Defending champions Barcelona cruised into the last 16 of the Champions League with another impressive display on Tuesday with Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi both scoring twice in a 6-1 win against Roma, while Arsenal kept their hopes of advancing to the last 16 alive with a 3-0 away win over Dinamo Zagreb.
The Catalans and German heavyweights Bayern Munich both secured their places in the knockout round and demonstrated once again why they are considered to be the best teams in Europe right now, with Bayern crushing Olympiakos 4-0 at the Allianz Arena.
Barcelona discovered they had qualified from Group E before they had kicked a ball at the Camp Nou, thanks to the 1-1 draw between BATE Borisov and Bayer Leverkusen in Belarus.
Fresh from their victory against eternal rivals Real Madrid 4-0 at the weekend, the Catalans produced a performance that the Italians could not live with to secure top spot in the section.
Dani Alves set up Suarez to tap in the opener before Messi, in his first start since returning from injury, made it two at the end of a superb move involving Neymar and Suarez.
Suarez struck again just before the interval with a sweet volley and the rout continued in the second half as Neymar, Suarez and Messi all combined to give Gerard Pique a tap-in.
Neymar and Suarez then helped tee up Messi to get his second and Barca’s fifth on the hour and Adriano crashed in the sixth after Neymar’s penalty had been saved by Wojciech Szczesny.
Roma’s misery was compounded when Edin Dzeko had a late penalty saved by Marc Andre ter Stegen, although Dzeko did pull one back with the last kick of the game.
“When you see the players enjoy themselves in every phase of the game you have to be satisfied. They enjoy themselves on the training ground and when they are playing and that is great,” Barca coach Luis Enrique told TV3.
In the other Group E encounter, BATE opened the scoring in the second minute in Belarus through Mikhail Gordeichuk, but Admir Mehmedi equalised in the second half for Leverkusen.
Roma still have their destiny in their own hands, though -- a win at home to BATE next month will see them finish second.
A draw between Bayern and Olympiakos in Germany would have taken both teams through but Pep Guardiola’s team showed no mercy for their visitors as they raced into a three-goal lead inside the first 20 minutes.
Douglas Costa got the opener and Robert Lewandowski scored his 28th goal in 25 games this season before Thomas Mueller tapped in the third.
Holger Badstuber was sent off early in the second half on his return after his latest lengthy lay-off but Kingsley Coman added a fourth.
“It’s always important to finish the group first,” Bayern captain Philipp Lahm told Sky.
“That brings an advantage in the knockout stages that you play the second leg at home. It’s a good way to finish the year.”
While Bayern secured top spot in Group F, Arsenal kept their hopes alive by beating Dinamo Zagreb 3-0 at the Emirates Stadium.
Mesut Ozil headed the Premier League side ahead and Alexis Sanchez added a brace, meaning the Gunners can still qualify for the last 16, provided they win at Olympiakos next month by at least a two-goal margin or by winning by a one-goal margin having scored three or more goals.
Chelsea almost there
The situation appears rather more straightforward for Chelsea, who cruised to a 4-0 win over Maccabi Tel Aviv in Israel with Gary Cahill, Willian, Oscar and Kurt Zouma on target.
The other game in Group G saw Dynamo Kiev win 2-0 at Porto with Andriy Yarmolenko netting a first-half penalty before Derlis Gonzalez wrapped up the points.
Just two points separate Chelsea, Porto and Dynamo Kiev but Jose Mourinho’s side need only draw at home to the Portuguese club next month to go through.
“Very important, especially with what happened in Porto we really needed to win this match, and also important to get two victories in a few days,” Mourinho told BT Sport.
“I hope morale comes, tranquility comes, confidence comes.”
Zenit St Petersburg, who had already qualified for the last 16, made it five wins out of five in Group H by beating Valencia 2-0 in Russia.
Oleg Shatov and Artem Dzyuba scored in each half before Valencia defender Ruben Vezo was sent off.
Gent leapfrogged Valencia into second with a 2-1 victory away to Lyon that eliminated the French team from all European competition.
Jordan Ferri had put Lyon ahead but Danijel Milicevic levelled with a free-kick before Kalifa Coulibaly’s last-gasp winner.
Real Madrid and Manchester City, who play on Wednesday, had already secured their places in the knockout stage.