Ze Roberto saves Bayern from Lyon´s clutches

Ze Roberto's second half goal earned Bayern Munich a 1-1 draw against French giants Lyon to keep Jurgen Klinsmann's side top of Group F in the Champions League.

Lyon went ahead when Bayern's Argentina international Martin Demichelis headed in Brazilian playmaker Juninho's long range freekick for a 25th minute own goal.

That was the last thing Klinsmann's team needed after two successive losses in the Bundesliga but their blushes were saved in the 52nd minute.

Miroslav Klose crossed from the right for the Brazilian to head in with Lyon keeper Hugo Lloris unable to keep the ball out despite getting a hand to it.

“I think it's a good result,” reflected Lyon's Juninho on France's TF1 television station.

“Any regrets? Yes and no because we played against a side that put up a super second half performance, while I reckon we were better in the first.”

The stalemate at the Allianz Arena lifted leaders Bayern on to four points after their opening win over Steaua Bucharest, who drew with Fiorentina on Tuesday.

Lyon are lying in third on two points.

Tue 30 Sep, 2008
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Feeble Fiorentina held by Steaua to bore draw

Fiorentina lacked spark and immagination as they failed to break down Romanian outfit Steaua Bucharest in a drab Champions League 0-0 draw here on Tuesday.

The Italians will feel like it was two points lost against a side – coached by former Romanian international Mario Lacatus who spent a season at 'La Viola' as a player – that presented a formidable wall in front of their goal and played with discipline and determination.

Fiorentina have two points from two Group F games – having drawn with French champions Lyon in their opener – with the 1986 European champions a point behind them and propping up the group.

A draw was a fair result in a match where neither side created anything more than half chances.

Fiorentina's Romanian forward Adrian Mutu, a former player with Steaua's bitter city rivals Dinamo Bucharest, was jeered heartily by the visiting fans but almost punished them after nine minutes, latching onto a long ball over the top from Mario Santana but blazing his volley over the bar.

Two minutes later and Steaua's Colombian goalkeeper Robinson Zapata rushed out to block a shot from Alberto Gilardino, who also had a strike blocked by Dorin Goian moments later.

Goian then freed Antonio Semedo with a long ball over top but the Portuguese forward slotted his shot wide on 16 minutes.

Both sides were lacking quality in the final third and after a Martin Jorgensen slip let in Semedo again, he crossed poorly and Banel Nicolita's shot from the edge of the box was blocked.

Semedo was enjoying much success down the Steaua left and he beat Jorgensen again before hitting his shot into the side netting.

Jorgensen had had such a torrid time that Fiorentina coach Cesare Prandelli replaced him at the break with Luciano Zauri.

But two minutes later Steaua came close as Colombian forward Dayro Moreno burst through only to have his shot blocked by two defenders.

Halfway through the second period Mutu clipped the outside of the post with a brilliant curling free-kick, which he himself had won with a terrible dive.

Mutu came close again 10 minutes later as he peeled off to the back post and headed a cross from substitute Zdravko Kuzmanovic into the side netting.

But the visitors were gifted a chance on 78 minutes as a terrible back header from La Viola captain Dario Dainelli released Nicolita who crossed for Semedo but goalkeeper Sebastien Frey brilliantly kept out his shot with his legs.

The last chance, in injury time, went to Steaua's Greek substitute Pantelis Kapetanos who was through on the right but he took a heavy touch allowing Italy defender Alessandro Gamberini to charge across and block.

Tue 30 Sep, 2008
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Arsenal back on track as Porto suffer the backlash

Arsenal produced the perfect response after their Hull humiliation as Arsene Wenger's side routed Porto 4-0 in the Champions League on Tuesday.

The Gunners were able to erase the bitter memory of their worst result for years thanks to an impressive display against the Portuguese champions at the Emirates Stadium.

Just four days earlier, Wenger had pounded the turf in frustration as Premier League newcomers Hull outfought his team, but this time the Arsenal manager was all smiles as Porto suffered the backlash.

Dutch striker Robin van Persie opened the scoring and Emmanuel Adebayor added the second before half-time to put Arsenal on course for their first Group G victory.

Van Persie made it three soon after the interval before Togo forward Adebayor stroked home a penalty to complete the rout.

Wenger knows Arsenal's ability has never been in doubt. Now he will demand they show this kind of desire every week rather than just on the big occasions.

“It is the response I wanted. Maybe it was our most complete performance this season,” Wenger said. “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 I didn't want to give a feeling that you punish one player more than another. Sometimes you have to give a team a chance to respond quickly.

“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.”

If Wenger needed any reassurance that Arsenal would get back on track, he could take heart from Porto's failure to win any of their previous 11 visits to England.

After accusing his players of under-estimating Hull, Wenger was looking for a reaction and there was a noticeable fizz about Arsenal in the early stages.

Van Persie almost gave them the perfect start with a curling effort that had Porto keeper Helton at full stretch.

But it was Arsenal's defence which let them down most against Hull and there was another sign of their frailty when Cristian Rodriguez found space to direct a diving header onto the crossbar.

