Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Goncharenko pride tinged with regret

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FC BATE Borisov coach Viktor Goncharenko felt mixed emotions after the Belarussian side's 2-2 draw with Juventus in Group H – pride at having drawn with Italian giants and disappointment at not having held on for a surprise first victory in the competition after letting slip a two-goal lead. Juventus coach Claudio Ranieri was happy to escape with a point and praised his side for "reacting well" after BATE's early dominance.

Viktor Goncharenko, BATE coach
We should be proud of this team. Taking into account that this is the Champions League and given the level of our opponents we achieved a very good result. But when I was walking here [to the press conference] I felt some unpleasant emotions because we were two goals ahead and then only got a point. Everything is possible in football. We lacked some experience as we could have won tonight. We still have everything to fight for against Zenit, and then against Madrid. I want to thank the Belarussian media, television and local journalists because they did not pay us any attention before the match. That gave us added motivation. They spoke about the Dinamo Stadium, about Juventus, about their great players. We know now where Del Piero and Nedvěd were born, but what do we know about Rodionov, Stasevich and Khagush? Let's continue in the same way.

Claudio Ranieri, Juventus coach
The first half an hour was a nightmare for us. We knew BATE were a good team and they showed that from the beginning. They were faster and we could not play at their tempo. I consider the draw a good result as we were two goals behind. We expected BATE to press early. They have very good players, but I would also like to thank my players as they reacted well and looked to change the game right up until the final whistle. My decision to put Giovinco in central midfield in a 4-3-3 formation was not the best choice for this match as BATE focused on fast breaks. I was right to take Legrottaglie off as he was not sure he could continue. Both teams played very well and pushed for a win until the final whistle.

Arsenal response pleases Wenger

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Arsene Wenger was delighted that Arsenal put the disappointment of defeat by Hull behind them as they beat Porto 4-0 in the Champions League.

The Gunners boss said: "It is the response I wanted. Maybe it was our most complete performance this season.

"We could have scored a few more but most important was to win and respond in a convincing way.

"I didn't make many changes because sometimes you have to give a team a chance to respond quickly."

Wenger had promised sweeping changes after the 2-1 defeat by Hull on Saturday but in the end made only one, bringing in Samir Nasri for Emmanuel Eboue.

Wenger explained: "I didn't make many changes because I didn't want to give a feeling that you punish one player more than another.

"We were sometimes a bit tense, especially at the start, but this time we were focused. At this level in the Premier League or Champions League that is vital.

"That's what we expected. But the first half of the response was here and the second half is on Saturday (away against Sunderland)."

Wenger also praised the display of winger Theo Walcott, who showed he is starting to fulfil his potential with another lively performance.

"At 19 years of age you can't say he's close (to being the finished article)," said the Frenchman.

"I think there's a lot more to come but he has shown again tonight that he's making good progress."

BATE 2 - 2 Juventus

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Iaquinta spoils BATE celebrations



FC BATE Borisov's home debut in the UEFA Champions League provided the underdogs with a dream start against Juventus, but it was not to last as the visitors were level by half-time, a point leaving them second in Group H.

Incisive football
For the Belarussian team, the first from that country to compete at this level, there was the satisfaction of knowing they had played a full part in a wonderful, seesaw encounter. Their football was incisive and they had the Italian side floundering as Sergei Kryvets and Igor Stasevich provided a handsome advantage inside 23 minutes. But Vincenzo Iaquinta, standing in for the injured David Trezeguet, hit back with two goals before the interval.

Mounting unease
BATE wasted no time pouring forward and were encouraged by the ease with which they found their men in dangerous positions. Kryvets would not take long to show his striking prowess but first laid on a terrific pass for Vitali Rodionov who was only denied by Mauro Camoranesi's challenge. It triggered a rash of corners as the pressure mounted, Juve's unease compounded by a head injury which forced Nicola Legrottaglie off the field.

Cool Kryvets
Vitali Kazantsev let fly with a dipping shot from 25 metres which dropped narrowly over the bar and with pressure mounting the historic moment arrived as the visitors' defence was dissected with surprising ease. A pass from Stasevich was perfectly weighted to dovetail with Kryvets's forward run and with Giorgio Chiellini outpaced the BATE forward showed great composure, rounding Alexander Manninger before sliding in their first UEFA Champions League goal. Legrottaglie was substituted immediately, and Juve were soon badly exposed without his height as a routine ball to the far post cleared Pavel Nedvěd and found Stasevich, who directed it into the far corner.

Iaquinta responds
Juventus were rocked, but with BATE's confidence sky-high and their commitment to attack unwavering, spaces were available for the visitors to exploit if they could piece their game together. They reduced the deficit in the 29th minute when Sebastian Giovinco, fast becoming a strong influence on the game, launched a high ball and Iaquinta headed home. Juve continued to pursue the equaliser before the break and in added time Giovinco sent Iaquinta in the clear, the striker finishing clinically through the goalkeeper's legs.

Chances continue
It was the home team who started the second half on the front foot and Pavel Nekhaychik might have scored but lashed the ball wildly over the top. Then Aleksandr Volodko arrived to meet a cross from the left but his header just missed the target. It seemed unlikely to remain at 2-2; in the other penalty area Alessandro Del Piero got to a high ball before Veremko but could not keep his attempt down. Del Piero came close again late on as Juventus took a firmer grip on proceedings but BATE never relented in their own search for a winner and their first three points in Group H. In added time Manninger was forced to go full length to keep out a swirling shot.

Zenit 1 - 2 Real Madrid

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Madrid stand firm to pass Zenit test

Real Madrid CF took a firm grip on UEFA Champions League Group H as a Tomáš Hubočan own goal and Ruud van Nistelrooy's strike secured victory at FC Zenit St. Petersburg, who have it all to do after a second successive narrow defeat.

Frantic first half
Having succumbed 1-0 at Juventus a fortnight ago, the last thing Zenit needed was to fall behind to a Hubočan own goal after just four minutes. Record signing Danny levelled midway through the opening period, although parity lasted just six minutes as a typically opportunist strike from Van Nistelrooy restored the Spanish champions' lead. From then on it was all Zenit, but a combination of sterling goalkeeping from Iker Casillas, the woodwork and defensive numbers – typified by Pepe's added-time block from a stinging Danny drive – ensured it was Madrid who left with the spoils.

Spectacular welcome
The home supporters responded to their favourites' home debut in the UEFA Champions League by holding up thousands of black, white and blue plastic sheets with a huge banner showing men in black surrounded by stars, a symbol of the UEFA Cup holders' emergence among the high society of European football. However it all went quiet within four minutes as Madrid got the early goal they were seeking, Hubočan slicing Rafael van der Vaart's low cross into his own net with Van Nistelrooy lurking. The Zenit defender nearly repeated the error shortly afterwards when Arjen Robben slipped away down the left and crossed, Hubočan's clearance flashing dangerously close to the post.

Arshavin shines
To the relief of their fans Zenit began to find their feet, Andrei Arshavin almost nodding in a brilliant left-wing cross from Radek Šírl. When Arshavin volleyed from outside the area Casillas proved equal to it but an equaliser looked on the cards and so it proved in the 25th minute, Arshavin collecting Šírl's pass before delivering a deep cross which Danny flicked in ahead of Gabriel Heinze. It was a stylish way to register Zenit's first goal in the competition but the celebrations proved short-lived, Van der Vaart's deflected shot falling nicely for Van Nistelrooy to finish with aplomb.

Casillas to the rescue
Zenit twice threatened a second equaliser before half-time, Casillas intercepting Igor Denisov's dangerous low cross and then reacting quickly to clutch the ball after Hubočan's header had diverted off Denisov. Madrid did dominate the early exchanges in the second half, Robben unleashing a dangerous shot just too high, but that proved an isolated incident as the visitors were happy to sit back and soak up Zenit pressure while the hosts struggled to find any space to press.

Triple save
The exception came when Casillas reacted to Arshavin's cross-cum-shot, then dealt with Denisov's rebound and Šírl's powerful shot from the edge of the area. Another golden chance followed but Konstantin Zyryanov failed to direct his header. Dick Advocaat's men were cursing their luck again when substitutes Alejandro Dominguez and Fatih Tekke dazzled Madrid's defence with a fine one-touch combination to set up Arshavin for a shot that rattled the post, summing up Zenit's night

Fenerbahçe 0 - 0 Dynamo Kyiv

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Fenerbahçe denied by determined Dynamo


Fenerbahçe SK's run of eight consecutive European home wins is over after an efficient performance from FC Dynamo Kyiv earned the Ukrainian side a second successive UEFA Champions League Group G draw.

