BARCELONA, Real Madrid and AC Milan were last night joined by two more of Europe's footballing elite, Bayern Munich and Inter Milan, in the knockout stage of the game's biggest club competition.
Bayern, who will host the final at their Allianz Arena stadium next May, beat Villarreal 3-1 to guarantee top spot in their group, France winger Franck Ribery scoring two of the goals. Mario Gomez scored the other for four-time winners Bayern, who maintained their unbeaten record in the group.
"We are proud that we made sure of winning this tough group before the last round," Gomez said.
Inter, the 2010 champions, qualified before a ball was kicked in their match at Trabzonspor last night, courtesy of Lille's earlier 2-0 win at CSKA Moscow in Group B.
The Italians secured first place, however, by drawing 1-1 in Turkey.
Halil Altintop's equaliser for Trabzonspor denied Inter a fourth straight victory and kept the Turkish side's hopes of reaching the last 16 of the competition alive.
Trabzonspor only joined the tournament after domestic rivals Fenerbahce were removed under suspicion of match-fixing.
Ricardo Alvarez opened the scoring for Inter, who belied their poor form in Serie A by qualifying for the Champions League's group stages with a match to spare.
Real Madrid, meanwhile, thrashed Dinamo Zagreb 6-2 to keep their perfect record in Group D, while Ajax drew 0-0 at Lyon to virtually guarantee their progress.
Karim Benzema and Jose Callejon both scored twice with Mesut Ozil and Gonzalo Higuain also getting on the scoresheet as Jose Mourinho's side clinched their 12th straight win in all competitions.
However, goals from Fatos Beqiraj and substitute Ivan Tomecak meant Dinamo stopped Madrid from becoming the first club to reach the knockout stages without conceding a goal.
Ajax's draw in France leaves them three points ahead of Lyon and with a vastly superior goal difference.