Cesc Fabregas's sublime lofted pass dissected the Porto rearguard moments later, but van Persie couldn't find enough accuracy with his volley to beat Helton.

Porto were content to sit back and launch occasional counter-attacks. From one raid Lisandro forced Manuel Almunia to make a superb save.

Lisandro went even closer from the resulting set-piece as the Argentine forward beat Alumunia, only for Gael Clichy to clear off the line.

Arsenal took full advantage of that reprieve to open the scoring in the 31st minute.

Adebayor beat Porto's offside trap to collect an astute pass from Fabregas and the Togo striker crossed low for van Persie, timing his run perfectly, to convert at the near post.

Wenger's side were moving smoothly into top gear now and Van Persie turned provider for their second goal in the 40th minute.

Adebayor showed the desire Wenger had demanded as he rose highest to head van Persie's corner past Helton via the crossbar.

If Arsenal were less than convincing in defence that was nothing compared to Porto. Jesualdo Ferrerira's side were a shambles at the back and it was no surprise when a calamitous attempt to clear ended with another Arsenal goal in the 48th minute.

Theo Walcott was gifted the ball and his flick found van Persie, who punished Porto's statuesque defending with a low shot into the far corner.

Walcott should have made it four but he somehow prodded Kolo Toure's cross wide from five yards.

The Gunners were running riot and Adebayor got his second from the penalty spot in the 71st minute after Freddy Guarin up-ended Nicklas Bendtner with a clumsy challenge.

Tue 30 Sep, 2008
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More away woe for Celtic as Senna shows class

Celtic have their work cut out to qualify for the last 16 of the Champions League as their dismal European away record continued with a 1-0 Group E defeat at Villarreal on Tuesday.

Dead-ball specialist Marcos Senna, one of Spain's Euro 2008 victors, produced a trademark free-kick 23 minutes from time to break Celtic's resistance.

Celtic now have just one point from their first two matches and their next match is a daunting trip to Old Trafford to face reigning champions Manchester United on October 21.

Villarreal are locked with Manchester United on four points at the group summit and travel to group outsiders Aalborg BK on the same day.

Senna, who starred for Spain in their triumphant march to the Euro 2008 title, said that despite a good start they mustn't let up.

“Getting the three points was the most important thing tonight but we can't relax because if you go to sleep in this competition the other teams end up above you,” said the Brazilian-born midfielder.

“We dominated the second half but had to wait for the goal. Fortunately my free-kick went in.”

Celtic coach Gordon Strachan believed that for the most part his side deserved at least a point.

“After our performance in the first 55 minutes you think: 'We belong at this level',” said a dejected Strachan.

“But after 15 minutes they started to work in an area that has been giving us a problem for a while (referring to the free-kick conceded outside the penalty box).

“It was a stunning strike but the our boys were a little bit upset about the way it came about.

“Whatever, they showed what a good side they are when they went ahead.”

Celtic's travelling vertigo continues to hold them back in Europe's flagship competition with the defeat to Villarreal meaning their away record stands at 15 defeats and one draw from their five Champions League group campaigns.

Turkish forward Nihat Kahveci, last season's top-scorer, was injured for Villarreal so Jose Llorente made his Champions League bow.

With just 90 seconds gone Llorente fired a shot on the turn just over to set the tone for the first half.

Strachan entrusted the tricky Aiden McGready and Greek target-man Georgios Samaras with the task of unlocking a mean Villarreal defence that had conceded just two goals in their first five league matches.

The Glaswegian visitors soaked up pressure and there was a lot of it with former Manchester United man Giuseppe Rossi going agonisingly close twice.

Ironically for all Villarreal's pressure it was Celtic who had the best chance just minutes before the end of the first half with Samaras pouncing on a defensive slip but Diego Lopez stood tall to block his effort.

In the second half Rossi created another chance for himself with a brilliant solo run but his left-footed shot crept wide.

Strachan admitted beforehand that a draw would have been a good result and it looked like the Scot would get his wish with Villarreal running out of ideas.

However Celtic had been conceding free-kicks in and around the area and on 67 minutes Senna made one count whipping the ball over the wall past the helpess Boruc.

It meant Celtic left El Madrigal empty-handed, just like they did in their UEFA Cup quarter-final here in 2004, and they will have to pull out all the stops to reach the last 16 for a third successive season.

For Villarreal this was their first Champions League match at home since April 2006, when they drew 0-0 with Arsenal in the semi-finals of the competition, cruelly losing 1-0 on aggregate, and they look well-equipped to go on a similar run this season.

Tue 30 Sep, 2008
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Quick Report: Bayern hold Lyon, Fiorentina and Steaua forget to score

Bayern Munich came back from behind to secure a draw with Lyon, allowing them to maintain their first place in Group F. Fiorentina and Steaua failed to score.

The Germans conceded a goal after 25 minutes as the unfortunate Martin Demichelis put the ball behind his own goalkeeper Rensing to give their French guests a 0-1 lead.

But the home side would equalise through Zé Roberto, seven minutes into the second half.

Fiorentina and Steaua Bucharest forgot to score in Firenze, and remain in third and fourth place respectively.

