Sports round-up – Champions League, Last 16, First Leg

English eyes have been focused on Arsenal’s bid to achieve their first ever win on Spanish soil. Having come back from the dead in the preceding group competition to qualify for this stage of the former European Cup, Arsene Wenger’s men had a somewhat ‘reborn’ look about them. Edu put the Gunners 1-0 ahead after 18 minutes, only for Edu to equalise nine minutes later – confused? This time the scorer was Celta Vigo’s very own Edu, Luis Edu.After the break, Arsenal’s Edu restored his team’s advantage, only to see Ignacio put Celta Vigo back on level terms with 25 minutes remaining on the clock. The old Arsenal would have settled for a draw at this point, but the reborn side were determined to make this a night to remember. After a neat interchange of passes, Pires buried the ball in the Spanish net to give Arsenal a favourite’s chance of progressing to the quarterfinals at Highbury on March 10.

In the other high-profile match of the night, Bayern Munich dominated a Real Madrid side that was only kept in the contest by the brilliance of goalkeeper Iker Casillas. Taking a deserved lead through top scorer Roy Makaay in the 75th minute, Bayern seemed to be cruising to victory, before goalkeeper Oliver Kahn let a speculative Roberto Carlos free-kick squirm under his body and into the net. With an away goal under their belt and a game-plan more suited to the likes of Beckham, Figo, Zidane, Ronaldo and Raul, Madrid look to be assured victory in the return encounter at home.

Results were completed by defending champions AC Milan’s goal-less draw away to Sparta Prague and Lokomotiv Moscow’s 2-1 home win over Monaco – Momentes’ late header giving the French champions a valuable away goal to take into the second leg.

Later, Chelsea handed coach Ranieri a lifeline, beating high-flying VfB Stuttgart 1-0 in Germany thanks to a Fernando Meira own goal. But the home team’s second-half onslaught, which left the Blues hanging on by the skin of their teeth, suggests that this tie is a long way from being over.

Elsewhere, Juventus were lucky to leave Coruna only a single goal down going into the second leg, and Lyon gained a deserved away win over Real Sociedad, despite the goal coming from the home side’s Gabriel Schurrer.


The week’s heavy football programme was completed by matches from the last 16 contenders in Europe’s other cup competition Liverpool secured a 2-0 advantage over Levski Sofia at Anfield, while Celtic went one better against Teplice, with two goals from Larsson and one from Sutton. Newcastle still have some work to do, but a 1-1 away draw against Valerenga puts them firmly in command of the second leg in two weeks time.

Portugal’s remaining hope, Benfica, should have had a hat full of goals in a one-sided game in Lisbon, but only managed to convert one chance against Rosenborg. A similar performance in Norway should see them into the quarterfinals. The sunny islanders of Mallorca, who returned from the Moscow chill with a 3-0 victory against Spartak, achieved the result of the night.


New Ice Borg

Following in the footsteps of Bjorn Borg (1977), Stefan Edberg (1985, ’87) and Magnus Larsson (2000), 21-year-old Joachim Johan-sson HAS became the fourth Swede to win the ATP Tournament in Memphis. This was the young Swede’s first title on the Tour and he is now ranked 49th in the world and occupies 9th place in the champion’s race. Remarkably, Johansson, who used to earn some pocket money as a ball boy at the event, never lost a single service game and dropped only one set throughout the competition. Swedish fans, starved of success in 2003, are now pinning their hopes on his imposing 1m 98, 89kg frame and maybe that of his girlfriend Jaslyn, sister to former World No.1 Lleyton Hewitt, who it is hoped will inspire him to achieve similar success to that of her brother.


Operation Manchester Police Information

“PORTO’S METROPOLITAN POLICE WISH TO ALL OF YOU A PLEASANT AND PEACEFUL STAYING. Please bear in mind the regulations/suggestions mentioned in this leaflet and for your own safety follow all instructions given by Oporto Metropolitan Police BEFORE, DURING and after de GAME. Emergency Number 112″

(Cover of pamphlet handed to arriving Manchester United supporters)

In total, 700 extra police were drafted in exclusively for the Champions League tie between Porto and Man Utd – officers on normal duty were put on stand-by, Lisbon elements of Rapid Intervention Units reinforced Porto colleagues and a GNR cavalry squadron provided back-up. A joint command centre, comprising PSP, GNR, maritime police, emergency services, firemen, the Home Guard and British Consular staff was set up. The local population was encouraged to report bad behaviour and the sale of alcohol to those appearing to be intoxicated was banned.

It would not surprise me if the 700 or so ‘Manchester United Portugal’ branch office fans were not infiltrated by special agents. Had England declared war? Was Porto under siege? Or did 3,000 English fans, vastly outnumbered by their 47,000 Portuguese counterparts, arrive in the city to watch a game of football?

In the end there was no trouble, at least not off the pitch. Any violence that was strictly confined to the sporting arena. Roy Keane was red-carded for stamping on Vitor Baía, as Benni McCarthy shot down Manchester United’s high hopes single-handedly. The traffic situation resembled that outside the Algarve’s stadium a week earlier. Perhaps law enforcement agencies should spend more time and thought on traffic logistics and the English language, rather than transforming a sporting highlight into a war zone?


FOOTBALL –Algarve U17 Tournament– The Portuguese team secured the title by defeating France 2-1 in the final game having previously beaten Finland 2-0 and sharing a goal-less draw with England, who finished second. Portugal’s Condesso was also voted best player of the tournament, although England’s Shane Paul took the top scorer award. The teams now look forward to the European Championship for their age group next month.

TENNIS –Love Match – Following the John Lloyd/Chris Evert tradition, women’s World No.2 Kim Clijsters will take on boyfriend Lleyton Hewitt on April 17 in Bree, Belgium. Tickets for the high-profile battle of the sexes were sold out within 45 minutes of going on sale.

ATHLETICS – Dwaine-Pays –The IAAF has banned leading British Olympic 100m gold medal hope, Dwaine Chambers, for two years after he was found guilty of taking the designer steroid THG. The 25-year-old reigning European champion, who denies ever knowingly taking drugs, plans to appeal in Lausanne, but in all likelihood his career is over. David Moorcroft, Chief Executive of UK Athletics, said the decision was painful, but the right one.


Last Week : Which American tennis player became the first man to complete the Grand Slam in 1938? Who was the only American to win the men’s singles at Wimbledon in the 1960s?

Answer: Don Budge, Chuck McKinley

This Week : Who was voted Most Valuable Player at last month’s Superbowl?

Answer next week.