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Page last updated at 18:30 GMT, Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Tuesday football as it happened


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By Phil Dawkes

2211: That's your lot from me folks. All that is required is to thank you all for reading. In true James Bond credit style, the text commentary will return tomorrow in Champions League Wednesday, starring Sam Lyon as your chief commentator. I'll see thee.

Tom Dutton on Twitter: "Safe to say Man City will probably go on and win the Premier League now, with no other distractions #BBCFootball"

Matthias Wiederin on Twitter: "Top of the group or not, who cares. If you want to be the best, you have to beat the best... Bring on Barcelona! #bbcfootball"

Full time
FULL-TIME Manchester United 2-2 Benfica
Alistair Magowan reports: "Manchester United show once again show that they don't like doing things the easy way and you wonder if the periods of carelessness this campaign will cost them more dearly if they make it to the knockout stages."

Full time
FULL-TIME Napoli 2-1 Manchester City
Marc Higginson reports: "City have it all to do now, and they only have themselves to blame. They conceded two soft goals and were grateful to Joe Hart for not conceding more."

2204: Just to clear up a loose-end from tonight's action (well, as much as is possible), Oxford City and Redbridge are currently drawing 1-1 in extra-time of their FA Cup first round replay. I realise many of you have been hanging on a long time to get the latest on that.

Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini: "I don't think we deserved to lose the game, but we did concede two stupid goals. We knew Cavani would be on the near post for the first goal, and we didn't mark him for the second. After our equaliser we had two chances to go 2-1 up so it was strange that we conceded. (On qualification) This is the Champions League, never say never."

Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson: "The goals were a bit freakish. An own goal and then bad kick out by David de Gea. The pass back could have been better but David should have played it into the stands and we didn't hold onto the lead. We played well tonight, and the team deserved better. It's a cruel game at times. It will be a hard game in Basel. The chips are down but I have every confidence in the team."

Tom Doyle on Twitter: "Utd seem too pedestrian and predictable of late. The #mufc team is too rigid without Rooney, Welbeck or Cleverley - worrying. #BBCFootball"

Colin Holden on Twitter: "Are Man City being taught a harsh lesson in Europe? Experience in Champs league is vital and it's showing #bbcfootball"

James Todd on Twitter: "Terrible final ball by United tonight and once again trying to be too clever in defence. Need to get the basics right #BBCFootball #MUFC"

2149: You can't say either of tonight's results were unjust though. Napoli were the better side in Italy, while Benfica were solid in defence and shrewd on the counter-attack.

2147: Well, what can you say after that? Both Manchester sides went into this round of matches with such high hopes of last 16 qualification and both are now staring down the barrel at a group stage elimination. United's fate remains in their own hands, but City are left relying on a result from elsewhere as well as their own.

Jason on Twitter: "United are sure making a mess of their group after what turned out to be a straightforward group when the draw was made. #MUFC #BBCFootball"

Joel Dawson on Twitter: "What was Mancini saying about being on the same level as Barca and Real?! They are heading to Europa League football with Stoke!#bbcfootball"

CHAMPIONSHIP & FA CUP FULL-TIME UPDATE: In the Championship, Chris Burke scores a late winner for Birmingham as they defeat Burnley 2-1. Coventry v Cardiff finishes all-square at 1-1. In the FA Cup, Stourbridge are through to the second round after surprisingly beating League Two side Plymouth 2-0. Gillingham win 3-2 against Bournemouth and Preston are beaten 1-0 at Southend while Aldershot, Grimsby, AFC Wimbledon, Tamworth and Wrexham are all through to the next round.

Krishant Parmar on Twitter: "Got to love the CL...last group games will see Mancunians reduce their fingernails to nothing #bbcfootball"

CHAMPIONS LEAGUE FULL-TIME UPDATE: Basel have heaped the pressure on United after holding off a spirited Galati comeback. But just a point for Sir Alex Ferguson's men in Switzerland next month will assure a last 16 passage at the expense of their hosts. Defeated City face a massive task against Bayern Munich - though the already-qualified Germans may be tempted to take their foot off the gas. And Dinamo Zagreb ruined Madrid's hopes of equalling their record Champions League win with two late goals.

2139: The Stadio San Paolo erupts as the final whistle blows. Napoli take the spoils to leave City needing to beat already-qualified Bayern Munich while hoping Villarreal take at least a point off Napoli. That is going to be one hell of a game at Eastlands in two weeks time.

2137: GOALFLASH Real Madrid 6-2 Dinamo Zagreb (Ivan Tomecak)

2137: FULL-TIME Napoli 2-1 Manchester City

2136: We're two minutes into three minutes of scheduled injury time in Naples. It is not looking good for City.

2135: All the smiles are on Portuguese faces as Benfica get the draw that sees them qualify for the last 16. United are left to consider what went wrong before dusting themselves down for a winner-takes-all last group match at Basel.