Bayern lead with four points from two games, and Lyon are second with the same amount of points as Fiorentina, but the French scored more goals.

Tue 30 Sep, 2008
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Quick Report: Juve fight back for BATE draw

BATE Borisov let a historic win slip away on Tuesday as Juventus came from two goals down to earn a 2-2 draw in Champions League Group H play in Belarus.

The hosts took a stunning lead in the 17th minute when Sergei Kryvets bagged BATE’s first Champions League goal with a nice finish after beating Juve goalkeeper Alexander Manninger.

Even more stunning was BATE going two up just six minutes later as Igor Stasevich, who set up the opener, headed home a Pavel Nekhaychik cross.

Juve then came to life with Vincenzo Iaquinta pulling a goal back for the Italians on 29 minutes with a header off Sebastian Giovinco’s cross, and the striker levelled matters just before the first-half whistle when he slid the ball between the legs of BATE goalkeeper Sergei Veremko.

Tue 30 Sep, 2008
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Quick Report: United, Villarreal claim victories

Manchester United and Villarreal opened up a gap at the top of Champions League Group E on Tuesday with wins over AaB Aalborg and Celtic.

AaB Aalborg 0-3 Manchester United
Just minutes after coming on for an injured Paul Scholes, midfielder Ryan Giggs played a beautiful throughball that Wayne Rooney put past Aalborg ‘keeper Karim Zaza in the 22nd minute.

Dimitar Berbatov then broke his United duck on 55 minutes when he volleyed home after a blunder by Thomas Augustinussen. Berbatov added United’s third goal in the 79th minute with a fine scissor finish after Cristiano Ronaldo’s cross.

Villarreal 1-0 Celtic
A high-quality affair at El Madrigal was decided on 67 minutes when Villarreal captain Marcos Senna struck a perfect free kick past goalkeeper Artur Boruc.

The win left Villarreal on four points, behind Manchester United only on goal difference.

Tue 30 Sep, 2008
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Scotland v Argentina friendly back on after ticket deal

Scotland will take on Argentina in a friendly at Hampden Park on November 19, the Scottish Football Association (SFA) said on Tuesday.

The announcement came after Argentina agreed to lower their fee for the game in Glasgow to a level which allows the SFA to put the match on and charge fans the same for tickets as they will pay for the October 11 World Cup qualifier against Austria.

Negotiations on a potential friendly between the two countries in July collapsed after members of the Tartan Army canvassed by the SFA indicated they would be unwilling to pay higher ticket prices in order to bring Lionel Messi and co to Hampden.

Scotland head coach George Burley said he was thrilled at the prospect of facing Argentina.

“We cannot wait to test ourselves against one of the best teams in the world and look forward to our fans giving the Argentines a great Scottish Hampden welcome when they come here in November,” Burley said.

SFA chief executive Gordon Smith added: “We are very pleased that we will be able to put on the game at a pricing structure that will appeal to fans.

“We want Scotland fans to see the players pit themselves against the best in the world and there are few teams better than Argentina.

“This is going to be a great match and a fantastic occasion and I know that George and the team will put on a show that will do the country proud.”

Tue 30 Sep, 2008
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Cahill appeal over derby red card fails

Everton's Australia midfielder Tim Cahill must serve a three-match ban after failing to overturn the red card received in Saturday's Merseyside derby on appeal.

Cahill was sent off for “serious foul play” by referee Mike Riley following a studs-up challenge on Xabi Alonso in Everton's 2-0 defeat by Liverpool.

The Football Association confirmed on Tuesday that an independent regulatory commission had rejected Cahill's appeal.

Tue 30 Sep, 2008
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Roma coach Spalletti confident of crushing Bordeaux

Roma coach Luciano Spalletti is confident his side can bounce back from their shock opening Champions League defeat with a win over Bordeaux here Wednesday.

The Italians lost out to relative Romanian unknowns Cluj a fortnight ago in Rome and currently sit 10th in Serie A, but Spalletti is undeterred.

“I believe my team has already improved over the last two or three matches, said the ex-Sampdoria boss on Tuesday.

“They have shown a good attitude, correct approach, attention – all the required ingredients.

“I’m confident. When we cross difficult moments like this we have to work, be professional and try to build strong foundations.”

Standing in their way is Laurent Blanc’s improving Bordeaux side, still smarting from a four-goal footballing lesson at the hands of Chelsea in the opening game.

And while the team from the famous wine-making region also hover mid-table in their league – despite being seen as title contenders – Spalletti remains cautious.

“We know Bordeaux can play different ways, and Laurent is very well known in football,” he said.

“We know they have great potential and can get good results with beautiful play,” said Spalletti, adding that a player of particular note is Bordeaux’s rising star Yoann Gourcuff.

For two teams that have lost their opening Champions League games Wednesday’s match has become something of a must-win, and the Italians’ task will be made all the more difficult without talisman Francesco Totti.

“It is crucial for both teams to get a result. I don’t know where the match will be decided but we have the morale and the desire to do well.”

Spalletti added: “It’s true we will be missing players, but it is not important who is not there. What is important is who is available.”

Tue 30 Sep, 2008
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