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Thursday, September 15, 2011

Champions League Week 1 Review : Shock Defeat for Inter as Barca, Arsenal, Man United Draw while Madrid and Chelsea Register Wins

The 2011/12 UEFA Champions League season kicked off in earnest Tuesday night with defending champions Barcelona hosting seven-time winners AC Milan at the Nou Camp. The Catalans started the match on the worst way possible conceding a goal just 24seconds after kickoff.

Brazilian hitman Alexander Pato exposed Barca’s makeshift defensive partnering of Sergio Busquets and Javier Mascherano who were precariously playing high up the field, outpaced them before slotting the ball between Victor Valdez’s legs to give the Rossoneri the lead.

Milan, perhaps unsurprisingly, resorted to a defensive game and Barca found the eight-man defensive wall hard to break until a moment of magic from Lionel Messi saw whiz past three defenders before squaring for Pedro to tap in the equalizer.

David Villa put the Catalans ahead with a sensational freekick in the second half but Thiago Silva headed late on to secure the Italian champions a 2-2 draw. In another encounter in the group, Czech Republic’s FC Viktoria Plzen, making their first appearance in the Champions League, took the lead at home to Belarus side BATE Borisov courtesy of a Marek Bakos first half strike but Renan Bressan equalised in the second half to force a 1-1 draw.

Arsenal also thought they were cruising to victory against Bundesliga champions Borrusia Dortmund until Ivan Perisic hit a delightful volley in the 88th minute to tie the match 1-1. Robin Van Persie scored for Wenger’s side in the first half. Marseille had a successful outing at Olympiakos winning by a solitary Lucho Gonzalez goal to take the lead in the group.

In Group E, Fernando Torres failed to score for Chelsea but registered two assists under his belt. David Luiz benefited from Nando’s first assist and fellow Spaniard Juan Mata scored the second as the London club overcame Bayer Leverkusen 2-0. Belgian outfit Racing Genk earned a 0-0 stalemate against Valencia in the other group encounter.

Other matches on Tuesday night saw Ukraine's Shakhtar Donetsk surrender an early lead away to Portugal's Porto who staged a comeback to win the match 2-1. Brazilian Luiz Adriano opened the scoring for Shakhtar but Hulk levelled before half-time and Pinheiro Kleber hit the winner after the interval. Gustavo Manduca and Ailton were both on target for Cypriot side APOEL Nicosia as they registered a 2-1 comeback win over Zenit St. Petersburg, the Cypriot side's first ever victory in the Champions League. Konstantin Zyryanov had given the Russian champions the lead in the 63rd minute.

The shock result on Wednesday night football came from the San Siro stadium where 2010 champions Inter Milan were humbled 1-0 by Trabzonspor. A late strike from Ondrej Celustka coupled by some fine goalkeeping from Tolga Zengin gave the Turkish side who replaced Fenerbahce in the group stages a famous win.

Lille and CSKA Moscow shared an entertaining 2-2 draw at the Stade Lille Metropole. The home team looked to be cruising to victory after Mousa Sow netted the opener late in the first half and Benoit Pedretti doubled the lead early in the second half but Seydou Doumba scored a brace including a goal in the dying minutes to earn the Russians a draw.

Two first half grandstand finishes from Benfica’s Oscar Cardozo and Man United’s Ryan Giggs saw the two teams share the spoils at the Estadio da Luz. In the group's other match, Switzerland’s Basel needed a late Alexander Frei penalty to beat Romanian newcomers Otelul Galati 2-1 as both teams ended the match with 10 men.

A goal from Toni Kroos and Rafinha in either side of the half earned Bayern Munich a 2-0 win over Villareal in the group of death. Frenchman Frank Ribbery provided Kroos with the assist to score the opener just seven minutes into the match and Rafinha’s solo run in the 76th minute saw him slot past Diego Lopez in the Submarine’s goal to give the Bavarians a vital win. Mega-rich Manchester City earned a 1-1 draw with Napoli on their Champions league debut. Edinson Cavani drew the first blood for the Italians in the 69th minute but Aleksandar Koralov saved the Citizen’s blushes with a free kick five minutes later.

Angel Fabian Di Maria scored the only goal for Real Madrid as they paid a visit to Dinamo Zagreb. Marcelo provided the assist but was sent off later after earning his second booking.  Lyon and Ajax shared a scoreless draw at the Amsterdam Arena.

The games will resume on Tuesday September 27.

And That's thesteifmastertake!!