2134: FULL-TIME Manchester United 2-2 Benfica

2133: United are inches away from a winner as a cross from the right is headed over his own goal by a Benfica head.

2133: We're into the last minute of that added time in Manchester...

2131: Three minutes of injury time to go at Old Trafford.

2131: It's getting a bit nasty in Naples as City's Aleksandar Kolorov is booked for a lunging foul on Ezequiel Lavezzi.

2130: Meanwhile, at Old Trafford, Benfica nearly snatch what would likely be a late winner. Rodrigo goes on a great run before shooting from 25 yards, but the effort is into the side netting.

2129: City given a sniff in Naples. A corner is volleyed at goal by Mario Balotelli but home keeper Margan De Sanctis saves.

2128: So the comeback is well and truly on at the Bernabeu, but there's little sign of a winner at Old Trafford. The home side are pressing but producing little against a well-drilled Benfica side. Javier Hernandez is on now as well. It's all-out assault from Sir Alex's side.

2126: GOALFLASH Real Madrid 6-1 Dinamo Zagreb (Fatos Beqiraj)

2125: Well, if you can't have Carlos Tevez, there's always Sergio Aguero, who has just replaced Edin Dzeko for City. Dzeko has been poor. City will be hoping his Argentine replacement can bring the late magic though.

Text in your views on 81111 (UK)
From Anon, via text: "I hate to say it but the one person who would change this tie for Man City.....Mr Tevez."

2123: GOALFLASH Otelul Galati 2-3 FC Basel (Liviu Antal)

CHAMPIONS LEAGUE UPDATE: That crumb of comfort from the Allianz Arena has disappeared for City fans, with Franck Ribery restoring Bayern Munich's two-goal lead against Villarreal. It's all quiet elsewhere across Europe… apart from at the Bernabeu of course. Karim Benzema bags his second of the night to equal Real's biggest Champions League win. That 6-0 success came against Racing Genk in September 2002.

2122: Napoli miss a great chance to seal victory against City, with Marek Hamsik hitting the post after an amazing crossfield pass from Edinson Cavani. At the other end, Mario Balotelli gets behind the Napoli defence and forces a fine save from Morgan De Sanctis. Then Napoli go right up the other end and Hart makes another fine save, this time from Christian Maggio. This game has really livened up.

2120: Manchester United's Michael Carrick booked for foul on Pablo Aimar. He's now out of the next match against Basel. Shame that as the midfielder has had a good game.

2120: GOALFLASH Otelul Galati 1-3 FC Basel (Gabriel Giurgiu)

2120: Superb chance for Dimitar Berbatov at Old Trafford, but it goes begging. Fabio breaks down right and crosses for the striker but he can only volley over from 10 yards. There's a good chance that further chances will come, but that was a potential game-winner right there.

TomWarren93 on Twitter: "Personally think that Mancini has got his team all wrong tonight. Richards, Aguero, Nasri and Clichy would make a huge difference"

FreemanNoone on Twitter: " Why are Man City so poor in Europe? Is it the manager or the players?"

aprilbox on Twitter: "So Vidic doesn't Play & We Concede 2 Goals ... Coincidence ?"

2115: Manchester United have lost their rhythm at Old Trafford somewhat with more mistakes creeping in. Luckily for them, Benfica have been unable to capitalise, but the home side need to get a grip again if they are to find a winner. The frustrated voices are rising in number by the minute.

2114: Samir Nasri about to come on for Manchester City, but before this his side is forced to defend after Vincent Kompany gives the ball away. Ezequiel Lavezzi capitalises and runs in on goal but his shot is saved by Joe Hart. Nasri is now on for Nigel De Jong with City up against it.

2112: GOALFLASH Bayern Munich 3-1 Villarreal (Franck Ribery)

Text in your views on 81111 (UK)
From Ismael from Leeds, via text: "Can't remember Man Utd having such a struggle in the Champions League group stages"

CHAMPIONSHIP & FA CUP UPDATE: They've found their scoring boots in the second half in the Championship. Marvin Bartley draws Burnley level at Birmingham and Peter Whittingham gives Cardiff the lead at Coventry, only for Lukas Jutkiewicz to restore parity for the home side. The shock of the night is in the FA Cup where non-league Stourbridge go 2-0 up against Plymouth, I told you they could spring a surprise, didn't I? An Andy Frampton own goal sees Bournemouth equalise against Gillingham.

2110: GOALFLASH Real Madrid 6-0 Dinamo Zagreb (Karim Benzema)

2109: Interesting move from Benfica. The man regarded as their star player Nicolas Gaitan is replaced by Nemanja Matic. Gaitan set up the first goal as well, so coach Jorge Jesus must have a plan. Considering his near namesake maybe we should trust him.

