Champions League

news: Champions League

Group A

Liverpool only need one more win against either Monaco or Olympiakos from their remaining two games, after beating La Coruna 1-0 in Spain. Their first away win in that country for 21 years came by virtue of a Jorge Andrade own goal, after 14 minutes. The Portuguese international diverted an Arne Riise cross into his own net and compounded a bad night with a yellow card in the closing minutes which will force him to sit out the next round.

Olympiakos are level on points at the top of the group with Liverpool, after Schurrer scored the only goal in an uneventful encounter with Monaco in Athens.

Group B

Real Madrid continue to live on memories of former greatness, this time coming back from a two-goal deficit in Kiev to rescue a valuable point. Yussuf and the Latvian star, Vepakovskis, scored within 20 minutes for Dynamo and only Iker Casillas in the Madrid goal prevented worse. Still in the first half, Luis Figo then proceeded to switch on the turbo, first setting up Raul with a raking pass and then converting a penalty just before half-time to level the score at 2-2.

An ill-tempered match in Rome, which produced eight yellow cards, saw Bayer Leverkusen lead 1-0 thanks to an 82nd minute, Berbatov strike, until the Italians equalised at the death, in the fifth minute of injury time. The two results leave AS Roma bottom of the table on one point with Kiev, Madrid and Leverkusen all on seven.

Group C

Juventus ensured their place in the next phase with a fourth consecutive 1-0 victory this time in Bayern Munich’s Olympic Stadium. Buffon was in world-class form in the Italian goal, keeping out an almost unstoppable Roy Makaay effort, something which cannot be said of his German opposite number, Oliver Kahn. In the 90th minute, the volatile national keeper, spilt an Ibrahimovic shot invitingly for Del Piero to tap home with ease. The result could have spelt disaster for Bayern’s hopes of progressing, but Ajax Amsterdam contrived to lose 2-1 to Maccabi Tel Aviv in Israel. Two Barukh Dego goals earned the absolute outsiders their first points of the competition.

Group D

Ruud van Nistelrooy was the toast of Old Trafford, striking all four goals in Manchester United’s 4-1 annihilation of Sparta Prague. The Dutchman’s four-goal blitz not only equals the feats of Marco van Basten, Simone Inzaghi and Dado Prso in previous seasons, but also leaves him top of the scorer chart with seven. Van Nistelrooy has now been on target 44 times in 46 Champions League encounters, 35 in a Manchester United shirt. Lyon still lead the group and are through to the next stage, thanks to an unlikely 4-2 triumph over Fenerbahce. With the score poised at 2-2, the Turkish side had defender, Servet, dismissed after 76 minutes. Shortly before that incident, Lyon coach, Paul Le Guen, had made what proved to be a decisive substitution. The young Brazilian striker, Nilmar, was given a chance and promptly repaid the faith placed in him with two goals deep into injury time.

Group E

Had Arsenal played with the same urgency for the whole 90 minutes as they did during the last 15, after the unfortunate Cygan gifted Panathinaikos the equaliser, the English champions would have won by a cricket score. But they did not. Instead, they were happy to sit on a 16th minute Henry penalty, enjoying their superiority without building on their advantage. The Greeks had already spelt out a warning of what was to come when Papadopoulos was brought down unfairly in the area, by Ashley Cole. Basina’s over-confident strike, however, was wiped off his face on this occasion as he blasted the resulting penalty embarrassingly wide. A 1-1 at home, coupled with a 1-0 win by PSV Eindhoven over Rosenborg, does not serve the Gunners well. The group remains wide open and a win in Holland in three weeks time is now a must.

Group F

Celtic celebrated their first win of the current campaign, albeit against a Shakhtar Donetsk side that had skipper, Anatoliy Tymoschuk, sent off in the first half and defender, Barcauan, in the second half. Alan Thompson scored the Scottish champions’ winner after 25 minutes, but the resulting points are probably too little too late.

Barcelona beat AC Milan 2-1 to join the Italians on nine points, the pair six clear of the other two.

Group G

Werder Bremen thrashed Anderlecht 5-1, to put themselves in pole position on nine points to qualify for the next stage of the competition. Inter Milan still lead the group by one point after fighting out a dour goalless draw with Valencia at the Giuseppe Meazza Stadium.

Group H

Chelsea maintained their 100 per cent record, making it four out of four against CSKA in Moscow. The ‘other’ team, Roman Abramovich has a financial stake in, started well, but coach, Valeriy Gazzaev, could only shake his head in grudging admiration as Arjen Robben exchanged passes with Damian Duff before cutting a left-footed shot into the bottom right-hand corner of the Moscow goal. It was only surprising that the crowd were stunned by the superb strike from the ‘new’ talent. Robben has long been regarded as one of the stars of a new Dutch generation of players and had his pick of top European clubs, even before impressing in Portugal this summer. CSKA’s Brazilian forward, Vagner Love, missed a penalty and was later denied by Petr Cech, who has only conceded four goals in 16 matches this season. Overall, it was a slick Chelsea performance well worth the three points which guarantee the club a place in the knock-out phase. The win also kept Porto in the race for second place despite the Portuguese champions’ 0-0 draw against Paris Saint Germaine. Vitor Baia was largely responsible for preventing a fatal home defeat and Porto now need at least four points from their last two games against Moscow and Chelsea.

Hearts were felled by a late Lincoln strike as Schalke joined Feyenoord, who could only draw with Ferencvaros, at the top of Group A. Besiktas humbled Bilbao 3-1 to assume control of Group B and Dniepr made it two wins from two games in Group C to leave their rivals behind. A Bolo Zenden brace of goals were the highlight of a commanding Middlesbrough performance against Lazio. The 2-0 win should see Steve McLaren’s men through to the last 32. In the same group, Partizan Belgrade overwhelmed Aigaleo 4-0 to stay three points behind in second. In Group D, Patrick Kluivert inspired an easy Newcastle win over Dinamo Tiblisi, Alan Shearer and Craig Bellamy applying the finishing touches in front of goal. Sporting maintained their hopes in second with a 4-1 thrashing of Panionios. Rangers did not play, but Group F results favoured the Scottish team, while Seville find themselves in a similar position in Group H. Lastly, in Group G, Benfica stood little chance against a rampant Stuttgart side who remain on maximum points after a facile 3-0 victory. Zagreb eased into second place with a 6-1 slaughter of Beveren in their first game of this phase.

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