Friday, February 26, 2010

Inter Milan beats Chelsea while CSKA holds Sevilla


Chelsea 1-2 Inter Milan
José Mourinho's employers earned the edge against his former club thanks to Diego Milito and Esteban Cambiasso goals after Salomon Kalou had equalised.
Four minutes after Kalou's shot had escaped Júlio César, Cambiasso unleashed two thunderous shots; Branislav Ivanović blocked the first, the second was unstoppable.The win was Inter's first in six matches against Premier League opposition – although the Nerazzurri have been beaten on their last two visits to England.
Wesley Sneijder and his marker Ivanović played a key role in all three goals, their intelligence and incisive run respectively setting up the chances.Lucio's superb tackle and raking crossfield pass to Sneijder set Inter on the attack, the ball being worked to Samuel Eto'o only for the striker to miscue in front of goal.
Inter will be optimistic of avoiding a fourth successive first knockout round defeat although Chelsea have won their last three home games against Serie A sides.

CSKA Moskva 1-1 Sevilla

Álvaro Negredo put Sevilla in front against the run of play but CSKA were on top after half-time and were rewarded with Mark González's spectacular 66th-minute equaliser.After González had finally rewarded CSKA's pressure, they looked the likelier winners and only a fine Andrés Palop save to deny Tomáš Necid late on kept the scores level.
Vasili Berezutski and Miloš Krasić made their 50th appearances in UEFA club competition; both have played in all seven of CSKA's games this season.Navas and González were lively on the same wing, the former providing dangerous crosses from the Sevilla right and the Chilean threatening on CSKA's left.
On a cold Moscow evening, the home crowd gave CSKA vocal backing although it was not until González's stunning 25-metre strike, that they had tangible reward.CSKA won at FC Barcelona on their only previous visit to Spain and will need to score at least once on 16 March at the Ramón Sánchez-Pizjuán to stay in the competition.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Bordeaux 1-0 Olympiacos


FC Girondins de Bordeaux are within sight of the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals for the first time as Michaël Ciani's header in first-half added time earned a narrow but vital victory at Olympiacos FC.

Laurent Blanc's team, who collected the most points of the 32 teams in the group stage, continued their impressive form in the competition by soaking up long spells of home pressure and snatching the win with Ciani's third goal of the season two minutes into added time at the end of the first period. Bordeaux twice reached the last eight of the European Champion Clubs' Cup in the 1980s, and will be optimistic of completing the job at the Stade Chaban-Delmas on 17 March.

Olympiacos had booked their place in the last 16 by finishing second in Group H thanks largely to their home form and, roared on by a typically passionate crowd, were quick to press for a seventh UEFA Champions League victory in as many matches in Piraeus this season. Olof Mellberg threatened first, heading Jesús Alberto Dátolo's right-wing free-kick just wide after four minutes. Olympiacos wingers Dátolo and Lomana LuaLua saw plenty of possession in the early exchanges and both men had Bordeaux on the back foot with their pace and trickery.

Although the visitors had little opportunity to display their attacking prowess – Fernando's fierce long-range drive drawing the first save from Antonis Nikopoldis in the home goal after 26 minutes – Olympiacos had no such problems, thoroughly testing a Bordeaux defence that conceded just twice in the group stage. Cédric Carrasso tipped an Ieroklis Stoltidis header over his crossbar and, just as it seemed the home team could be satisfied with their first-half display, the French champions struck seconds before half-time. Again it was a set-piece goal, Yoann Gourcuff delivering a free-kick from the left and Ciani muscling ahead of the home defence to nod in.

Gourcuff had another free-kick opportunity at the start of the second half but this time the wall blocked his kick, before Ciani got on the end of a corner only to head too high this time. Olympiacos, however, missed a golden opportunity to level just before the hour, Enzo Maresca meeting Raúl Bravo's cross firmly but inaccurately, heading over Carrasso's crossbar, but that proved a rare opening for the home team, who struggled to penetrate the Bordeaux defence despite Božidar Bandović replacing defensive midfielder Cristian Ledesma with winger Jaouad Zairi in an attempt to add impetus to his attack.