CHAMPIONS LEAGUE UPDATE: City fans get a crumb of comfort, albeit very small, as Villarreal pull a goal back to put Bayern under pressure heading into the final half-hour. Rampant Madrid have again shot out of the blocks in the second half with a fifth, while the battle for Group D second spot between Lyon and Ajax remains goalless. Elsewhere, Inter Milan are only drawing at Trabzonspor - but it matters little as they clinched qualification with Lille's win in Moscow.

mattharding007 on Twitter: "That's the first mistake De Gea has made for months...!"

mohamedtoorani on Twitter: "I hope Arsene Wenger is watchin Cavani. He'd be amazing in 4-4-2 w/ RVP playing just behind and I hope most Gooners would agree!"

2105: Napoli's influential midfielder Gokhan Inler has picked up a back injury and is replaced by former Bolton Wanderers playmaker Blerim Dzemaili. City are showing little sign of drawing level for a second time at the moment.

Benfica goal: Just as United put themselves in the box seat, they are kicked out of it again as a result of their own negligence. Phil Jones passes ball back to David De Gea, but his poor clearance only reaches Bruno Cesar, who dribbles into the box and crosses. Despite Rio Ferdinand's attempt to clear the ball it drops to Pablo Aimar who smacks it home from close range.

2101: GOALFLASH Manchester United 2-2 Benfica (Pablo Aimar)

Manchester United goal: Things are going much better at Old Trafford now. Just seconds after Benfica make their change, Patrice Evra finds Darren Fletcher in the box with a great cross and he is able to finish at the second time of asking. United deservedly ahead.

2059: GOALFLASH Manchester United 2-1 Benfica (Darren Fletcher)

2059: Benfica are forced into a change as captain Luisao goes off injured to be replaced by Miguel Vitor.

2058: Things are going slightly better at Old Trafford where Manchester United are laying siege to the Benfica goal. Ashley Young has a shot blocked by Ezequiel Garay after a great cutback by Nani on the left, and then after being slipped through by Michael Carrick on the edge of the box, Fabio tries to chip in with only the Benfica keeper to beat, but Artur is equal to it.

WazzaQuinn on Twitter: "Carrick is probably having his best game for a while in a Utd shirt "

Napoli goal: Big blow for City early in the second half. Andrea Dossena gets in behind Pablo Zabaleta and pulls it back for Edinson Cavani to sidefooted in from 12 yards out. A lot of hard work undone. A lot of hard work now to be done.

2052: GOALFLASH Bayern Munich 2-1 Villarreal (Jonathan De Guzman)

2052: GOALFLASH Real Madrid 5-0 Dinamo Zagreb (Jose Maria Callejon)

2052: GOALFLASH Napoli 2-1 Manchester City (Edinson Cavani)

2052: Hats off again to the good folk at infostradalive, who have provided this: United fans may be comforted to hear that Basel, sitting just a point behind the Old Trafford side as it stands, blew the only other three-goal lead they have held in the Champions League. You may remember it - the Swiss went 3-0 ahead against Liverpool in November 2002 before the Reds hit back to draw 3-3.

2049: Before that though we got some chat from Manchester City first team coach David Platt, who said: "We have to keep hold off the ball and the chances will come, but we can't get sucked in and punished on the counter-attack. They are a dangerous team."

2049: And finally, we're under way again in Naples.

2048: United the first to threaten at Old Trafford. Nani takes the ball into the corner, slips, but still manages to cross to Ashley Young but his cross-come-shot is well wide. Promising stuff at the start of the second half.

2045: Benfica get us under way again at Old Trafford.

2045: We couldn't be more perfectly poised going in to these second halves. Momentum is with the two British sides. Here we go...

CHAMPIONSHIP & FA CUP HALF-TIME UPDATE: Birmingham still lead Burnley 1-0 at half time and it's 0-0 in the game between Coventry and Cardiff in the Championship. In the FA Cup, Gillingham are 1-0 up against rivals Bournemouth and Oxford City lead Redbridge by the same scoreline.

Atlanta Gunner on Twitter: "#BBCFootball. who says football is all about possesion?Napoli the best counter attacking team I have ever seen. Respect!"

2039: Looking at the replays for the United goal, there is a hint of offside about it. Berbatov appears to have strayed just past the last man before Nani's cross was delivered. Still, United won't care a jot.

CHAMPIONS LEAGUE HALF-TIME UPDATE: So United's leveller has eased the pressure a little, but Group C rivals Basel continue to breathe heavily down their necks. The Swiss side's 3-0 half-time lead at Galati keeps them hanging on to United's coattails. City have a tough task catching Group A leaders Bayern Munich, who are cruising into the last 16 with their advantage against Villarreal. And goal-crazy Real Madrid have set a new Champions League record by bagging four goals in the opening 20 minutes against Dinamo Zagreb.

