Dramatic Conclusions Mark End of UEFA Champions League Group Stage: Which teams progressed, who dropped to Europa League

Late Heroics, Surprises, and Heartbreaks Shape the 2023/24 Campaign’s First Phase

In a thrilling conclusion to the group phase of the 2023/24 UEFA Champions League, Wednesday’s matches delivered late drama, surprises, and heartbreaks that will resonate throughout the European football landscape.

The highlight of the evening came from AC Milan’s Samuel Chukwueze, whose late strike secured a 2-1 victory over Newcastle United, bringing an end to the Magpies’ European adventure. Eddie Howe’s side, seemingly destined for a Europa League spot, saw their hopes dashed by the Nigerian substitute’s decisive goal.

Meanwhile, Paris Saint-Germain’s 1-1 draw against Borussia Dortmund meant the French champions secured a spot in the last-16 as runners-up behind the German club. Galeno’s double propelled Porto to a 5-3 victory over Shakhtar Donetsk, securing second place in Group H behind winners Barcelona.

Manchester City, the title-holders, capped off their group phase with a 3-2 win away at Crvena Zvezda, maintaining a flawless record in Group G. The match saw a memorable performance from 20-year-old City Academy graduate Micah Hamilton, who scored on his senior debut and played a pivotal role in the victory.

City manager Pep Guardiola, in his post-match press conference, praised Hamilton, saying, “What a goal and what a game. I am so happy for him.”

However, there were notable casualties, with Manchester United enduring a dismal campaign and finishing at the bottom of Group A after a 1-0 defeat to group winners Bayern Munich on Tuesday.

As the dust settles on the group stage, the focus shifts to the last-16 draw scheduled for Monday at 11 am GMT (3 pm UAE). Seeded group winners and unseeded runners-up will be drawn against each other, with the stipulation that teams cannot face opponents from their group stage encounters or clubs from the same national association.

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The Champions League last-16 lineup boasts football powerhouses such as Bayern Munich, Real Madrid, Barcelona, and Manchester City, promising exciting clashes as the knockout stage unfolds. Additionally, teams finishing third enter the Europa League knockout round play-offs, setting the stage for further footballing drama in the coming weeks.

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