Wednesday, 1 November 2006

CL: Milan & Inter win, Roma held

Tuesday 31 November
Group B - Matchday 4
An early goal from Julio Cruz was enough to secure three points for Internazionale and end battling Spartak Moscow's Champions League challenge on a freezing night in the Russian capital. Inter had only managed one win in three Group B fixtures heading into the match, and were without four leading players, including Patrick Vieira and Adriano, while Argentinian Nicolas Burdisso started at left-back ahead of Fabio Grosso. Yet it was Cruz, who remains their only scorer in this season's competition, who struck inside the first minute after a terrible mistake from Spartak defender Martin Stranzl. The result now takes Inter upto second place and 6 points.

Bayern Munich qualified for the second round of the Champions League, but failed to live up to the standards they had set in their previous three Group B games with a goalless draw against visiting Sporting Lisbon. In-form striker Roy Makaay missed the home side's best chances while Joao Moutinho hit the bar for Sporting. Despite the jeers of a disappointed full house at the Allianz Arena, Bayern will be happy with the share of the spoils which guarantees them a place in the last 16.

Group D - Matchday 4
Francesco Totti's second-half goal denied Olympiacos a much-needed victory in Tuesday's Champions League Group D showdown as hosts Roma rescued a point. Totti struck shortly after the hour mark to cancel out Julio Cesar's 19th minute header. The Roma captain made amends after his penalty kick shortly after the half-hour mark was saved by Olympiacos goalkeeper Antonios Nikopolidis. Roma now only need one point to qualify for the last 16.

In the other game, Valencia have booked their place in the next stage of the Champions League after twice coming from behind to secure a draw against Shakhtar Donetsk. The hosts raced into a first minute lead through Rodrigues Jadson, and although Fernando Morientes would equalise in the 18th minute, parity did not last long before Luis Fernandinho restored Shakhtar's lead. However, veteran defender Roberto Ayala came up with a second-half goal to earn a vital point for Valencia.

Other Results - Matchday 4
Group A: Barcelona 2-2 Chelsea, Levski Sofia 0-3 Werder Bremen.
Group C: Liverpool 3-0 Bordeaux, PSV Eindhoven 2-0 Galatasaray.

Wednesday 1 November
Group H - Matchday 4
Kaka scored a hat-trick as AC Milan all but secured a place in the knockout stages of the Champions League with an emphatic victory over Anderlecht. Anderlecht coach Franky Vercauteren had correctly anticipated that the Brazilian wizard would present the biggest threat for his team and he was right. Kaka opened the scoring in the seventh minute from the penalty spot before doubling his team's lead midway through the first half. The Brazilian international added his third of the evening in the 56th minute with a beautiful strike to bring the fans at the San Siro to their feet. Anderlecht will be glad to see the back of him because Kaka also struck against Anderlecht in the first leg that was played in Brussels. Defender Roland Juhasz reduced the deficit with a fine header on the hour mark before Alberto Gilardino added the final goal two minutes from time.

Nikolaos Liberopoulos scored a superb winner to give AEK Athens a precious victory over 10-man Lille and re-ignite the Greek team's hope of reaching the knockout stage. Liberopoulos fired in a long range shot with just 16 minutes left as Lorenzo Serra Ferrer's AEK finally broke the spirit of a brave Lille side who played for over an hour with a player less due to defender Efstathios Tavlaridis's first-half dismissal for two yellow cards. The win puts AEK on four points - a single point behind second-placed Lille - with two games remaining.

Other Results - Matchday 4
Group E: Lyon 1-0 Dynamo Kiev, Real Madrid 1-0 Steaua Bucharest.
Group F: Benfica 3-0 Celtic, FC Copenhagen 1-0 Manchester United.
Group G: Arsenal 0-0 CSKA Moscow, Hamburg 1-3 FC Porto.

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