Monaco win at Bayer Leverkusen to boost last 16 hopes
Monaco boosted their hopes of finishing as Champions League Group C winners with a 1-0 win at leaders Bayer Leverkusen, who progressed to the last 16 despite Wednesday`s defeat.
Roger Schmidt`s Leverkusen secured their place in the round of 16 because of Zenit St Petersburg`s 1-0 win at home to Benfica earlier.
Argentina`s Lucas Ocampos slotted home Monaco`s winner at Leverkusen`s BayArena with their only clear shot of the game to stun the hosts on 72 minutes.
"We were well prepared and we knew their game. We knew they would tire in the second half," said Monaco`s ex-Leverkusen striker Dimitar Berbatov.
"We seized our only chance and one goal is enough for tonight, everyone is happy."
Having frustrated the Werkself for 70 minutes, Leonardo Jardim`s Monaco dealt Leverkusen a heavy blow when midfielder Nabil Dirar supplied a superb cross which Ocampos fired home from close range.
"If you saw the game, you can only be hugely disappointed with the result," said Schmidt.
"Monaco believed in the lucky punch and their goal came from what looked like a harmless situation.
"Now we need to get something from the final game at Benfica."
The result means just two points separate the group`s top three teams with Leverkusen on nine, Monaco second on eight and Andre Villas-Boas`s Zenit third on seven points.
It means Monaco can finish as group winners if they beat Zenit at home in a fortnight in a winner-takes-all match when Leverkusen are away to bottom side Benfica.
The visitors` defenders Aymen Abdennour and Ricardo Carvalho impressed at the back, but the latter picked up a yellow card which means he is suspended for the crucial Zenit match.
The result capped a bad round for Germany`s Champions League sides as Bayern Munich lost at Manchester City, Borussia Dortmund were beaten at Arsenal and Schalke were hammered 5-0 at home to Chelsea.
Leverkusen failed in their pre-match promise to avenge their 1-0 defeat at Monaco in September`s opening round, which had been settled by Portugal`s Joao Moutinho.
The winning goal on 72 minutes at Leverkusen came after some great work on the right flank from veteran ex-Manchester United forward Berbatov.
The 33-year-old dribbled through a posse of Leverkusen defenders and freed Dirar, who motored down the sideline before swinging in a superb cross for Ocampos, the only Monaco forward in support, to bury.
It was the visitor`s first real chance of the game as Leverkusen were punished for their lack of finishing, having dominated the game for large stretches.
Germany international Lars Bender hit the crossbar in the first half as his Leverkusen side dominated with eight shots on goal to Monaco`s none.
Bayer`s replacement Swiss striker Josip Drmic, on after an hour for South Korea`s Son Heung-Min, fired wide with the game`s best chance on 66 minutes.
Drmic went close again late on when he skipped through three tackles but could only poke his shot towards Danijel Subasic in the Monaco goal.