Copenhagen's Lukas Lerager is mobbed by teammates after his goal secured their progress into the knockout stages of the Champions League. Photograph: Ritzau Scanpix Denmark/Reuters
Danish champions qualify behind Bayern Munich in Group A
Napoli beat Braga, Real Sociedad top Group D after San Siro draw
Lukas Lerager scored a second-half goaland was sent off as FC Copenhagen reached the Champions League knockout stages for the first time in more than a decade with a 1-0 home win against Galatasaray on Tuesday that secured second spot in Group A.
Lerager’s goal illuminated a chilly night as the Danish side’s discipline and doggedness enabled them to progress from a group in which many experts expected them to finish bottom.
Instead, the Danish champions garnered eight points to end eight behind the group winners Bayern Munich, who beat Manchester United 1-0 at Old Trafford to leave the English side bottom on four points, one behind Galatasaray, who enter the Europa League playoffs.
“It shouldn’t be possible with the group we ended up in, I’m so damn proud,” the midfielder Rasmus Falk told the broadcaster Viaplay. “It was a fantastic performance and we’ve had some great games. It’s rare this happens to a Danish team, it’s huge.”
Napoli eased into the knockout stages with two first-half goals in a 2-0 home win against Sporting Braga. The Italian side finished second, eight points behind Real Madrid in Group C, on 10 points, while Braga held on to third place and Europa League football with four points.
“Passing the group was our goal, we deserved to qualify and that’s good,” the Napoli captain, Giovanni Di Lorenzo, said. “There is a lot of work to do, to improve in some aspects, but we are playing good games, with good performances and this gives us hope for the new year.”
Real Madrid’s Dani Ceballos scored an 89th-minute winner to secure a 3-2 victory at Union Berlin in their final group match, to make it six wins from six as the Germans ended their European run in last place.
Real Sociedad held Internazionale to a goalless draw to secure the top spot in Champions League Group D, with the visitors progressing to the knockout stages as leaders for the first time.
The La Liga side arrived unbeaten at San Siro and sure of a place in the last 16. They finished on 12 points, the same as Inter, who took second place on goal difference.