Visitors hold out
Five victories at the Sükrü Saraçoglu Stadium in the competition proper last season helped the Istanbul outfit to the quarter-finals but they were given few sights of goal by a Dynamo side who held Arsenal FC on Matchday 1. Having already lost at FC Porto, Fenerbahçe will now seek to revive their chances in the forthcoming double-header against Arsenal while Dynamo will go into their meeting with the Portuguese champions in high spirits.

Efficient Dynamo
Brazilian defender Edu found his way back into the Fenerbahçe starting XI after recovering from a fractured metatarsal along with Turkish international goalkeeper Volkan Demirel, who has just served a two-game domestic suspension. Boosted by their returning stars the home side had the bulk of the early possession but it was Dynamo who were proving more efficient with the ball, carving out the superior openings. Miloš Ninković was proving particularly elusive on the Dynamo left, his crosses causing real concern in the Fenerbahçe back line. In the 12th minute one such centre fell to Olexandr Aliyev yet instead of shooting he opted to set up Ismaël Bangoura and the opportunity was lost.

Tactical reshuffle
Home coach Luis Aragonés, in the absence of Daniel Güiza's usual strike partner Semih Şentürk through an ankle injury, had pushed winger Kazım Kazım forward to support the Spain striker but Dynamo were wise to that tactic and kept the London-born Turkish international heavily marked. Captain Alex was dropping back from his advanced playmaker role to create from deep but Dynamo were resisting with comfort and more danger was coming from Bangoura's incisive raids behind the Fenerbahçe defence.

Home chances
Having struggled to create chances prior to half-time, Fenerbahçe conjured up several within five minutes of the restart as Alex shot wide and then both Güiza and Emre Belözoğlu were denied by saves from Stanislav Bogush. Roberto Carlos had a shot blocked just past the hour and Dynamo pounced, launching a strong counterattack that ended with Aliyev firing his effort off target.

Late efforts
Dynamo were now happy to sit back and let last season's quarter-finalists come at them, but almost paid when Selçuk Şahin broke through. Bogush came to their rescue, and Güiza also had an effort blocked by the advancing goalkeeper. The visitors were still breaking with menace but from the best of those forays Maksim Shatskikh, on for Bangoura, could not hit the target. Kazım Kazım drove an effort wide in the last minute but Dynamo had held out.

Bayern 1 - 1 Lyon

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Battling Bayern peg back Lyon


FC Bayern München and Olympique Lyonnais maintained their unbeaten starts to UEFA Champions League Group F after the Bundesliga title-holders came from behind to earn a point against their French counterparts.

Breathless game
In a breathless game that flowed as freely as the beer at Oktoberfest, the visitors took the lead midway through the first period as Bayern midfielder Martín Dimichelis inadvertently flicked Juninho Pernambucano's long-range free-kick into his own net. Bayern responded seven minutes into the second period, Zé Roberto powering in a header to secure a point which keeps his side top of the section ahead of home-and-away games against ACF Fiorentina.

Instinctive save
Lyon had stated their intention to bring a positive result back from Bavaria, and made a start almost as bright as their fluorescent green strip. An injury doubt prior to kick-off, Juninho showed exactly why Claude Puel was willing to wait before making a late decision over his fitness as he inspired the visitors. The Brazilian's set-piece prowess is well-documented, but Bayern failed to read an eleventh-minute free-kick from which Fred's header brought an instinctive save from Michael Rensing.

Ribéry verve
Bayern also had their muse back in Franck Ribéry and, despite having only played 70 minutes this season, the Frenchman's verve was evident. A deep free-kick created an early opening for Luca Toni but the Italian failed to keep his header down, while Ribéry's understanding with Philipp Lahm down the left led to both testing goalkeeper Hugo Lloris. Bayern, though, failed to heed the warning signs, and paid dearly 25 minutes in. Another set-piece just inside their half gave Juninho the chance to fire goalwards and on the edge of the area Demichelis ducked too late, the ball flicking off his head and finding the bottom corner with Rensing rooted to the spot. Toni almost replied instantly, Lloris turning his low drive aside, before the Bayern striker muscled his way in front of Anthony Réveillère to meet Massimo Oddo's searching cross, only to head narrowly wide.

Renewed vigour
Bayern emerged after half-time with renewed vigour, and but for an excellent Lloris stop Toni would have brought them level after Ribéry's delightfully-weighted pass. The impatient home fans did not have to wait long for their side's enterprise to be rewarded, Miroslav Klose breaking down the right and picking out the unmarked Zé Roberto who headed beyond Lloris before he and his team-mates engulfed Jürgen Klinsmann. Bayern's defensive problems are the coach's main headache, however, and 18-year-old Brazilian centre-back Breno, who made his full league debut for the club on Saturday, was conspicuous by his absence as a lunging Karim Benzema came within centimetres of restoring Lyon's lead.

Late chances
In the closing stages, Lucio could have grabbed victory for Bayern but narrowly failed to get a touch on a Bastian Schweinsteiger free-kick. At the other end, Benzema might have swung it Lyon's way as he again broke free in the closing stages and touched the ball round the advancing Rensing only for Breno to clear the danger and ensure each side left with a point.

Fiorentina 0 - Steaua 0

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Solid Steaua frustrate Fiorentina


ACF Fiorentina huffed and puffed but were made to settle for a 0-0 draw with FC Steaua Bucureşti at their Artemio Franchi Stadium in Group F on Tuesday. Neither side were able to produce flowing football in a game which left the hosts with two points on the board after Matchday 2, while Steaua earned their first point following an opening loss.

Mutu opening
Fiorentina, who had squandered a two-goal lead in their 2-2 draw at Olympique Lyonnais on Matchday 1, made the early running and carved out a chance for Adrian Mutu after ten minutes. Mario Alberto Santana sent a superb long ball forward that split Steaua's defence but Mutu, who has been struggling with form recently, could only balloon his shot over the bar with goalkeeper Robinson Zapata at his mercy. Strike partner Alberto Gilardino fared no better soon after when his close-range effort was blocked.

Returning Rădoi
Steaua, with captain Mirel Rădoi back from injury and midfielder Bănel Nicoliţă returning from suspension, looked in only slightly better shape than the side who lost 1-0 at home to FC Bayern München two weeks ago. They were continuing to live dangerously at the back, despite Rădoi's return, and their game plan was always going to be to hit Fiorentina on the break. That threat became real when António Semedo somehow got between three Fiorentina defenders to latch on to an upfield pass and drill a low shot just wide. However, the momentum stayed largely with the hosts, despite the lack of space in a congested final third, with Mutu producing a fine swivel and shot in the 33rd minute. Semedo replied with a fierce drive into the side-netting for a Steaua side who grew in confidence as the half progressed but who failed to deliver a killer pass in the penalty area.

Frustrating night
Fiorentina kept up the pressure after the break but the Viola's passing was fairly approximate at times and there were no clear-cut chances for either Mutu or Gilardino. Felipe Melo fired a hit-and-hope effort well wide of Zapata's goal on the hour, an effort that seemed to sum up what was turning into a frustrating night for Cesare Prandelli's side. Unable to get into their rhythm, Fiorentina's main attacking threat was coming from dead-ball situations, typified by a wickedly curling free-kick sent in by Mutu in the 67th minute which flashed against the left-hand post.

Little threat
The visitors posed little threat going forward and in the closing stages were clearly looking to grind out a result, Italian style. Steaua coach Marius Lăcătuş, who played for the Viola during the 1990/91 season, was able to draw on some first-hand experience. A rare foray into the Fiorentina penalty area nearly brought his side a shock winner in the 78th minute when Semedo got in a close-range shot which goalkeeper Sébastien Frey blocked with his left boot. However, the final minutes were mainly for Fiorentina, with the home crowd firmly behind them but unable to lift Prandelli's men to what would have been a precious win before their trip to Bayern on Matchday 3, when Steaua entertain Lyon.

Man Utd dealt Scholes injury blow

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Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson fears Paul Scholes could be out for up to eight weeks with suspected medial knee ligament damage.

The 33-year-old midfielder limped off after just 16 minutes of United's 3-0 Champions League win over Aalborg.

"It's difficult to say how serious it is but it looks like the medial ligament, in which case it will be six to eight weeks," said Ferguson.

Striker Wayne Rooney and full-back Rafael were also forced off injured.

Rooney was replaced by Carlos Tevez just before the hour mark as a precaution after injuring his ankle and Ferguson was unsure as to the seriousness of the injury.

"We are hoping it isn't ligament trouble," added the Scot.

"He just felt his ankle. I would imagine he would be doubtful for the Blackburn game on Saturday."

The loss of Scholes adds to United's worries in midfield as Michael Carrick is out for at least another month.

The England midfielder was ruled out for six weeks after breaking a bone in his foot in the 2-1 defeat at Liverpool on 13 September.