With 14 minutes left, the Olympiacos coach threw on Matt Derbyshire, who made an instant impression with a neat lay-off for LuaLua to unleash a low shot that was brilliantly kept out by Carrasso. The Bordeaux goalkeeper then tipped over another effort from the Congolese striker, although from the resulting corner he was grateful for Benoît Trémoulinas clearing Vassilis Torosidis's effort off the goalline. There was still time for Carrasso to deny LuaLua again, the goalkeeper's instinctive block repelling another close-range header to preserve Bordeaux's advantage.

Barcelona 1-1 Stuttgart


Stuttgart almost recorded a sensational victory over European champions Barcelona in the Champions League, but Zlatan Ibrahimovic equalised Cacau's opener to share the spoils ahead of the round of 16 second leg.

The line-ups contained few surprises, with Cacau continuing alongside Pavel Pogrebnyak for Stuttgart after his four-goal haul against Koeln at the weekend. Andres Iniesta started on the left of the Barcelona front three in preference to Thierry Henry.
Lionel Messi ran into the area early on, looking set to fire a left foot shot after cutting back. But he lost his footing completely and on the counter-attack Pogrebnyak was denied by Rafael Marquez as he looked to get a shot in at Victor Valdes.

Stuttgart made a decent chance on 12 minutes when Cristian Molinaro drove forward before feeding Cacau, but the in-form striker couldn’t quite tee himself up and ended up completely mis-hitting his effort at goal.

At the other end it was the usual story, with Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Messi each being denied by last-ditch tackles as the home side looked to defend deep against the marauding Catalans.

Ibrahimovic became goal-saver on 23 minutes, when he flicked away a right wing corner, before getting in front of Delpierre at the far post when the ball was swung back in. The Swede got a bang on the nose for his troubles, but he’d done his job.

But that chance had come as part of a real period of pressure from Stuttgart, and they deservedly took the lead in the 25th minute. Aliaksandr Hleb made good progress on the right, allowing Gebhart to cross delightfully towards the far post, where Cacau rose above Carles Puyol to power an unstoppable header past Victor Valdes and send the home crowd into raptures.

Within four minutes the Germans were hoping for a second when Pogrebnyak chipped a cross in the direction of the six-yard box, but the ball caught Marquez on the arm. Referee Kuipers rightly waved away appeals, deciding that the Mexican had little time to move his arm away as the ball came in.

Stuttgart continued to dominate and Cacau almost became provider when he brilliantly shrugged off Marquez before drawing Gerard Pique and playing a low ball into the six-yard box, but Puyol covered well. Khedira then had his own chance for a second when he got clear of Puyol on the left, but his quickly-taken toe-prod was blocked by Valdes.

The dominance of the home side was becoming almost embarrassing, as Hleb dispossessed Marquez deep in his own half and played a low ball for Christian Trasch, whose scuffed cross-shot spun across goal, escaping both attackers and defenders on its way out of play.

Despite the one-way traffic, Stuttgart almost gave up their lead five minutes before the interval when Jens Lehmann failed to hold a fairly weak left-foot shot from Messi and the ball spun out of his grasp and against the post, allowing the former Arsenal keeper to scramble back to collect gratefully.

The home side had without doubt deserved their half-time lead, but it lasted less than seven minutes after the break, with Zlatan Ibrahimovic finally registering his first goal in a Champions League knockout fixture.

As everyone retreated from a Barca corner, Sergio Busquets played the ball back in to the far post for Pique to head down for Ibrahimovic, and after the Swede’s first shot came back off Lehmann, he side-footed home with ease to bring the European champions level.

There were then attacks back and forth as Stuttgart looked to regain their advantage without risking a potentially fatal second Barca goal. The visitors introduced Gabriel Milito in place of Rafael Marquez at the back, knowing that the Mexican’s presence could be very important come the return leg.

There was a moment of real controversy on 68 minutes when Barcelona had a possible claim for a penalty. Lehmann failed to collect a left-wing cross, allowing Ibrahimovic to turn and shoot, but his goalbound shot was blocked on the line by the upper arm of Molinaro. The referee waved away the Catalans’ appeals, presumably believing it to have been another case of ball to hand.

Moments later, Molinaro broke through a crowd of players in the box to reach the byline before pulling back towards Cacau, but Valdes managed to claim the striker’s stab towards goal at the second attempt.

There followed a period of stalemate, as both teams seemed increasingly aware of their need to maintain the status quo at the very least ahead of the second leg in the Camp Nou.