Chris Lennox on Twitter: "I love it when Berbatov randomly wakes up half way through a football match #ChampionsLeague #BBCFootball"

JCoupe94 on Twitter: "#Benfica are tearing United's centre midfield apart, we need Sneijder"

Half time
Manchester United 1-1 Benfica
Alistair Magowan's HT snapshot:
"Manchester United have recovered from the shock of going behind, and are starting to get a grip in midfield. Nani has been the most dangerous player for them so far."

Half time
Napoli 1-1 Manchester City

Marc Higginson's HT snapshot:
"Mario Balotelli's goal shows City can never be written off. It's proving to be a tough night in Naples, but City's class could rise to the top."

2033: HALF-TIME Napoli 1-1 Manchester City

2032: Great chance for City in Naples. David Silva feeds in Aleksandar Kolorov on the right but the full-back's shot from 8 yards on the angle is saved by home keeper Morgan De Sanctis. After looking up against it early on, City's belief will be growing as a result of their response.

2030: HALF-TIME Manchester United 1-1 Benfica

2029: Dimitar Berbatov with another chance for United. Not as easy as his first though. His shot from the edge of the box is blocked by Ezequiel Garay. The striker is a definite presence in this match now.

2028: It is with good reason that David in Manchester wants that particular trio. They look class. But City have come back into the game somewhat since their goal, with James Milner typically proactive. They are a more regular presence in Napoli's half.

Text in your views on 81111 (UK)
From David in Manchester, via text: "Dear Sir Alex all i want for Christmas is Hamsik, Cavani and Lavezzi."

2025: So many goals! My digits haven't been this tired since that Fingermouse convention I went to. Not that I'm complaining. Champions League, I salute you.

2023: GOALFLASH Otelul Galati 0-3 FC Basel (Marco Streller)

2022: Old Trafford has come to life after Dimitar Berbatov's goal and Ashley Young could easily have made it 2-1 within a minute when clean through, but Artur makes a good save. Then quick as you like Pablo Aimar has an effort saved at the other end. Game on.

BBC Radio 5 live pundit Danny Mills on Man City goal: "That came out of nothing. Awful defending from Napoli. Balotelli won't get an easier goal - but City can consider themselves fortunate to be back on level terms."

Manchester City goal: Out of nowhere City are level. They've not really threatened but such is their class that in a flash they are level. Home defender Salvatore Aronica gives it away to David Silva whose shot is parried straight to Mario Balotelli, who taps in.

2019: GOALFLASH Napoli 1-1 Manchester City (Mario Balotelli)

CHAMPIONS LEAGUE UPDATE: Real Madrid may have already qualified but they are taking no mercy on poor Zagreb. Germany star Mesut Ozil has added another as Madrid race into the Champions League's fastest four-goal lead. Bayern Munich, needing only a point remember, have one foot in the last 16 as goal-machine Mario Gomez adds a second against Villarreal. Their seemingly-inevitable progress could be good news for City ahead of the final Group A clash between the pair next month. United's rivals Basel still lead 2-0.

RidhwaanAAziz on Twitter: "Man City looking out of depth again in Europe. Proves how tough this league is"

ChristyElsom on Twitter: " Told y'all Berbatov was the man, boom!"

CHAMPIONSHIP & FA CUP UPDATE: In the Championship, Birmingham go ahead against Burnley after just two minutes through a Jean Beausejour strike, while in the FA Cup, non-league Stourbridge can cause an upset against Plymouth as Paul Bignot is dismissed for the Pilgrims and Aldershot take the lead against Maidenhead United.

Manchester United goal: Yep, Berbatov has been completely anonymous, nowhere to be seen, invisible. So much so that Benfica don't pay any attention to him when Nani's cross from the left is headed into the net by the Bulgarian striker. That'll learn me: just watch the matches Phil, don't try to understand them.

2015: GOALFLASH Manchester United 1-1 Benfica (Dimitar Berbatov)

2014: A lot of huffing and puffing from United but with little end product. They've started to push forward with some degree of regularity but too often it is breaking down. Dimitar Berbatov is definitely playing but we've not seen much of him.

2012: We certainly will Ian Wright, Wright, Wright. A depressing fact for City fans to take stock of though is that Napoli have only conceded one goal at home in their last 11 hours of European football. Could be a long, frustrating night for the Premier League leaders.

Former England striker Ian Wright on Twitter: "Now we'll see what city are made of!"

2011: Better from Manchester United at Old Trafford, as Patrice Evra's pass across the edge of the penalty box finds Ashley Young, and his left-footed shot is well saved by Benfica keeper Artur. Still 1-0 to the visitors though.