There were some plus points for United, notably from Dimitar Berbatov who opened his account for the club with two second-half goals on his Champions League debut.

The Bulgarian striker had failed to find the net in his first three games in a United shirt after a £30.75m summer switch from Tottenham and Ferguson was delighted with his contribution against Aalborg.

"He got two fantastic goals. That will help his confidence," he said.

"When you transfer for that amount of money you want to score your first goal quickly and he has got that now."

Berbatov added: "I knew it would come sooner of later, but of course the team winning was the most important thing and it was just another goal."

Villarreal 1-0 Celtic

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A Marcos Senna free-kick was enough to consign Celtic to another away Champions League defeat, denting the Scottish side's last 16 hopes.

Villarreal posed the greater danger early on in the match, with Artur Boruc saving from Giuseppe Rossi.

Georgios Samaras spurned a wonderful opportunity to give Celtic the lead just before half-time.

And despite some dogged defending, Senna eventually beat Boruc with a curled free-kick on 67 minutes.

Celtic needed to take something from their second group E match, after a disappointing draw at home to Aalborg in match day one.

And despite a more mature away performance than those of recent seasons, the statistics make bleak reading with only one point from a possible 48 on their travels.

Worse still, Celtic now lie on one point alongside Aalborg, three points behind both Manchester United and Villarreal.

The Scottish champions made a confident start, but Villarreal fashioned the first effort on goal two minutes in, from Joseba Llorente after some neat build-up play.

Shaun Maloney and Aiden McGeady, recalled to the staring line-up, were providing outlets on the flanks for the Glasgow side to counter-attack at pace.

But, they found passing options limited with Samaras alone up front, even though the Greek again demonstrated the same energy and pace of recent weeks.

With 10 minutes on the clock Maloney tried his luck from a free-kick, but the former Aston Villa man was never going to trouble Diego Lopez from around 35 yards.

Moments later the Spaniards gave Celtic a wake-up call when Sebastian Eguren found space in the box but headed wide.

Celtic were playing well on the break, while the hosts looked dangerous whenever the triumvirate of Rossi, Santi Cazorla and Robert Pires got on the ball.

However, for all the intricate football from the Spaniards, it was a long ball over the top on 20 minutes that presented them with their clearest chance to open the scoring.

The Celtic defence was caught out by Eguren's punt up-field, Rossi strode on to the ball, but Boruc raced out to save at the Italian's feet, and Llorente scooped the rebound over.

Soon after Llorente made Boruc save from a header, before McGeady had Lopez worried with a 25 yard shot that flew a yard wide.

Gordon Strachan's men had spells of possession, but Boruc was called into action again to tip over Rossi's powerful shot from Cazorla's cut-back towards the penalty spot.
Samaras passed up the chance to give Celtic a first-half lead

Samaras had the perfect chance to give Celtic a half-time lead after Diego Godin made a hash of a long ball, but Lopez blocked the Greek's shot with his arm.

The second period began at a ferocious pace, and the match took on a real end-to-end feel.

Rossi shot inches wide of the Boruc's left post, while Samaras failed to connect with Mark Wilson's cross by the same margin.

As the half wore on McManus, Caldwell and Paul Hartley were at the heart of some solid Celtic defending, but Villarreal were tightening their grip on the game.

Marcos Senna forced Boruc to save a wicked swerving effort, as the Scottish side became pegged back in their own half.

And the Spanish international's persistence paid dividends on 67 minutes, when he curled a free-kick over the wall and inside Boruc's right-hand post for 1-0.

Scott McDonald was introduced for Maloney and nearly drew Celtic level with fierce, dipping volley which landed on the roof of the net.

Barry Robson and Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink replaced Shunsuke Nakamura and Hartley as Celtic tried in vain to get back in to the game, but the Spaniards greeted the final whistle as worthy winners.

Villarreal: Diego Lopez, Angel, Rodriguez, Godin, Capdevila, Santi Cazorla (Cani 90), Senna, Eguren, Pires (Bruno 83), Llorente, Rossi (Ibagaza 77).
Subs Not Used: Viera, Edmilson, Javi Venta, Fuentes.

Goals: Senna 67.

Celtic: Boruc, Wilson, Caldwell, McManus, Naylor, Nakamura (Robson 74), Scott Brown, Maloney (McDonald 72), Hartley (Vennegoor of Hesselink 82), McGeady, Samaras.
Subs Not Used: Mark Brown, Crosas, Loovens, Caddis.

Booked: Robson, Scott Brown.

Att: 25,000

Ref: Viktor Kassai (Hungary).

Match day 2 - Pictures

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AaB Aalborg 0-3 Man Utd




United lose Paul Scholes to a knee injury after 15 minutes



United take the lead as Scholes's replacement Ryan Giggs sends a sublime pass to Wayne Rooney who calmly slots home




Dimitar Berbatov takes advantage of poor AaB defending



Berbatov scores his second of the night with a perfectly-timed volley in the 79th minute


Arsenal 4-0 FC Porto




Robin van Persie slides home Emmanuel Adebayor's low cross



Arsenal's lead is doubled five minutes from half-time as Adebayor's downward header



Sloppy Porto defending allows Van Persie space to stroke home his second



Adebayor slots home from the spot in the 71st minute after a foul on Nicklas Bendtner


Villarreal 1-0 Celtic



Villarreal skipper Marcos Senna bends home a free-kick

AaB Aalborg 0-3 Man Utd

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Dimitar Berbatov got off the mark with a double strike as Manchester United cruised to Champions League victory against Aalborg in Denmark.

Wayne Rooney slid home a pass from Ryan Giggs - on for Paul Scholes after he was stretchered off with a knee injury - to open the scoring after 22 minutes.

Berbatov opened his goal account when he took advantage of a defensive mix-up to score 10 minutes after half-time.

He then volleyed in Cristiano Ronaldo's cross for his second after 79 minutes.

United outclassed Bruce Rioch's minnows, but injuries to Scholes and Rooney cast a shadow over the win, which leaves them with four points from their first two group games.

Scholes was left on crutches, while Rooney limped off in some discomfort just before the hour mark.

United boss Sir Alex Ferguson kept faith with Berbatov, despite a lacklustre start to his Old Trafford career, but he made an undistinguished start with a dreadful miss after five minutes.

Aalborg keeper Karim Zaza's clearance ricocheted off Ronaldo straight to Berbatov, but he shot wide of an open goal.

Zaza then had to block a drive from Rio Ferdinand after Nemanja Vidic flicked on Nani's corner.

United suffered a blow after 16 minutes when Scholes was stretchered off with a knee injury following a challenge by Thomas Augustinussen.

Giggs came on and demonstrated his enduring quality six minutes later with a perfect through ball into Rooney's path and he slipped home a simple finish.

Rafael had looked promising at right-back, and he almost showed his goal-scoring talent with a fine left-foot shot that was turned over by Zaza.

United needed to kill the game off, and they did so when Berbatov was gifted his first goal following his £30m move from Spurs in the 55th minute.

Augustinussen's dreadful control presented Berbatov with possession on the edge of the area, and he wasted no time in hammering an emphatic finish past Zaza.

There was another concern for United after 58 minutes when Rooney pulled up injured and limped off to be replaced by Carlos Tevez.

Tevez had the ball in the net almost immediately, but referee Olegario Benquerenca ruled out the effort for handball.

United were now carving out a succession of chances, with Ronaldo failing to take advantage of good work by Tevez and the Argentine shooting wide after cutting in from the left.

Berbatov got his second with 11 minutes left, showing great technique to hook home Ronaldo's right-wing cross.

The Bulgarian almost repaid the compliment with six minutes left when he set Ronaldo racing clear with a glorious pass, but he was unable to provide the final flourish to a comfortable win.

A job well done by United - but at what cost in terms of injuries remained to be seen as the players prepared to fly back to Manchester.

AaB: Zaza, Bogelund, Olfers, Beauchamp (Caca 38), Pedersen, Augustinussen, Risgaard, Curth, Johansson, Enevoldsen, Saganowski.
Subs Not Used: Stenild, Due, Braemer, Sorensen, Kristensen, Ronnie Schwartz Nielsen.

Booked: Johansson, Zaza.

Man Utd: Van der Sar, Rafael Da Silva (Brown 66), Ferdinand, Vidic, Evra, Ronaldo, Scholes (Giggs 16), O'Shea, Nani, Berbatov, Rooney (Tevez 59).
Subs Not Used: Amos, Anderson, Park, Evans.

Booked: Rafael Da Silva.

Goals: Rooney 22, Berbatov 55, 79.

Att: 10,346

Ref: Olegario Benquerenca (Portugal).

