Thursday, October 04, 2012

REVIEW OF UEFA CHAMPIONS LEAGUE MATCHES.


Substitute Mario Balotelli rescued Manchester City's Champions League campaign with a late penalty equaliser in a pulsating clash against Borussia Dortmund.

The German champions looked set to edge a contest dominated by both goalkeepers after Marco Reus pounced on a Jack Rodwell mistake to score just after the hour.

Dortmund looked set to hold on for a 1-0 victory, but a harsh penalty - given for a Neven Subotic handball - allowed Balotelli to equalise for a barely deserved point.


City keeper Joe Hart and his opposite number Roman Weidenfeller had both produced a string of outstanding saves to keep their respective sides in the game at the Etihad Stadium.

Arsenal appear set for an easy ride into the competition's knockout stages after they made it six points from six with a 3-1 triumph over Olympiakos at Emirates Stadium.  


The Gunners responded from the disappointment of defeat by Barclays Premier League leaders Chelsea as goals in each half from Gervinho and Lukas Podolski and a well-taken late goal from substitute Aaron Ramsey made it successive victories in Group B.

With manager Arsene Wenger watching in the stands for the second of his three-game European ban, the Gunners started brightly as the rain lashed down on north London. 


Gervinho was again deployed down the middle, ahead of England forward Theo Walcott and France international Olivier Giroud, who both watched on from the bench.

Both full-backs, Kieran Gibbs and Carl Jenkinson - potential call-ups for England - made ground down the flanks as the Greek champions were stretched. 

Mikel Arteta was deemed fit to start for the Gunners, but he failed to inspire a fast opening as Olympiakos created the most dangerous moment of the first half hour. 
Paulo Machado picked out a superbly paced pass to the edge of the Arsenal area, where Kostas Mitroglou scuffed a shot through a host of bodies to nearly surprise Vito Mannone.
Machado then threatened again when he headed over from the edge of the six-yard box, but Gervinho struck against the run of play when he drove a tame effort home from outside the area. Arsenal's joy was short-lived, though, as Mitroglou found himself in between Laurent Koscielny and Thomas Vermaelen to head beyond Mannone.
Santi Cazorla should have restored the advantage early in the second half when he stabbed his effort wide from Gervinho's cross, but the next time Gervinho caused havoc Podolski - who had barely featured all evening, swivelled and shot through keeper Balazs Megyeri in the 56th minute. Ramsey then capped off the win in injury-time.
 In another Group D game, Real Madrid made it two wins out of two as they secured a 4-1 victory at Ajax thanks to a Cristiano Ronaldo hat-trick.

The Spanish champions dominated the first half but came up against a goalkeeper in fine form, with Kenneth Vermeer making save after save, but Madrid finally went ahead three minutes before the break as Ronaldo poked home from close range.

Almost as soon as the second half kicked off they had doubled their lead, and in some style, with Karim Benzema meeting a cross with a stunning scissor kick. On 56 minutes, though, Ajax were back in it, Niklas Moisander heading home from close range from a corner.

Ajax threatened an equaliser, but Ronaldo put the game to bed with a quickfire double, first curling into the far corner on 79 minutes before, on 81 minutes, expertly chipping over Vermeer.


Former champion, AC Milan claimed a hard fought 3-2 victory at Zenit St Petersburg in a open encounter in Group C.

Milan were ahead on 13 minutes when Urby Emanuelson's free-kick took a significant deflection past goalkeeper Vyacheslav Malafeev, and the Rossoneri had doubled their lead less than five minutes later as Stephan El Shaarawy danced through the defence before sliding the ball into the corner of the net.

However, Zenit did not give up the fight and got their reward on the stroke of half-time as Hulk drilled the ball under Christian Abbiati. In the 49th minute, the scores were level, Roman Shirokov heading home from a corner.

With a quarter of an hour remaining, though, the visitors claimed the goal that secured all three points when Tomas Hubocan diverted a Riccardo Montolivo cross into his own net. The defeat brought an end to Zenit's 16-game unbeaten run in home games in Europe.


In other champions league match, Porto secured a 1-0 victory at home to big-spending Paris Saint-Germain with James Rodriguez providing a fine finish in the 83rd minute, and PSG were unable to find an equaliser while Malaga put in another impressive showing as they beat Anderlecht 3-0 in Belgium as Eliseu found the net from just outside the area, and on 57 minutes they doubled their lead when Nacho Monreal was brought down for a penalty that Joaquin placed into the top left corner of the goal. Seven minutes later, it was 3-0, with Eliseu rounding off the scoring with his second of the game.


In other matches, Schalke had to settle for a 2-2 draw at home to ten-man Montpellier, Dynamo Kiev saw off Croatian side Dinamo Zagreb 2-0.



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