2010: GOALFLASH Trabzonspor 1-1 Inter Milan (Halil Altintop)

2009: GOALFLASH Bayern Munich 2-0 Villarreal (Mario Gomez)

BBC Radio 5 live
BBC Radio 5 live pundit Danny Mills on the Napoli goal: "City have defensive frailties, I've said it all season, especially when you keep changing things around. They changed both fullbacks tonight and look poor at the back."

2007: GOALFLASH Real Madrid 4-0 Dinamo Zagreb (Mesut Ozil)

Napoli goal: It has been an open game in Naples and the home side take first advantage of that. A corner from the left is flicked in at the near post by the head of Edinson Cavani. It takes a deflection of Aleksandar Kolorov en route to the back of the net.

2004: GOALFLASH Trabzonspor 0-1 Inter Milan (Ricardo Alvarez)

2003: GOALFLASH Napoli 1-0 Manchester City (Edinson Cavani)

CHAMPIONS LEAGUE UPDATE: More bad news for United as Basel have taken a 2-0 lead at Galati to heap the pressure on the Old Trafford men. Elsewhere, the big guns have already fired their opening shots in a frantic start across Europe. And already-qualified Real Madrid are smoking hot. Jose Mourinho's Galacticos have raced into a 3-0 lead inside nine minutes against hapless Dinamo Zagreb, while Group A leaders Bayern Munich are well on their way to sealing qualification with Franck Ribery's early opener against Villarreal.

2002: Nani takes it upon himself to raise a frustrated Old Trafford crowd with a good run that sees him beat three players before being decked by Ezequiel Garay. The winger takes the free-kick himself but shoots it straight at keeper Artur.

2000: GOALFLASH Otelul Galati 0-2 FC Basel (Alexander Frei)

1959: It is very early days obviously, but I concur with the below Tweet. Every time I've seen United this season either without Rooney or with him playing in midfield they have lacked a true cutting edge up front. Berbatov is undoubtedly a quality player but he doesn't occupy defenders like Rooney.

mckaigue on Twitter: "Without @WayneRooney United have very little attacking spark"

1957: Not much of a response from Manchester United as yet. They appear a bit shell-shocked by Benfica's quick start. To be fair to the Portuguese side, they are working really hard to prevent Sir Alex's men get a foothold.

1955: GOALFLASH Otelul Galati 0-1 FC Basel (Fabian Frei)

1953: Phew, what an opening blitz. Well, now that I've got a chance to breathe I can bring you news of how it has started in Naples. It's been a fairly quiet start (apart from in the stands). Yaya Toure and Mario Balotelli have tried their luck, without success, and Marek Hamsik should have done better with a header straight at Joe Hart.

1954: GOALFLASH Real Madrid 3-0 Dinamo Zagreb (Gonzalo Higuain)

1951: GOALFLASH Real Madrid 2-0 Dinamo Zagreb (Jose Maria Callejon)

Benfica goal: Well, that's put the cat amongst the pigeons early on at Old Trafford. Nicolas Gaitan is put through on right and he cuts inside before crossing across goal only for Phil Jones to knock the ball into the net with an outstretched left leg. That wasn't in the script.

1948: GOALFLASH Manchester United 0-1 Benfica (Phil Jones own goal)

1948: GOALFLASH Bayern Munich 1-0 Villarreal (Franck Ribery)

1947: GOALFLASH Real Madrid 1-0 Dinamo Zagreb (Karim Benzema)

1946: And finally, Napoli kick off in the Stadio San Paolo. I'll be honest with you, it looks mental over there. The Napoli fans don't half love to make racket.

1945: United get us under way. Still messing about in Naples.

1944: Sir Alex blows his nose and we're just about ready to go at Old Trafford.

1943: The teams are on their way out in Manchester and Naples. For the millionth time this season a commentator refers to the "inspiring" Champions League anthem. If I was playing I'd prefer 'Holding Out For A Hero' by Bonnie Tyler.

1940: And as for City, if they can get a result in a genuinely intimidating environment like the Stadio San Paolo you have to start to believe that they could cause some serious damage in Europe as well as in the Premier League. I'm seeing a draw though.

1939: I'm genuinely intrigued by what we've got in store tonight. Ordinarily I would be backing Manchester United for a home win, but with Rooney missing you can't help but feel that has balanced it out a bit. Let's not forget, Benfica are no mugs.

Wintz on Twitter: "Mancini like Capello doesn't rate Richards defending skills hence him not playing in tough away matches. #BBCFootball"

Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson: "Wayne Rooney got a knock on his hip on Saturday, it was quite painful and he didn't have enough time to recover. These nights are the special ones, the crowd are lifted and are right behind the players, so hopefully we don't let them down. Benfica have some very talented players. I think they will have a go and so will we, so I think it will be an open game."