Arsenal 4-0 FC Porto

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Arsenal comfortably overcame Porto to get their home campaign in Champions League Group G off to a perfect start.

Cristian Rodriguez's header hit the bar and Lisandro's shot was cleared off the line as Arsenal were lucky early on.

But Robin van Persie slid in to convert Emmanuel Adebayor's cross to open the scoring and the Dutchman's corner was headed in by Adebayor to make it 2-0.

Van Persie toe-poked his second on 48 minutes before Adebayor's penalty after a foul on Nicklas Bendtner sealed it.

Arsenal could even afford to miss a host of chances - unlike at the weekend in a shock defeat by Hull - as they cantered to a vital three points.

Following that loss at the weekend, manager Arsene Wenger had vowed to ring the changes but instead he made only one, bringing in Samir Nasri for Emmanuel Eboue.

However, it was soon evident that while the Gunners' personnel was virtually unchanged, their attitude from the weekend could not have been more different.

On eight minutes Nasri nudged the ball out to Theo Walcott, whose shot from a tight angle was beaten away at the near post.

That was an indication of what was to come from the England winger, who gave a performance of pace, trickery and confidence.

And in midfield, Cesc Fabregas was afforded space and time to pick his passes - and Van Persie almost opened the scoring from one threaded ball from the Spaniard but his curling shot was well saved.

Yet if all was working smoothly in attack, Porto soon exposed Arsenal at the back and Rodriguez's downward diving header bounced up onto the top of the bar.

Soon after, the visitors came even closer to taking the lead when Arsenal failed to clear a corner and Lisandro's shot from six yards was scrambled off the line by Gael Clichy.

Fortunately for Arsenal, Van Persie soothed any home nerves when he struck on 31 minutes following a superb Fabregas pass that picked out Adebayor to supply a cross that made it easy for the Dutchman.

Ten minutes later, Arsenal doubled their lead when Van Persie turned provider, planting a corner on to the head of Adebayor, who headed the ball down and in off the underside of the bar.

Soon after the restart Porto threw away any hopes they had of clawing their way back into the game when a defensive mix-up handed Van Persie the chance to clinically finish from just inside the box.

After that it was all Arsenal and a question of how many goals they would score - or how many opportunities they would miss.

Walcott was first up to scuff from six yards - which provoked a smile from watching England boss Fabio Capello - and then Nasri did the same.

Fabregas then saw a shot spilled and Adebyaor could not convert the follow-up.

But Arsenal were to get a fourth when Bendtner was felled in the area and Adebayor confidently stroked home the spot-kick.

The giant striker should have had a hat-trick but scuffed a shot wide late on, but by then it was all academic.

Arsenal: Almunia, Sagna, Toure, Gallas, Clichy, Walcott (Vela 71), Fabregas, Denilson, Nasri (Eboue 64), Van Persie (Bendtner 64), Adebayor.
Subs Not Used: Fabianski, Ramsey, Silvestre, Djourou.

Booked: Clichy.

Goals: Van Persie 31, Adebayor 40, Van Persie 48, Adebayor 71 pen.

FC Porto: Helton, Sapunaru, Bruno Alves, Rolando, Benitez, Guarin, Costa, Fernando (Lucho Gonzalez 46), Raul Meireles (Hulk 64), Rodriguez (Candeias 79), Lopez.
Subs Not Used: Nuno, Pedro Emanuel, Stepanov, Lino.

Booked: Costa.

Att: 59,623

Ref: Herbert Fandel (Germany).

Shakhtar v Barcelona

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Shakhtar v Barcelona



20:45 CET - Wednesday, October 1, 2008
Olympiyskiy Stadium, Donetsk


Barcelona may face a very tricky test when they travel to the Ukraine to meet Shakhtar, but they will see it as a very welcome distraction from the problems back at home.

In winning the local derby at the weekend, the Blaugrana recorded their fourth consecutive win to put any talk of a crisis well and truly behind them after picking up only one point from their first two la Primera encounters.

But it was in the game at Espanyol that the major talking points of the week happened and they have overshadowed the build-up to the Catalan club's second Champions League game of the season.

A handful of people in the away end at Montjuïc carried out a pre-meditated to disrupt the game by throwing flares and accusations have since gone backwards and forwards.

The home club said that they infuriated with the reaction of the Barça players to each of their two goals after the break in play as police and security looked to restore clam within the stadium.

Barça refuted the allegations as well as being forced to distance themselves from the groups that were reported to have been at the centre of the unsavoury incidents.

While Espanyol have withdrawn the idea of complaining officially about five Barça players all the questions in press conferences and interviews have included reference to the game which has seen the game in midweek take second place.

Ribéry relishes rising expectations

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Franck Ribéry admits he is thriving on the growing sense of expectation surrounding his possible inclusion in the FC Bayern München side to face Olympique Lyonnais in Group F tonight.

'I feel good'
The winger, who missed Bayern's 1-0 win at FC Steaua Bucureşti two weeks ago, has made just two substitute appearances this season since recovering from a serious ankle injury sustained with France at UEFA EURO 2008™. With Bayern having made a faltering start to their Bundesliga title defence, and with the French champions arriving in Bavaria, the clamour for Ribéry's return has been deafening. "I try not to worry too much about that, but I'm happy people are expecting a lot from me. That means I must be doing something right on the pitch," said Ribéry, who emerged from the bench at half-time of Saturday's 1-0 defeat at Hannover 96. "But I've only played a handful of minutes against [1. FC] Nürnberg [in the German Cup] and a half in Hannover – that's not much. I feel good though and want to get back to the sort of form I was in last season."

'Not catastrophic'
Named the Bundesliga's best player in his maiden campaign, Ribéry was both key to the club's seventh league and cup double, and the inspiration behind their run to the UEFA Cup semi-finals under Ottmar Hitzfeld. Klinsmann's arrival this summer saw a number of changes initiated, with Ribéry backing the new coach's methods to come good. "The coach has come in and changed a lot of things since the end of last season. It's difficult at the moment, but it's not a catastrophe," said the 25-year-old. "When you play at Bayern, you are always under pressure to win. We haven't been able to do that in our last two league matches, but we have to forget about that and concentrate on beating Lyon." The Hannover reverse followed a 5-2 home thrashing by Werder Bremen.

Perfect tonic
The sight of the former Olympique de Marseille player on the pitch against his compatriots would be the perfect tonic for Klinsmann, and a major concern for Lyon who rescued a point in a 2-2 Matchday 1 draw against ACF Fiorentina having gone two goals behind. With Luca Toni, Miroslav Klose, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Ribéry to contend with, Lyon's Mathieu Bodmer is fully aware of Bayern's threat. "Their strengths are going forward – there's lots of movement, Ribéry is coming back, and their strikers are all internationals," said Bodmer, who has been converted from silky midfielder to stoic central defender. "But we've seen recently that they concede goals. We mustn't concede ourselves and hopefully our forwards can do something at the other end. The most important thing is not to concede a goal."

Ferguson wary of upset in Denmark

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Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson will play all his big-name stars in Tuesday's Champions League Group E trip to play AaB Aalborg.

Ferguson rested players for his side's last visit to Denmark, in 2006, and saw a weakened side lose to FC Copenhagen.

The United boss said: "I don't have any fears about complacency with this side.

"But we made a mistake with the team against Copenhagen and ended up scrapping to qualify. This time I will play my strongest team."

That means Cristiano Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney, Paul Scholes and Dimitar Berbatov are all likely to feature.

Having drawn their opening game against Villarreal at Old Trafford a fortnight ago, Ferguson knows United cannot afford another slip-up if they are to progress from a tricky group that also includes Celtic.

The players know how important qualifying is," he added.


"Having dropped two points in our first game it is important we get it right against Aalborg.

"Going to Villarreal for a win will be very difficult and the last thing we need is to be going to Parkhead needing three points to go through.

"We need to get to February because that is when the tournament really takes off.

If we get to that stage then we have as good a chance as anyone."


And Ferguson is not taking anything for granted ahead of his side's visit to the compact 10,500-capacity Aalborg Stadion.

"Aalborg were lucky to get a draw at Celtic but they will be at home and my old mate Bruce Rioch will have them fired up," said Ferguson.

"They are playing Manchester United, they will have a sell-out crowd and the whole town will be up for it. Danish clubs are always battlers."

Wenger looks for Porto pick-me-up

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Arsène Wenger may have felt "physically sick" after Arsenal FC's surprise defeat by Hull City AFC but the Frenchman was back in defiant mood 48 hours later as he looked forward to Tuesday's Group G visit of FC Porto, insisting his team had the quality to go all the way in the UEFA Champions League this season.

