A dramatic final day of the UEFA Champions League group stage transpired on Wednesday as five teams battled for two spots in the knockout stage. In the end, PSG and Porto did enough in their games to advance to the last 16. Also, Milan’s stunning comeback win against Newcastle ensures the Italian side will enter the Europa League knockout stage. Shakhtar Donetsk, the other team with a chance to reach the last 16, will join AC Milan in the Europa League playoff round. Newcastle, which was, at times, in the last 16 on Wednesday, is out of all European competition.

A raucous St. James’ Park was alive and well in the first half as Newcastle faced AC Milan. A sensational goal from Joelinton 33 minutes into the contest sent waves through the UEFA Champions League. That goal temporarily shot Newcastle into the knockout phase of the UEFA Champions League.

Yet, a second-half collapse shuttered Tyneside. At one time, Borussia Dortmund took the lead in Germany against PSG. That further secured Newcastle’s position at second in the group. However, just minutes apart, PSG equalized in Dortmund and Milan pulled level in England. Christian Pulisic’s goal in his return to the United Kingdom brought the nerves to the Magpies. Also, those two goals reverted the table to what it was at the beginning of the day. Still, a Newcastle goal would have been enough to go back to second.

Milan stuns Newcastle as PSG clings to draw and Champions League last 16

It was the other way around. Milan scored in the 84th minute via Samuel Chukwueze just a minute after he came on. That goal had ramifications in both games. For Milan, a win meant it would remain in European play. At the least, that would be in the Europa League. If PSG lost, Milan would enter the knockout stage. That said, PSG heard the news in England. A draw would be enough to reach the round of 16. PSG sat back and conceded several chances from Borussia Dortmund’s attack. Gianluigi Donnarumma and the PSG defense held tough to cling to second in the group.

PSG and Borussia Dortmund finished with a 1-1 draw while Milan won at Newcastle. Borussia Dortmund, which already secured a spot in the knockout stages, finished as group winners. PSG was fortunate to see Milan win, and the French side finished second in the group. Milan, with a win at Newcastle, advances to the Europa League playoff spot. Newcastle is out of all European competition despite positive results in the group stage.

Porto rounds out teams in the last 16

Porto comfortably defeated Shakhtar Donetsk on Wednesday to advance to the knockout round. With Barcelona having defeated Porto twice, the Portuguese side enters the last 16 as the runner-up. Brazilian winger Galeno scored a brace on the night to match his pair of goals in the road game against Shakhtar. Porto is through to the knockout stages for the third time in the last four seasons.

Shakhtar Donetsk took advantage of two controversial decisions to keep the game close, though. After Galeno’s opener in the first 10 minutes, Danylo Sakin capitalized after the referee raised his offside flag. Traditionally, that means the play stops, even if VAR would rule the player onside. Yet, the center referee waved the play on for advantage. Shakhtar bundled the ball in, and, despite rampant Porto protests, the goal stood. Fortunately for the hosts, Galeno responded with a brilliantly taken shot from just outside the box to restore Porto’s advantage.

Mehdi Taremi extended Porto’s lead, which would prove to be crucial after an own goal. Porto wanted a foul by a Shakhtar forward in the build-up, but no call came. The game was on edge with 20 minutes to go. Then, not long after, Pepe, the oldest goal-scorer in Champions League history, added Porto’s fourth. That goal locked up Porto’s spot in the last 16. Yet, there were two more goals in this game. Porto wound up with a win, 5-3.

Knockout stage draw next week

With 16 teams securing a spot in the knockout stage of the 2023/24 UEFA Champions League, clubs now turn their attention to who they would play in the two-legged ties. The draw is on the morning of Monday, Dec. 18. The knockout-stage ties do not start until mid-February.

Group winners cannot play other group winners. Likewise, teams from the same country cannot play one another.

Group WinnersGroup Runners-up
Bayern MunichCopenhagen
ArsenalPSV Eindhoven
Real MadridNapoli
Real SociedadInter Milan
Atletico MadridLazio
Manchester CityLeipzig
Borussia DortmundPSG