1933: Manchester boss Roberto Mancini has, of course, managed in his native Italy. As such, he has faced Napoli a few times before. Here's how he has got on: He has lost two of his four previous matches against Napoli as a manager. His only victory was Internazionale's 2-1 home Serie A win in October 2007. He lost both previous visits to Naples with Fiorentina and Inter. You can guess where that's from... yep, the good folk at infostradalive.

Text in your views on 81111 (UK)
From Alan in Manchester, via text: "Richards missing again in the champions league. Can't understand Mancini's thinking. Big attacking threat not even on the bench."

1930:Kind sirs and madams, if you could just do a little refresh on your screen a nice video box will appear with Midweek Final Score in it. You're welcome.

corey reece ellison on Twitter: "#BBCfootball got a feeling both Manchester clubs could struggle tonight, but see both getting the points to go through"

1923: To keep you abreast of the qualification situation in the other groups tonight, here are those top fellas at Infostradalive with a few more stats: In Group D, Real Madrid have already qualified for the knock-out phase. Ajax will qualify for the next round if they beat Lyon. They also qualify if the match finishes in a draw anything other than 0-0. In Group B, Inter are through to the next round after tonight's win by Lille.

Alistair Magowan reports:
"So the "couple of knocks" Wayne Rooney has been suffering from appear to be enough to keep him out of the Manchester United squad. Dimitar Berbatov makes his second European start of the season, and will be supported by the returning Ashley Young. For Benfica, 20-year-old Spaniard Rodrigo has scored five goals in his last four games and will be supported by Nicolas Gaitan and Pablo Aimar."

Marc Higginson reports: "There may be no room for Sergio Ageuro, but there is still plenty of firepower in the Manchester City team. A rested David Silva will supply the ammunition for Mario Balotelli and Edin Dzeko. Aleksandar Kolarov's experience of playing in Italy with Lazio sees him get the nod over Gael Clichy, with the no-nonsense Pablo Zabaleta coming in for Micah Richards. Napoli will rely on talented duo Ezequiel Lavezzi and Marek Hamsik to unlock the City defence for goal machine Edinson Cavani."

Wulfy on Twitter: "Phil Dawkes at #BBCFootball - Football Manager beats Championship Manager. Unless you mean pre-split. In which case, catch up!!"
I definitely do mean pre-split. It's too complicated for me now. I reached my limit when it started having more than a handful of team passing styles.

1915: McClaren on Rooney: "He's a major player but he's not available and Berbatov has a chance now. I've seen Benfica and they are weak at full-back so it'll be up to Berbatov and Young to get on the end of crosses."

1913: Former England boss Steve McClaren is currently chatting away on Sky from Old Trafford. It must have got a bit colder since I was last outside because he looks like he's about to go off and film Frozen Planet.

1912: The good folks at Infostradalive have come up trumps with information on the qualification picture in Group C. It is as follows: A win will see Manchester United through unless FC Basel beat Otelul Galati. A draw will be enough for United if Galati beat Basel.

All-but-qualified Bayern Munich, leaders of Manchester City's Group A, should seal their last 16 place when they host pointless Villarreal. Joe Cole's Lille clinched an elimination-saving 2-0 win at CSKA Moscow in Group B's early kick-off - which confirmed Inter Milan's passage before their game against Trabzonspor. A positive result for Basel at Galati will keep the pressure on Group C front-runners Manchester United and Benfica. In Group D, with Real Madrid already through, Lyon battle for second with Ajax.

1910: Napoli's main men are midfielder Marek Hamsik and striker Edinson Cavani, who scored the Italian's goal at Eastlands back in September. Benfica's chief threats are Paraguyan striker Oscar Cardozo and midfielder's Pablo Aimar and Nicolas Gaitan, the latter of whom European football expert Andy Brassell has done a very neat job of assessing.

1909: As a man whose managerial experience consists of a depressing amount of time committed to Championship Manager* I am far from qualified to distribute scouting assessments. However, I feel it's only right to point out a few of the dangermen from both Napoli and Benfica.
*Other relationship-wrecking football management games are available.

1906: Speaking of useful, Benfica aren't bad either. In fact, they are very tidy, as shown by the fact their lost column for this season has a big shiny, impressive 0 in it. So far, the Portuguese side are 20 games unbeaten, leaving them joint second in the domestic table and joint top of Champions League Group C with United on eight points.