'We have the quality'
Citing his players' quality, desire and ambition, Wenger said: "We had a very disappointing result against Hull but I've been sitting on the bench long enough to know if you play this game 100 times you lose it one time. I believe we will win [on Tuesday]. We want to make sure we win, we want to get the right belief into our game. Everybody thinks we should not have any chance to win the Champions League – I believe we have enough quality to do it and that is what we want to show."

No complacency
Saturday's 2-1 loss was Arsenal's first reverse on home soil in 37 matches and Wenger admitted his players did not have the "right focus levels", explaining: "Maybe we were guilty in that at 1-0 we thought we'd done the difficult part." Yet he underlined there would be no danger of complacency against the Portuguese champions as Arsenal look to build on their 1-1 draw at FC Dynamo Kyiv on Matchday 1, when Porto beat Fenerbahçe SK 3-1. "We have had a draw at Kiev and we know the home games will be decisive in our qualification," said Wenger, whose side have not lost a European home tie since spring 2004. "Porto had a convincing victory against Fenerbahçe and knowing Fenerbahçe's team, with its basis of Brazilians and Spanish, that tells me a lot about their quality so we'll take them very seriously."

Playing to win
Porto may have opened with a win but history suggests they will find the going tougher on English soil. They have lost on nine of ten previous visits, including a 2-0 defeat at Arsenal in September 2006. Yet coach Jesualdo Ferreira stressed that they would play to win. "Porto don't have a good record in England – we have never won a game here which says it all. It is a challenge for us and it will be difficult, but Porto are a club that want to win every game and that will be our aim," he said.

Lucho hope
Comparing the changes in the respective sides since that 2006 meeting – decided by goals from the departed Thierry Henry and Aleksandr Hleb – Ferreira added: "Most of the Arsenal players are even better than then – bigger, older and with more experience. Now we have different players and the only thing we can say is there are more Arsenal players with experience and fewer experienced players in our team, and that might be the determining factor." Porto have not won any of their three domestic away matches this term but they recorded a morale-boosting 2-0 league success at home to FC Paços de Ferreira, and Ferreira will hope to welcome back key Argentinian midfielder Lucho González, rested on Friday. Wenger, for his part, said Samir Nasri was available after a knee injury but that fellow midfielder Alexandre Song would remain sidelined with a hip problem.

BATE - Juventus

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BATE - Juventus


Champions League Group stage, Matchday 2
30 September 2008 20:45 (CET)
Dinamo - Minsk



Having lost to nine-time European champions Real Madrid CF a fortnight ago, minnows FC BATE Borisov face another continental powerhouse on Matchday 2 in the shape of Juventus. However, with their forward line back and an expectant Belarussian crowd awaiting a first glimpse of UEFA Champions League football, Viktor Goncharenko insists his side can only "play for a win".

Madrid lessons
BATE's 2-0 defeat at the Santiago Bernabéu was no embarrassment for a team making their bow in European football's élite competition, especially one missing their first-choice attack of Gennadi Bliznyuk and Vitali Rodionov through suspension. "The Madrid match taught us a lot and I hope we can play with more confidence against Juventus," said coach Goncharenko, who is deprived of the services of the suspended Anri Khagush following the full-back's Matchday 1 dismissal. "The players felt the atmosphere of the big game and now understand the targets they have been set. It is easier to explain the demands of top-level football now."

Blunt attack
Much of Juventus's stellar squad needs little introduction to the highest echelons of the game, with coach Claudio Ranieri underlining that the club are "woven into the history of European football". They have had their problems on the domestic front, however, with Saturday's goalless draw at UC Sampdoria meaning they have scored just four goals in five Serie A outings this term. It also took a late free-kick from Alessandro Del Piero to edge out FC Zenit St. Petersburg in the Bianconeri's Group H opener, and hopes of finding some rhythm in attack were not helped by the loss of David Trezeguet for up to four months after surgery on both knees. Ranieri is considering a three-man forward line but admits the "final decision is not yet made"; Amauri will certainly feature having scored four goals in Juve's last seven fixtures.

Forward threat
"Results show that our form isn't the best, but I am not really concerned about the goals as they will come," continued Ranieri, who is also without injured trio Jonathan Zebina, Cristiano Zanetti and Gianluigi Buffon while Nicola Legrottaglie is doubtful. "We respect BATE as they have a very dangerous trio up front with [Sergei] Kryvets, Bliznyuk and Rodionov – and two fine central defenders." Bliznyuk and Rodionov in particular could pose a threat. They may have missed the trip to Madrid, but they have since made up for lost time: contributing six of the Vysshaya Liga leaders' seven unanswered goals in the victories against FC Shakhtyor Soligorsk and FC Gomel.

Giant strides
Now there is history to write as Belarus's first ever UEFA Champions League match takes place in the capital Minsk, home to rivals FC Dinamo Minsk, and where Goncharenko hopes that domestic rivalries can be put to one side, for the moment at least. "Hopefully our presence in the group stage will prove to be a huge step forward for Belarussian football as a whole, not just for BATE," said the 31-year-old, whose most experienced player, midfielder Aleksandr Ermakovich, is expected to be out for the season after a knee operation. "Taking into account the quality of our opponents, a draw would be a decent result, though we will still play to win."

Bayern vs Lyon

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Bayern vs Lyon


UEFA Champions League Group stage, Matchday Two
30 September 2008 20:45 (CET)
Fußball Arena München - Munich


Jürgen Klinsmann is putting his faith in the evolution currently changing the face of FC Bayern München as the German champions prepare to tackle their French counterparts Olympique Lyonnais on Tuesday.

Mixed results
The alterations which the former Germany coach has made both to the team and to their approach since taking over in the summer have brought limited rewards, with patchy Bundesliga form only partially offset by the 1-0 defeat of FC Steaua Bucureşti a fortnight ago. However, that victory in Romania means Bayern lead Group F, and Klinsmann is upbeat as he pits his wits against his former AS Monaco FC team-mate, Lyon coach Claude Puel.

'Changing hierarchy'
"I think it's a good time for this match. It's normal there are problems when we lose, but the team are going through a restructuring process," said Klinsmann, who saw his side beaten 1-0 at Hannover 96 on Saturday to drop to ninth in the table after six games. "The hierarchy is changing, and it's a very interesting situation. I think it evolves even quicker when there are lots of matches, like there are now. We have to try and live up to the demands of the moment."

Ribéry return
Right-back Christian Lell limped out of the weekend reverse and will be replaced by Massimo Oddo, who opted for Bayern over Lyon when leaving AC Milan last month. Another man who made the same choice the year before when departing from Olympique de Marseille, Franck Ribéry, may not make the starting XI yet the French international's return this week following ankle surgery suggests he will feature. "Franck is a very good player who gives the team a lot, even if he's on the bench, because of his happy-go-lucky nature," Klinsmann said. "He gives us more confidence and more creativity on the pitch, and we're delighted that little by little he's getting back into shape and soon he'll be 100 per cent."

Juninho doubt
Puel will make an eleventh-hour decision on whether to include midfield fulcrum Juninho Pernambucano, who has sat out the club's last two Ligue 1 encounters with a groin injury. The 33-year-old has barely been missed, however, as Saturday's 2-1 home win against AS Nancy-Lorraine extended Lyon's unbeaten opening to the league campaign to seven games, easing them five points clear of the chasing pack. Karim Benzema limped out of the match but will be fit to lead the attack, while Anthony Mounier – the supplier of both goals against Nancy – is likely to be preferred in left midfield to Kim Källström.

Points needed
Lyon were unable to replicate their imperious domestic form in their Group F curtain-raiser, although they came from two goals down to share the spoils with ACF Fiorentina, and Puel knows that that home draw means his team must not leave Bavaria empty-handed. "I think all the matches are important as the group is so tight, but we have to bring something back from here," he said. "We've started very well [in Ligue 1] and the progress has been interesting, but the Champions League is a totally different level. Bayern are going to be ready mentally, they'll be highly motivated and will produce some top-quality football."

Zenit vs Real Madrid

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Zenit vs Real Madrid


Champions League Group stage, Matchday 2
30 September 2008 18:30 (CET)
Petrovsky - St Petersburg


Real Madrid CF coach Bernd Schuster is backing his side to win away in the UEFA Champions League for the first time in eight attempts when they take on FC Zenit St. Petersburg at the Petrovsky Stadium on Tuesday.

'Tough game'
It is nearly two years since Madrid last won on their travels in the competition, a 4-1 success at FC Steaua Bucureşti in October 2006, but buoyed by a 2-1 victory at Real Betis Balompié on Saturday, Schuster arrived in Russia full of confidence. "Our last two away wins in the Liga showed our power and high fitness levels, but of course I'm expecting a tough game," said Schuster, whose team are just one point off top spot in Spain. "Zenit lost their first game and with the support of their fans they will be desperate to win."