Stuttgart had a late opportunity to take a lead to Barcelona when substitute Marica was tugged back by Pique on the edge of the box. The defender was shown a yellow card and the set-piece was drilled in by Kuzmanovic, but Valdes managed to hold on with attackers running in looking to take advantage of any slip up.

There was still enough time for Khedira to pick up a booking for a poor challenge on Lionel Messi which brought a strong reaction from Ibrahimovic.

Bayern 2-1 Fiorentina


Miroslav Klose headed a last-minute winner as Bayern saw off a Viola side who had Massimo Gobbi dismissed (73) after Per Krøldrup cancelled Arjen Robben's opener.
Bayern were bracing themselves for an awkward half-time team talk when Krøldrup halted Franck Ribéry in added time – Tom Henning Øvrebø pointed to the spot.
Louis van Gaal's side had scored at least three goals in each of their last five matches but two were enough to extend their winning run to 13 games in all competitions.
Save for Mark van Bommel's full-blooded challenge on Riccardo Montolivo there was little direct confrontation between captains but they had enough defending to do.
Dazzling throughout, Robben was at his brilliant best just before the opener as he cut inside and flicked a pass to Thomas Müller – the striker demonstrated less poise.
Fiorentina's hopes of reaching the quarter-finals for the first time rest on them defeating a Bayern team that overwhelmed Juventus 4-1 on their last trip to Italy.

Porto 2-1 Arsenal


Łukasz Fabiański deflected in Silvestre Varela's early cross-shot but Sol Campbell equalised seven minutes later only for the quick-thinking Falcao to strike the winner.
Fabiański picked up a Campbell back pass and Rúben Micael's quick free-kick in the box set Falcao free to score the winner before Arsenal had been able to regroup.
Campbell made his 200th appearance for Arsenal and headed a goal just like in his previous UEFA Champions League match, another 2-1 defeat in the 2006 final.
Campbell had been keeping the in-form Falcao quiet ever since an early saving tackle but the striker showed his predatory instinct in the move that decided the game.
Given close attention on the edge of the area, Hulk eliminated his marker with a deft chip and produced a vicious volley that Fabiański had to dive low to keep out.
Porto go to London on 9 March with the advantage but will be well aware that their two trips to Arsenal since 2006, both in the group stage, resulted in 2-0 and 4-0 defeats.

Manchester United 3-2 AC Milan


Ronaldinho gave Milan a dream start but Paul Scholes hit a fortunate equaliser (36) and Wayne Rooney added two more before Clarence Seedorf left the tie in the balance.
Darren Fletcher's cross evaded Scholes' air shot, hit his standing leg and rolled in off the post – not pretty, but enough to help end a run of four defeats at San Siro.
Daniele Bonera recently returned after eight months out injured, but there was no rustiness in two exquisite first-half tackles to halt attacks from Ji-Sung Park and Rooney.
Rooney looked set for an unusually frustrating night as Thiago Silva kept him subdued throughout the first half – but the striker can only be keep quiet for so long.
Four times a European champion, Seedorf has always had fine timing and showed it again with time running out, applying an exquisite flick to Ronaldinho's centre.
Milan's hopes rest on becoming only the second team to win at Old Trafford in 25 games in this competition on 10 March. They did it last time, prevailing 1-0 in 2004/05.

Lyon 1-0 Real madrid


A thunderous strike from Jean II Makoun two minutes after half-time proved the only goal of a vibrant contest as Lyon defeated Madrid at the Stade de Gerland for the third time in five years.
Although César Delgado hit the Madrid post with a wonderful first-time volley just before half-time, the French side were grateful for Hugo Lloris' spectacular save from Cristiano Ronaldo to keep their lead intact.
Iker Casillas made his 100th UEFA Champions League appearance for Madrid and marked the occasion with a series of fine saves, particularly a late block from Aly Cissokho.
One on one
While Casillas produced a characteristically reliable display, opposite number Lloris was in more eye-catching form, denying Kaká and Gonazalo Higuaín – more will be needed at the Santiago Bernabéu.
Substitute Karim Benzema was given a warm reception on his return to the Stade de Gerland, although the former Lyon favourite struggled to make an impression against his old team-mates.
Madrid have it all to do if there are to avoid a sixth successive first knockout round defeat and will be without the suspended Marcelo and Xabi Alonso for the second leg on 10 March.

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