Danny on Twitter: "The atmosphere tonight will be awesome & I think it will help Napoli to beat Man City. I expect Cavani to be on the score sheet"

Manchester United v Benfica line-ups
Manchester United:
De Gea, Fabio Da Silva, Jones, Ferdinand, Evra, Valencia, Carrick, Fletcher, Nani, Young, Berbatov. Subs: Lindegaard, Giggs, Smalling, Park, Hernandez, Rafael Da Silva, Gibson.
Benfica: Artur Moraes, Maxi Pereira, Luisao, Garay, Emerson, Witsel, Javi Garcia, Bruno Cesar, Aimar, Rodrigo Moreno, Gaitan. Subs: Eduardo, Amorim, Cardozo, Nolito, Nelson Oliveira, Matic, Miguel Vitor.
Referee: Cuneyt Cakir (Turkey)

Napoli v Manchester City line-ups
De Sanctis, Campagnaro, Cannavaro, Aronica, Maggio, Inler, Gargano, Dossena, Lavezzi, Hamsik, Cavani. Subs: Rosati, Grava, Mascara, Santana, Dzemaili, Fernandez, Pandev.
Manchester City: Hart, Zabaleta, Kompany, Lescott, Kolarov, Silva, De Jong, Toure Yaya, Milner, Balotelli, Dzeko. Subs: Pantilimon, Johnson, Savic, Aguero, Barry, Nasri, Clichy.
Referee: Damir Skomina (Slovenia)

1903: However, the Napoli players did have a bit of a scare today though when a fire broke out at their hotel. Thankfully nobody was harmed. I can also confirm that there has been absolutely no sighting of Mario Balotelli's mate hanging out of the bathroom window with a load of sparklers.

1902: Here, though, are the big stats to bear in mind: since returning to continental competition in 2008 after a 13 year absence, they are unbeaten at home in 10 matches and prior to Bayern Munich's goal in a 1-1 draw in October they had gone 573 minutes without conceding a European goal at the Stadio San Paolo. I'd call that useful.

1859: But what of the Manchester clubs' opponents tonight? Well, Napoli have hardly set Serie A alight this season and have won just one of their last seven matches in all competitions, but they remain the only team to leave Eastlands with anything more than a defeat courtesy of the 1-1 draw back in September. Nothing to sweat about right?

Shamoon Hafez reports: "A couple of Championship games tonight as struggling Burnley travel to St Andrews to face Birmingham. The Blues are yet to lose a league game at home this season. Relegation-threatened Coventry entertain Cardiff who are unbeaten in their last six league games. There are also nine FA Cup first round replays taking place, with non-league sides such as Hinckley United, Maidenhead United and Stourbridge looking to progress into the next round."

Alistair Magowan reports: "Manchester United can top Group C tonight if they beat Benfica at Old Trafford and Basel lose or draw against Otelul Galati. That scenario may be unlikely, but United will hope to retain their unbeaten home record against Portuguese opposition. Nemanja Vidic is still suspended so keeping a clean sheet as they have done in the last five games may be a tad more tricky."

Marc Higginson reports: "Roberto Mancini's assertion that Manchester City are as good as Barcelona and Real Madrid will be put to the test in Naples tonight. Back-to-back victories over Villarreal finally got their Champions League campaign off the ground, but this is the biggest test yet for the Premier League leaders. Victory will seal their progression to the next round and, more importantly, send out a signal to Europe's heavyweights that the men from Eastlands have the steel to match their swagger."

Anis Bazza on Twitter: "Big match for #mcfc, can't afford anything but a win because they know Bayern Munich will be ruthless #bbcfootball"

1852: MAN UTD TEAM NEWS SNAP - Wayne Rooney is not in the Manchester United squad. Dimitar Berbatov starts up front, ahead of a five-man midfield that includes Ashley Young.

David Sansun on Twitter: "Never mind the Manchester teams, it's all about Aldershot - Maidenhead in the FA Cup tonight. #ComeOnMaidenhead! #BBCFootball"

1852: It would be fair to say both United and City come into tonight's games with a bit of form behind them, both domestically and in Europe. City have won nine on the bounce, including home and away wins against Villarreal in this competition, while United have won their last five without conceding a goal and are unbeaten in the Champions League this season.

1849: MAN CITY TEAM NEWS SNAP - Manchester City have recalled David Silva to their starting line-up, but there is no Sergio Ageuro or Micah Richards in the starting line-up that shows four changes from the team that started on Saturday.

Matthew Curran on Twitter: "Looks like a lot of people are underestimating Napoli. They're a solid team with one of the best forward lines in the world. #bbcfootball"

1847: The Champions League may be the main dish on offer, but there are also plenty of side dishes to garnish the night's action. There are two Championship games, as Birmingham host Burnley and Coventry play Cardiff, and nine FA Cup first round replays. I'll endeavour to keep you up to date with these. You know, like one of those journalist fellas you hear about.

