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Lyon, Chelsea miss chance to qualify for Champions League last 16

Lyon were soundly beaten in Saint Petersburg on Wednesday.
Lyon were soundly beaten in Saint Petersburg on Wednesday. Anton Vaganov, REUTERS

Chelsea and Lyon both missed opportunities to qualify for the Champions League knockout stages on Wednesday after failing to claim the wins they needed to book their places in the last 16.

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Frank Lampard's Chelsea were eight minutes away from sealing their spot at Valencia when Daniel Wass' overhit cross crashed in off the post to earn the La Liga side a deserved 2-2 draw from a pulsating encounter.

The point puts Valencia top of Group H, level on eight points with Chelsea and one ahead of Ajax, who are hosted by bottom side Lille later on Wednesday.

A win would have put Chelsea through regardless of how Ajax do in France and Christian Pulisic put themselves in a great position with a 50th-minute tap-in to put the Blues ahead.

However the hosts, who had taken the lead through Carlos Soler five minutes before the break only to see Mateo Kovavic level seconds later, put the Premier League outfit through the ringer in the second half and can consider themselves unlucky to not have taken all three points.

Albert Celades missed a host of good chances and watched in horror as Kepa Arrizabalaga pushed away Daniel Parejo's spot-kick 25 minutes from time.

"We can't turn away from fact they had a lot of chances. They were arriving in our box too much," Lampard told broadcasters BT Sport.

"Credit to the players for their work-rate and hanging on in there, but sometimes you have to be more secure than that."

Kepa's save could be crucial to deciding Chelsea's fate as they have their destiny in their hands going into the final round of matches.

The Blues will qualify for the last 16 with a home win over Lille, as Ajax will host Valencia and it's impossible for both sides to top the 11 points Chelsea would have should they win at Stamford Bridge on December 10.

Zenit sink Lyon

Lyon meanwhile risk not making the knockouts at all after losing 2-0 at Zenit Saint Petersburg thanks to goals in either half from Artem Dzyuba and Magomed Ozdoev.

A victory in Group G over the Russian Premier League leaders would have claimed a knockout spot for Rudi Garcia's men but they now need results in other matches to go their way in order to qualify.

The win for the home side meanwhile maintains their hopes of reaching the next round.

The French outfit, who sit third behind Zenit but level with the Russians on seven points, welcome group leaders Leipzig next as Zenit travel to Benfica on December 10.

Later on Wednesday German outfit Leipzig, who are two points ahead of Zenit and Lyon, host the Portugese champions knowing a win would secure a first ever last 16 spot for Julian Nagelsmann's side in the top-tier competition.

"We owed it to ourselves to do better. We needed at least a draw to keep matters in our own hands when it comes to qualifying," said a disappointed Garcia.

(AFP)

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