Arsenal squandered a chance to wrap up first place in Champions League Group A as Paris Saint-Germain hit back to earn a 2-2 at the Emirates Stadium on Wednesday.
Arsene Wenger’s side were on course to secure top spot and a possible easier draw in the last 16 after taking a 2-1 lead in the second half.
Having trailed to Edinson Cavani’s first-half opener, the Gunners equalised through Olivier Giroud just before the break and went ahead in the second half thanks to a Marco Verratti own goal.
But Lucas equalised in the closing stages to ensure Arsenal and PSG, who had both already qualified for the last 16, will have to wait until the final round of group matches to settle their fight for pole position.
Arsenal, who travel to Basel for their last match on December 6, sit second in the group, level on points with PSG, who play Ludogorets in their final fixture.
And if they stay second, they will face either Barcelona, Juventus, Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid or Borussia Dortmung – increasing their chances of getting knocked out in the Last 16 for the seventh season in a row.
After paying the price for finishing second in their group several times in recent years, Wenger had called on his players to finish in first place so they might avoid yet another daunting last 16 draw.
But that message didn’t seem to have hit home as Arsenal made another unconvincing start just days after their tepid performance in Saturday’s 1-1 draw at Manchester United.
Barca, City, into last 16
Lionel Messi fired Barcelona into the last 16 of the Champions League on Wednesday after a 2-0 win at Celtic as they were joined in the knockout rounds by Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City.
The Argentine star returned from illness to score both goals at Celtic Park — the second from the penalty spot — to send the five-time European champions through as winners of Group C.
City recovered from a goal down in Germany to earn a 1-1 draw at Borussia Moenchengladbach as both sides finished with 10 men.
Raffael grabbed the opening goal for Gladbach on 23 minutes, but David Silva poked in Kevin De Bruyne’s cross just prior to the break before Lars Stindl and Fernandinho saw red in the second half.
In Madrid, French duo Kevin Gameiro and Antoine Griezmann netted second-half goals as Atletico — runners-up twice in the past three seasons — registered their fifth win in as many matches in the Champions League.
Bayern stunned in Russia
Bayern Munich crashed to a shock 3-2 defeat in Rostov and could face a daunting draw in the next round after Atletico Madrid’s 2-0 victory over PSV Eindhoven guaranteed Diego Simeone’s men first place in Group D.
Douglas Costa rifled Bayern ahead on 35 minutes in Russia, but Rostov equalised through Sardar Azmoun on the stroke of half-time before going ahead courtesy of a Dmitri Poloz penalty.
Juan Bernat swiftly levelled for the Germans, but Ecuador international Christian Noboa fired competition debutants Rostov to a first group stage victory with the winner on 67 minutes.
Besiktas in stunning comeback
Besiktas launched a remarkable second-half recovery as they fought back from three goals down against Benfica to draw 3-3 in Istanbul.
Benfica, champions of Europe in 1961 and 1962, appeared to be sailing through to the last 16 after cruising 3-0 ahead inside barely half an hour through goals from Goncalo Guedes, Nelson Semedo and Ljubomir Fejsa.
But the Turks pulled one back on the hour courtesy of Cenk Tosun before two goals in the final seven minutes from Ricardo Quaresma and Vincent Aboubakar revived their qualification hopes.