1845: Our main focus of course will be on the Manchester duo, but there are six other CL matches tonight. Here is the list in full:
Bayern Munich v Villarreal (Group A, 1945 GMT)
Napoli v Manchester City (Group A, 1945)
CSKA Moscow 0-2 Lille (Latest score) (Group B, 1700)
Trabzonspor v Inter Milan (Group B, 1945)
Manchester Utd v Benfica (Group C, 1945)
Otelul Galati v FC Basel (Group C, 1945)
Lyon v Ajax (Group D, 1945)
Real Madrid v Dinamo Zagreb (Group D, 1945)

Benedict Heaton on Twitter: "Bring on the Italians! City are going to advance guaranteed! Dzeko and Aguero to send us through. Blue Moon rising higher! #BBCFootball"

1842: Sky Sports News presenter Hayley McQueen has Tweeted that Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney did not arrive at Old Trafford on the team bus tonight. Rooney sat out training this week with "a couple of knocks" but was expected to play. As soon as I know anything I will let you know.

Matt Harding on Twitter: "Massive game for #mufc tonight. Must win if going to win the group but Benfica are a tough side. Top of Portuguese league. #bbcfootball"

Ryan Bridgman on Twitter: "Think City might have to settle for a draw in Naples tonight, tough place to win at #bbcfootball #CL #champions league"

1839: As always though, this isn't just about the teams doing stuff and me throwing an appraisal of that at your eyes, it's also about you getting involved via those wonderful toys at your disposal. You can Tweet the commentary via the hashtag #BBCFootball or text in on 81111 (UK).

1837: For clarity, City's guaranteed progression with a win is clear because it's down to them simply having enough of those good old points. United though will ensure a spot in the next round with a win because they will have a better head-to-head than Benfica, meaning the Portuguese side cannot overtake them even if they lose to Basel on the final matchday. Make sense?

1836: Yes, tomorrow may be London's turn, but tonight it is Manchester day in Europe's premier club competition, er, r kid. United welcome Benfica for a top-of-the-group clash, while City travel to Italy to face Napoli. Both English sides know that a win will guarantee them a place in the last 16.

1833: As if that wasn't enough I can actually see Old Trafford from the office window, all lit up and that. I can almost smell the tension, although that may well just be the BBC canteen ham.

1830: If this Champions League live text were a piece of rock (sweet, not sedimentary) it would have Manchester running right through the middle of it. Not only are City and United taking to the pitch, but we're live from the very place itself. Well, Salford technically but that's still Greater Manchester and taking a diversion away from my main point to explain all that potentially ruins my neat opening... Damn.

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Champions League results

22 Nov 2011 23:59 UK

  • Bayern Munich3-1Villarreal
  • CSKA Moscow0-2Lille
  • Lyon0-0Ajax
  • Man Utd2-2BenficaFT
  • Napoli2-1Man CityFT
  • Otelul Galati2-3FC Basel
  • Real Madrid6-2Dinamo Zagreb
  • Trabzonspor1-1Inter Milan

Champ Lge Group A table snapshot

As it stood on 22 Nov 2011 23:59 UK

Position Team P GD PTS
1 Bayern Munich 5 7 13
2 Napoli 5 2 8
3 Man City 5 1 7
4 Villarreal 5 -10 0

Champ Lge Group B table snapshot

As it stood on 22 Nov 2011 23:59 UK

Position Team P GD PTS
1 Inter Milan 5 2 10
2 Trabzonspor 5 -2 6
3 Lille 5 0 5
4 CSKA Moscow 5 0 5

Champ Lge Group C table snapshot

As it stood on 22 Nov 2011 23:59 UK

Position Team P GD PTS
1 Benfica 5 3 9
2 Man Utd 5 4 9
3 FC Basel 5 0 8
4 Otelul Galati 5 -7 0

Champ Lge Group D table snapshot

As it stood on 22 Nov 2011 23:59 UK

Position Team P GD PTS
1 Real Madrid 5 14 15
2 Ajax 5 3 8
3 Lyon 5 -4 5
4 Dinamo Zagreb 5 -13 0

Champ Lge Group E table snapshot

As it stood on 22 Nov 2011 23:59 UK

Position Team P GD PTS
1 Chelsea 4 7 8
2 Bayer Leverkusen 4 -1 6
3 Valencia 4 1 5
4 Genk 4 -7 2

Champ Lge Group F table snapshot

As it stood on 22 Nov 2011 23:59 UK

Position Team P GD PTS
1 Arsenal 4 2 8
2 Marseille 4 3 7
3 Borussia Dortmund 4 -4 4
4 Olympiakos 4 -1 3

Champ Lge Group G table snapshot

As it stood on 22 Nov 2011 23:59 UK

Position Team P GD PTS
1 Apoel Nicosia 4 2 8
2 Zenit St P'sbg 4 2 7
3 FC Porto 4 -2 4
4 Shakhtar Donetsk 4 -2 2

Champ Lge Group H table snapshot

As it stood on 22 Nov 2011 23:59 UK

Position Team P GD PTS
1 Barcelona 4 11 10
2 AC Milan 4 4 8
3 BATE Borisov 4 -7 2
4 Plzen 4 -8 1

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