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Real Madrid continue defence of Uefa Champions League title

Karim Benzema scored Real Madrid's winner at Sporting Portugal. Reuters/Juan Medina

Frenchmen were the heroes for Real Madrid on Tuesday night as the defending champions qualified for the last 16 of the Uefa Champions League. Raphael Varane and Karim Benzema scored the goals that gave the Spanish league leaders a 2-1 win at Sporting Portugal.

Real are second in Group F, two points behind Borussia Dortmund who beat Legia Warsaw 8-4.

Aleksandar Prijovic gave Legia the lead after 10 minutes but a brace from Shinji Kagawa and a goal from Nuri Sahin put the Germans in control after 20 minutes.
But Prijovic’s second brought it back to 3-2 before another Dortmund burst made it 5-2 at the pause.

Real Madrid’s back line is unlikely to be as porous when they entertain the Germans on 7 December in a clash that will decide who advances to the last 16 as group winners.

The English champions Leicester City already boast that luxury. They qualified as the Group G kings after a 2-1 victory over Bruges. Eight years ago, Leicester City were in the third tier of English football. They’re now rubbing shoulders with the European elite. “It’s unbelievable,” said Leicester manager Claudio Ranieri. “It’s unbelievable. We’re top of the group and I am very happy and very proud. For my players and for my chairman and for the fans. We’re on another journey through the knockout rounds.”

Porto or FC Copenhagen from Group G will join Leicester City in the next stage.

Tottenham Hotspur, who challenged Leicester for the title up until the penultimate game of last season, slumped out of the competition. Spurs lost 2-1 at Monaco. The north Londoners’ defeat coupled with Bayer Leverkusen’s 1-1 draw at CSKA Moscow means Mauriccio Pochettino’s men can only target the Europa League when they host CSKA Moscow on 7 December.

“After five games in the Champions League we haven’t shown enough quality to compete in two tough competitions such as the Champions League and the Premier League," said Pochettino. "It’s been tough and it is good for us to learn. If we are in the Champions League next season, we’ll need to make some changes.”

While Spurs were seeking a lifeline in France, Lyon bought themselves some time with a 1-0 win at Dinamo Zagreb. Alexandre Lacazette scored the winner 18 minutes from time. Lyon will qualify for the knockout stages if they win their last match against Sevilla who lost to Juventus