'Quick and clever'
Zenit went down 1-0 at Juventus on opening night, when Madrid saw off debutants FC BATE Borisov 2-0. Zenit are also taking part in the competition for the first time, but with the Russian champions having lifted the UEFA Cup and the UEFA Super Cup in the last four months, Schuster considers them a totally different proposition. "Zenit are a very quick and tactically clever team," said the German, who is without the injured Guti, Fernando Gago and Wesley Sneijder and has left Christoph Metzelder and Míchel Salgado in Madrid.

'Surprise'
Zenit could hardly have had a more daunting start to their first UEFA Champions League campaign. Having kicked off against Juventus, they now aim to collect their first points in Group H at the expense of the nine-times European champions. Coach Dick Advocaat is predicting a tight contest and warns his side they cannot afford to waste the few chances that may come their way. "We have to play our football and try to surprise them," he said.

Positives
Nonetheless, the Dutchman has had plenty of positives to draw from in recent days. Advocaat celebrated his 61st birthday on Saturday by watching Zenit win 3-0 at FC Lokomotiv Moskva to go sixth in the Premier-Liga, also meeting Vladimir Putin before the match. "Putin likes football but he cannot attend [many] games," Advocaat replied when asked to draw comparisons between the Russian prime minister and Silvio Berlusconi, the former AC Milan president and current Italian prime minister. Advocaat added that Putin has no affiliation to any particular club, but will surely be siding with Zenit when Madrid come calling.

Križanac omission
The Zenit trainer is also boosted by the news defender Roman Shirokov has returned to training and could feature, while striker Fatih Tekke is available after a thigh complaint. Both are likely substitutes. However, defender Ivica Križanac is surprisingly omitted for the second successive match. "It is my decision," was all Advocaat would say on the matter. He was more expansive about the opposition, expecting Schuster to make changes from the side that beat Betis. "He uses a rotation system and I think he will make two changes, but it doesn't bother us who starts as they have lots of great players. Real are the favourites in our group. The other teams are battling for the remaining places."

Atlético Madrid vs Marseille

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Atlético Madrid vs Marseille

Champions League Group D, Matchday 2
Wednesday 1st October, 20.45 CET
Vicente Calderón, Madrid


The Vicente Calderón will host its first Champions League match for eleven years on Wednesday night as Group D leaders Atlético Madrid host French side Olympique de Marseille. The Spanish side are back amongst Europe’s elite after more than a decade out in the wilderness and after thrashing PSV 3-0 in their opening game there is a mood of expectancy amongst the Atléti fans.

Their visitors on the other hand went ahead against Liverpool in their opening match but eventually succumbed to two Steven Gerard strikes, one a glorious dipping effort and the other from the spot. Erik Gerets’ side are arguably considered the weakest team in this tough group and they will have their work cut out for them in Spain

TEAM NEWS

Atlético Madrid

Javier Aguirre is not exactly short of injury troubles as his side prepare for an important month in their season. The good news is that both Maniche and Heitinga should return whilst the bad news is Pablo, Pernia, Forlán and Simao will still be out.

The return of Heitinga should mean that he will partner Tomas Ujfalusi in defence and Luis Perea and Antonio López will go to right and left back respectively. Maniche will play in midfield probably alongside Raúl García although Paulo Assuncao might be given a start.

Probable Starting XI (4-4-2): Coupet – Perea, Ujfalusi, Heitinga, López – Maxi Rodríguez, Maniche, R. García, L. García – Sinama Pongolle, Agüero

Marseille

Marseille should be able to field their strongest side against Atlético Madrid although it remains to be just how Erik Gerets decides to line-up. Against Liverpool it was essentially a 4-4-2 and it seems likely that both Niang and Koné, who didn’t play at the weekend, will start upfront for Marseille.

In midfield Modeste M’Bami could return after only starting on the bench for the Le Mans game whilst Boudewijn Zenden will be hoping to get another taste of Champions League action.

Probable Starting XI (4-4-2): Mandanda – Bonnart, Hilton, Zubar, Taiwo – Valbuena, Cheyrou, Cana, Arfa – Niang, Koné

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Atlético Madrid

The return of Maniche into the Atlético Madrid midfield should add not only creativity but also balance. Against Sevilla they looked short of ideas whilst the Portuguese international has started the season in sensational form and should help to drive the team on from the middle of the park. Were it not for Agüero he would have been man of the match against PSV and he will be hoping to put in a similar performance in front of his home crowd.

Marseille

Hatem Ben Arfa was one of the surprise moves of the summer as he switched from champions Lyon to Marseille. The youngster was rumoured to be going to one of Europe’s big clubs but he decided to stay in France, presumably to develop himself further before leaving. So far this season he has shown exactly why he was so highly rated at Lyon though and he has been undoubtedly one of Marseille’s best players. He is both tricky and fast and if the Atlético Madrid defence are not fully focused he has the ability to either slide a team-mate in to score or to have a pop from long range himself.

Fiorentina vsSteaua Bucuresti

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Fiorentina vs Steaua Bucuresti

UEFA Champions League Group F, Matchday Two
Tuesday September 30th, 20:45 (CET)
Stadio Artemio Franchi, Florence

This match day two encounter brings together Italy’s Fiorentina and Romanian team Steaua Bucuresti in a tactical war which will be played out on the Stadio Artemio Franchi battlefield. Both teams began the current European campaign with disappointing results - considering what they truly deserved out of the match - dropping points against German and French opposition. Thus, they'll both be keen to make up for their winless first weeks.

TEAM NEWS

Fiorentina

Fiorentina have no players suspended or within a booking of suspension. Italian international Alessandro Gamberini has returned to action after he dislocated his shoulder representing Italy in a World Cup qualifier against Cyprus two weeks ago. Gianluca Comotto is also available for the Viola, having recovered from injury, but Manuel Pasqual remains unavailable.

Wing-back Luciano Zauri sustained a head knock against Lyon, but the defender has recovered well and looks set to line up alongside Gamberini in the back line. Fiorentina is expected to use a 4-3-3 formation with Adrian Mutu, Gilardino and Mario Santana up front in a three man attack, while Felipe Melo is expected to start behind them.

Probable starting XI: Frey- Gobbi, Gamberini, Kroldrup, Comotto - Montolivo, Felipe, Donadel - Mutu, Gilardino, Santana.


Steaua

Steaua welcome back Banel Nicolita after the player served a one match ban on the last match day against Bayern Munich. Ifeanyi Emeghara and Mihaita Plesan are out with injuries and therefore unavailable for the Viola clash.

Ovidiu Petre and Mirel Radoi are recovering from injury and it is unclear whether they will take part in the European game, as both have only recently resumed training. Pawel Golanski, though, has returned to action following his knee injury.

Probable starting XI: Zapata- Marin, Ghionea, Goian, Ogararu - Toja, Gomes, Lovin, Semedo, Stancu - Arthuro


PLAYERS TO WATCH

Fiorentina

Adrian Mutu will be facing many of his national team mates on Tuesday, but the player that has stood out for the Viola so far this season is his strike partner. Alberto Gilardino has been reborn in Florence with his new team. The former Milan hitman was bought in the summer and has since paid back the faith shown in him by the Viola. He netted against rivals Juventus and then hit a double against. Add to those crucual goals the his winners against Bologna and Genoa in two of the last three Serie A rounds.

He is coming up with the goods for the Viola so far this term and his partnership with Adrian Mutu is becoming a force to be reckoned with in Serie A. It seems that being reunited with coach Cesare Prandelli has brought out the best in Gilardino and Steaua would be wise to watch him very closely on Tuesday night.

Steaua

Sorin Ghoinea is a highly regarded centre-back who is considered one of the best defenders in Eastern Europe. Ghoinea was in fine form against Bayern strikers Luca Toni and Miroslav Klose on matchday one, keeping the prolific strikers from making their mark on the match. Ghoinea plays an important leadership role in the team and will be at the centre of much of the action, especially as he will attempt to keep Gilardino and Mutu quiet on the night.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Arsenal v FC Porto

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Arsenal v FC Porto

Venue: Emirates Stadium
Date: Tuesday, 30 September
Kick-off: 1945 BST



Arsenal midfielder Samir Nasri returns to the squad for Tuesday's Champions League clash with Porto.

Nasri has been out with a knee injury since late August but is available to face the Portuguese side.

Alex Song (hip) joins Tomas Rosicky, Abou Diaby, Amaury Bischoff and Eduardo in the treatment room.

Arsene Wenger has said he will make changes following the shock defeat by Hull, with Mikael Silvestre among those hoping for starts.

Arsenal (from): Almunia, Clichy, Toure, Gallas, Sagna, Fabregas, Denilson, Nasri, Walcott, Adebayor, Van Persie, Fabianski, Djourou, Vela, Bendtner, Wilshere, Eboue, Silvestre.

