Bayern Munich were reduced to 10 men in their match against BATE Borisov, but that did not slow the German side. Meanwhile, titleholders Chelsea were knocked out in the final round of the Champions League Group Stage.
Bayern struck first in the 22nd minute Wednesday in Munich when Mario Gomez got on the end of a Xherdan Shaqiri cross. The young Swiss international beat his man on the left side of the box and sent a low cross across goal. Gomez was there to meet the ball with his outstretched right leg, making it 1-0.
It was the 25th career Champions League goal for Gomez, who was starting in the competition for the first time since last May's final.
Any worries of a second lackluster half were dashed when Jerome Boateng was shown a straight red card for a two-footed tackle in the 51st minute.
A man short but two goals up
But Bayern responded immediately, with Thomas Müller putting the hosts 2-0 up just three minutes later. Bastian Schweinsteiger flicked on a Toni Kroos free kick into the box, and Müller was there to volley home the goal with his right foot.
Müller was rewarded for his goal by immediately making way for Dante, restoring a second center back to the Bayern back line.
Shaqiri and Gomez traded roles in the 66th minute. This time Gomez was the provider, crossing a ball into the box that his Shaqiri was able to direct into the goal.
BATE were reduced to 10 men themselves in the 70th minute when Denis Polyakov was shown a second yellow, and the introduction of Franck Ribery two minutes later spelled the writing on the wall for the visiting Belarusians.
David Alaba extended the lead to 4-0 in the 83rd minute, controlling a Ribery corner and firing a left-footed shot past the keeper from the center of the box. A consolation goal from BATE in the 89th minute did little to change the outcome, and it finished 4-1.
The victory assured Bayern would finish atop Group F, just above Spanish side Valencia. The draw for the knockout stages, which begin next year, takes place December 20.
Titleholders go out
Chelsea put on an impressive display Wednesday in London, winning 6-1 against Danish side Nordsjaelland, including two goals from Fernando Torres.
But the big victory was not enough to send last year's Champions League winners into the knockout stage. Italian side Juventus beat Ukraine's Shakhtar Donetsk 1-0, meaning the two sides finished first and second respectively in Group E, and Chelsea finished third.
It was not the start new manager Rafael Benitez was hoping for at the London club. Chelsea becomes the first titleholders not to advance to the group stage. They are now relegated to the Europa League.
Müller's record stands
Fans hoping to see Barcelona's Lionel Messi break Gerd Müller's record of 85 goals in a calendar year were disappointed to see the Argentine among the substitutes against Benfica.
With 84 goals in 2012, Messi needed just one more to tie the prolific German striker, who set the record in 1972.
Messi made his introduction in the 58th minute, coming on for Rafinha. But it was not a night to celebrate for the Barcelona striker, who had to leave the match in the 87th minute after injuring his knee in a collision with Benfica goalkeeper Artur.
The match ended 0-0, meaning Barcelona finished atop group G with 13 points. A 2-1 win for Scottish side Celtic over Spartak Moscow of Russia was enough to see them finish second, and qualify for the knockout stage.
In Group H, English giants Manchester United finished winners with 12 points. Turkish side Galatasaray finished second with 10 points, just edging out CFR Cluj of Romania.
After Gladbach drew and Wolfsburg lost, there were some noticeable talking points to discuss from both Bundesliga sides' return to the European stage.
Wolfsburg failed to open their Europa League account, losing 4-1 on the opening matchday against Everton. Wolfsburg improved but only scored after the win was well out of reach.