
Ibrahimovic celebrates his opener for Milan against BATE Borisov

European giants Milan and Barcelona made qualification for the Champions League knockout stages appear to be a mere formality as they recorded straight-forward home wins over BATE Borisov and Viktoria Plzen respectively.

In Italy, Milan were never troubled by the Ukrainians after Zlatan Ibrahimovic opened the scoring after 33 minutes. Kevin Prince Boateng secured the victory with a second in the 71st minute.

Elsewhere in Group H, Spanish champions Barcelona recorded a similar 2-0 scoreline against Czech side Plzen, who could not muster a single shot on goal.

Andres Iniesta opening the scoring on 10 minutes and David Villa added a second eight minutes from time after the Spaniards missed a hatful of chances.

In Group G, surprise package Apoel Nicosia continue to top the table after holding on for a 1-1 draw away to Porto.

Brazilian Hulk gave the home side a 13th-minute lead but his countryman Ailton Almeida levelled six minutes later to rescue a point for the Cypriot club.

Apoel are a point above Zenit St Petersburg, who twice fought back to scramble a point at Shakhtar Donetsk.

The Ukrainians led twice through Willian and Luiz Adriano but were pegged back by goals from Roman Shirokov and Viktor Fayzulin.

Bayer Leverkusen staged a dramatic second half comeback to beat Valencia 2-1 and put themselves in a strong position to qualify for the knockout stages with Group E leaders Chelsea, who thrashed Genk.

Brazilian Jonas gave Valencia a 24th-minute lead but two goals in four second half minutes from Andre Schurrle and Sidney Sam gave Leverkusen a win that puts them four points ahead of the Spanish side.

Arsenal took control of Group F with a last-minute winner from Aaron Ramsey in Marseille, who slip to second.

Olympiakos claimed their first points with a 3-1 win over Borussia Dortmund in Greece.

Rafik Djebbour and Francois Modesto snatched the victory after Jose Holebas' eighth minute opener had been cancelled out midway through the first half by Dortmund's Robert Lewandowski.

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