Fenerbahçe vsDynamo Kiev

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Fenerbahçe vs Dynamo Kiev

CL Matchday 2, Group G
Fenerbahçe vs Dynamo Kyiv
Tuesday 30 September 2008, 20:45 CET
Sükrü Saraçoglu - Istanbul


These two sides have never met before and may be deemed outsiders for a qualification spot, but there's plenty to prove for both teams in Istanbul on Tuesday...

TEAM NEWS

Fenerbahçe

Volkan Demirel missed out at the weekend but should be back in action. Coach Luis Aragonés is sweating on the fitness of Semih Senturk, Josico, Alex, and Edu. Edu and Josico are least likely to make it, but Semih and Alex seem able to return. Deivid and Gokcek Vederson are definitely out - both have missed every game so far this season.

The Yellow Canaries would normally line up 4-4-2, given that this is a home fixture, but a lack of striking options may see league top scorer Kazim-Richards (Kazim Kazim) play just off Dani Güiza in a wide-forward role.

Possible Starting XI: Volkan Demirel; Gonul, Lugano, Onder Turaci, Roberto Carlos; Emre Belozoglu, Sahin, Alex, Boral; Kazim Kazim; Güiza.

Dynamo Kiev

Coach Yuri Semin is waiting until the last minute to narrow his 21-man squad down to 18 for the Istanbul encounter. Definitely out are recently-injured Ayila Yussuf and Artem Milevskiy, as well as long-term absentees Oleh Gusev and Carlos Correa.

Guinean hotshot Ismael Bangoura will be expected to lead the line, while Ognjen Vukojevic should marshal the midfield.

Possible Starting XI: Shovkovsky; Betao, Diakhate, Mikhalik, Nesmachniy; Vukojevic; Ninkovic, Aliyev, Ghioane, Eremenko; Bangoura.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Fenerbahçe - Kazim-Kazim: Colin Kazim-Richards to his school friends and Kazim-Kazim to his Fenerbahçe fans, looking at the winger's career path still garners amazement. From Brighton & Hove Albion to the Istanbul giants in a year, the Londoner of Turkish Cypriot descent inspires admiration wherever he goes. Despite being not much of a goalscorer at his last club, Sheffield United, he finds the net often enough for the Yellow Canaries, having hit two league goals already this season. With Semih Senturk still out, he and Dani Güiza are the most likely candidates for a home goal.

Dynamo Kiev - Ognjen Vukojević: The 24-year-old Croat made fleeting appearances at Euro 2008, but these, combined with his game-winning form for Dinamo Zagreb over the last couple of years, persuaded Dinamo Kiev to part with €6m to procure his services. Having penned a five-year deal at the Lobanovsky Dynamo Stadium, he has been an ever-present this season and will be thus relied upon to steady the defensive midfield for this encounter.

AaB Aalborg v Man Utd

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AaB Aalborg v Man Utd

Uefa Champions League
Group E - AaB Aalborg v Man Utd
Venue: Energi Nord Arena
Date: Tuesday, 30 September
Kick-off: 1945 BST


There is surely no other sport on the planet which would pit the Premier League and European champions against a team that needed an extra-time goal in their last match against lowly Danish second-division opposition to secure victory?

However, the footballing hands of fate have created such a contest this week when Aalborg BK face the glittering array of stars that comprise the Manchester United side.
Whilst no one would dispute this assertion, the plucky 0-0 draw that the side from Denmark picked up two weeks ago against Celtic shows that surprise results can indeed happen. Anyone watching that match would have seen a team which was good value for their point, with even Hoops midfielder Barry Robson’s missed penalty acting as a reward to AaB for an otherwise excellent showing. Bruce Rioch’s side must repeat dogged play like this on Tuesday evening if they are to stand even the smallest chance of denying the Reds their first Champions League victory of the season.

Regrettably for the AaB fans, such solidarity has rarely been on show in the club’s defence of their Danish Superligaen title so far. A rearguard that was so resolute at Celtic Park has instead leaked goals at an alarming rate domestically, with their last two league fixtures being a 3-0 reversal to Danish champions-elect FC Copenhagen and a 2-0 defeat to AGF Aarhus.

The loss of inspirational USA international defender Danny Califf to rivals FC Midtjylland has been the root cause of this problem, with the clubs defensive woes reaching its crescendo this weekend in the cup game against Brønshøj BK. That match saw Aalborg scrape through 3-2 against opposition which even the Manchester United U-18s would pulverise.

A repeat of this kind of performance will see the Premier League glitterati put up a cricket score. However, if the European arena can again inspire Aalborg to defy the odds, then the Red Devils could very well be in for another disastrous night in Denmark.
TEAM NEWS

Aalborg BK

Lasse Nielsen could move in to the Aalborg defence to replace the suspended Michael Jakobsen for the visit of Manchester United. Australian centre-back Michael Beauchamp is available for selection after the red card he picked up against Celtic was correctly transferred to his team-mate. Danish international right-back Kasper Bøgelund (hamstring) is a serious doubt for this game after being forced to come off at half-time during AaB’s match at the weekend.

Last starting XI (vs. Brønshøj BK): Zaza, Bøgelund (46 Lasse Nielsen), Beauchamp, Olfers, Michael Jakobsen, Thomas Augustinussen, Kasper Risgård, Andreas Johansson, Caca (66 Marek Saganowski), Anders Due (76 Martin Pedersen), Jeppe Curth

Squad: Zaza, Stenild, Pedersen, Beauchamp, Bøgelund, Olfers, Due, Johansson, Augustinussen, Saganowski, Curth, Caca, Bræmer, Sørensen, Nomvethe, Risgård, Enevoldsen, Nielsen, Schwartz, Kristensen.

Manchester United

Gary Neville has been left out of Manchester United's squad even though the full-back seemed to come through Saturday's win over Bolton unscathed.

Wes Brown is likely to replace him and Owen Hargreaves (knee) has been left at home for more treatment but otherwise the holders have a full-strength squad.

Dimitar Berbatov, Wayne Rooney and Carlos Tevez are competing for places.


Last starting XI (vs. Bolton Wanderers): Van Der Sar, Neville, Ferdinand, Vidic, Evra, Ronaldo (Nani 80), Fletcher, Anderson (Scholes 71), Park, Tevez (Rooney 71), Berbatov.
Subs Not Used: Amos, Giggs, O'Shea, Evans.

Squad: Van Der Sar, Kuszczak, Amos, Neville, Ferdinand, Vidic, Evra, O'Shea, Evans, Rafael Da Silva, Ronaldo, Nani, Fletcher, Anderson, Scholes, Giggs, Park, Tevez, Rooney, Berbatov, Manucho.


PLAYERS TO WATCH

Aalborg BK

The decision to rescind Michael Beauchamp’s red card against Celtic will provide a major boost to Aalborg’s hopes on Tuesday night. The Australian international had cut an imposing figure at the heart of the AaB defence before his unfortunate sending off, with his large frame helping to repel the Hoops forwards with ease. Such physical prowess will be needed once again if another unlikely result is to be obtained by the Danish champions.

Manchester United

After finally getting off the mark for the season at the weekend, Wayne Rooney will be determined to kick start the Red Devils’ Champions League campaign against Aalborg. The England man’s 20-minute cameo against Bolton thrilled the Old Trafford crowd and visibly inspired his team-mates. With United now looking to register their first Champions League win of the season on Tuesday, this return to form for Rooney should spell trouble for the Red Devil’s opponents.

Villarreal Vs Celtic

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Villarreal Vs Celtic


Champions League Group E
Villarreal vs Celtic
Tuesday 30th September, 2045 CET
El Madrigal, Vila-real, Spain


Villarreal return to European action on Tuesday evening after continuing their excellent league form with a 1-0 win away to Sporting Gijón on Saturday, a result which saw them remain top of La Liga for another week.

They couldn’t have asked for a more positive start to the season, taking thirteen points from a possible fifteen available, which has bolstered claims that they could be one of the many teams that could mount a realistic title challenge this season.

Manuel Pellegrini’s men have the basis of a solid, hard-to-beat team. From the dependable, Euro 2008 winner Marcos Senna to the skilful Santi Cazorla, there is a useful mix of graft and guile that makes them a real threat, especially at the formidable El Madrigal.

Matchday one saw them battle to a hard-earned draw at Old Trafford, despite both Senna and Cazorla missing the match through injury, which is testament to the strength in depth they have in their squad. That result has opened up the group, and with Celtic also drawing their opening encounter this match is crucial for both sides in order to strengthen their position in the section.

On Saturday evening The Yellow Submarines struggled to break down a staunch Sporting Gijón back line, and it took a triumphant return from Giuseppe Rossi, who leapt off the bench after six weeks out with an ankle injury, to notch the winner in the second half. Now that the American-born Italian international is back in the fold, Villarreal have their full compliment fit for the first time this season, which could be bad news for Celtic.

Cautious Celtic

The Scottish champions have one of the worst away records in Champions League history, picking up just one point from all of their campaigns combined. El Madrigal is not the place to be going looking to end that dismal run. They will be disappointed with their home draw to supposed minnows Aalborg in the opening match, and they looked ineffective for long spells, struggling against a side whose players had never been involved in a match in this competition.

However domestically, aside from a home humbling by rivals Rangers, their form has been good. They managed wins away at Kilmarnock and Motherwell, and a last-gasp Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink goal on Saturday beat Aberdeen 3-2. Their strikers are also on excellent form, particularly former Man City striker Georgios Samaras, who has struck four in the Glasgow clubs’ last two away matches.

Celtic usually play a conventional 4-4-2 formation, but going to somewhere as difficult as Vila-real may force them into a tactical reshuffle. In order to stifle the Spanish outfit, Gordon Strachan may sacrifice a striker and play 4-5-1 and operate in a more defensive manner. In this case it may be up to Marcos Senna to dictate the pace and play the killer pass that can unlock the defence.

Who Sennas’ passes will be going to is up for debate. Nihat still doesn’t look match sharp after his long spell out through injury, and with Rossi making a scoring return, it may be the latter that is given the nod to partner Llorente up front.

They are up against one of the best goalkeepers around, however; Artur Boruc showed at Euro 2008 how proficient he is between the sticks, and he is a big game player who relishes these occasions. Villarreal will need to be wary of the dead-ball deliveries of Shunsuke Nakamura, who has an impressive strike-rate from free-kicks, so any fouls in and around the penalty area could be extremely dangerous.

This may be a tight affair. A backs-to-the-wall performance by Celtic will be tough to crack, but Villarreal have enough talent in offensive positions to make the long spells of possession they are likely to have count when it matters most.


TEAM NEWS

Villarreal

Giuseppe Rossi came off the bench to mark his return from injury on Saturday, meaning Villarreal have a full compliment for the match. Indeed there may be some tough decisions to make for the final squad. The likes of Pascal Cygan and Cani were omitted from the 19-man team for the Sporting match, and there could be more difficult decisions for Pellegrini on Tuesday

Probable Starting XI (4-4-2): Diego López; Angel, Gonzalo, Godín, Capdevila; Pirès, Eguren, Senna, Cazorla; Nihat/Rossi, Llorente

Celtic

Gary Caldwell should return to the starting line-up after serving a suspension in the match versus Aberdeen, meaning Glen Loovens will miss out. Hesselink netted twice against the Dons, and Scott Macdonald also scored meaning if Strachan does indeed go with one striker, he has a big decision to make with all three strikers on good goal scoring form.

Probable Starting XI (4-5-1): Boruc; Hinkel/Wilson, Caldwell, McManus, Naylor; Nakamura, Brown, Robson,Hartley, Maloney/McGeady; Samaras/Vennegoor of Hesselink

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Villarreal

Giuseppe Rossi is a welcome return. He a talented player with a big future in the game and if on form is a thorn in the side of even the best defences. Celtic will need to be extremely vigilant or else Rossi will finish them off.

Celtic

Georgios Samaras has been in superb form for his side this side, and has the pace and power to be an ideal lone striker if Celtic choose to play that way. He scores with his left, his right, and with his head, and although he didn’t cut it in the Premiership, this could be his opportunity to prove he has what it takes at the highest level.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Matchday 2

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Matchday 2




30 September 2008


Group Home Away
E AaB 20:45 Man. United
E Villarreal 20:45 Celtic
F Fiorentina 20:45 Steaua
F Bayern 20:45 Lyon
G Arsenal 20:45 Porto
G Fenerbahçe 20:45 Dynamo Kyiv
H Zenit 18:30 Real Madrid
H BATE 20:45 Juventus


01 October 2008


Group Home Away
A CFR Cluj 20:45 Chelsea
A Bordeaux 20:45 Roma
B Anorthosis 20:45 Panathinaikos
B Internazionale 20:45 Bremen
C Sporting 20:45 Basel
C Shakhtar 20:45 Barcelona
D Liverpool 20:45 PSV
D Atlético 20:45 Marseille

Champions league fixtures

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Champions league fixtures


Qualifying round



First qualifying round




15 - 16 July 2008
22 - 23 July 2008


Second qualifying round




29 - 30 July 2008
05 - 06 August 2008


Third qualifying round




12 - 13 August 2008
26 - 27 August 2008


Group stage




Matchday 1


16 - 17 September 2008



Matchday 2



30 Sep - 01 Oct 2008



Matchday 3




21 - 22 October 2008



Matchday 4



04 - 05 November 2008



Matchday 5



25 - 26 November 2008



Matchday 6




09 - 10 December 2008

Final Phase

First knockout round

24 - 25 February 2009
10 - 11 March 2009

Quarter-finals

07 - 08 April 2009
14 - 15 April 2009

Semi-finals

28 - 29 April 2009
05 - 06 May 2009

Final

27 May 2009

Fixtures

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Fixtures



The UEFA Champions League comprises of three qualifying rounds, a group stage, and four knockout rounds.


Qualifying

In matches in the three qualifying rounds, clubs play two matches against each other on a home and away basis, with the club scoring the greater aggregate of goals qualifying for the next round. In the event of both teams scoring the same number of goals, the team which scores more goals away qualifies.


Group stage

The 16 winners of the third qualifying round ties join a similar number of automatic entrants in the 32-team group stage. The clubs are split into eight groups of four teams, who play home and away against each of their pool opponents between September and December to decide which two teams from each pool advance to the first knockout round. The third-place finishers in each pool enter the UEFA Cup Round of 32.


Knockout phase

From the last 16 until the semi-finals, clubs play two matches against each other on a home and away basis with the same rules as the qualifying rounds applied. In the last 16, group winners play runners-up other than teams from their own pool or nation, while from the quarter-finals on the draw is free.


Final

The final is decided by a single match - which this year will be played in Rome.

Injured Altıntop to miss group stage

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Injured Altıntop to miss group stage



FC Bayern München midfielder Hamit Altıntop will not return until 2009 as he continues to recover from breaking his right foot.

Continuing problem
The 25-year-old suffered a fracture while playing for Turkey against Belarus on 26 March. Although he came back to appear five times at UEFA EURO 2008™ and played 64 minutes of Bayern's Bundesliga game with BV Borussia Dortmund in August, the problem has recurred and a fortnight ago he underwent corrective surgery. The club's head coach Jürgen Klinsmann said: "He is facing a new process of rehabilitation lasting many weeks." Altıntop is therefore unlikely to play any part in the UEFA Champions League group stage, in which Bayern take on Group F rivals Olympique Lyonnais on Tuesday following their opening 1-0 win at FC Steaua Bucureşti.

Groups

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Groups



Group A: Chelsea, Roma, Bordeaux, CFR Cluj

Group B: Inter, Werder Bremen, Panathanaikos, Anorthosis

Group C: Barcelona, Sporting Lisbon, Basel, Shaktar Donetsk

Group D: Liverpool, PSV Eindhoven, Marseille, Atletico Madrid

Group E: Man Utd, Villarreal, Celtic, Aalborg

Group F: Lyon, Bayern Munich, Steaua Bucharest, Fiorentina

Group G: Arsenal, Porto, Fenerbahce, Dynamo Kiev

Group H: Real Madrid, Juventus, Zenit St Petersburg, BATE Borisov

UEFA Champions League

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UEFA Champions League



The UEFA Champions League, which evolved from the European Champion Clubs' Cup, is a seasonal club football competition organised by UEFA since 1992 (or overall in its older format since 1955) for the most successful football clubs in Europe. The prize, the European Champion Clubs' Cup (more commonly known as the European Cup), is one of the most prestigious club trophies in the sport. The UEFA Champions League is separate from the UEFA Cup.

The tournament consists of several stages. In the present format it begins in mid-July with three preliminary knockout qualifying rounds. The 16 surviving teams join 16 seeded teams in a group stage. Eight group winners and eight runners-up enter the final knockout rounds, which end with the final match in May. Previously only the champions of their respective national league could participate in the competition; however, this was changed in 1997 to allow the runners-up of the stronger leagues to compete as well.

The title has been held by 21 different clubs, 12 of which have won the title more than once. The all-time record-holder is Real Madrid with their nine wins.

The current holders are Manchester United who beat Chelsea 6-5 on penalties, 1-1 after extra time, in Moscow on 21 May 2008.

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