Europe's biggest names suffered mixed fortunes during the fourth round of matches in this season's UEFA Champions League. Neutral fans were happy, however, with 52 goals being scored in the 16 matches (21 during Tuesday's games, 31 on Wednesday), at an average of just over three per game!
Arsenal (Group B) and Lyon (Group F) were among the headliners, with both teams now already qualified for the next phase after winning their first four games. Barcelona (Group C), who thrashed Panathinaikos 5-0 thanks to a hat-trick from Samuel Eto'o, currently boast the most prolific attack with 11 goals. The Catalans have qualified for the next round, as have their arch rivals from Madrid. Despite losing to Lyon 0-3 in the opening round of games, Real (Group F) are through to the second phase after winning 2-0 in Rosenborg.
Thierry Henry was once again to the fore in Arsenal's 3-0 win over Sparta Prague, but the highlight of the evening was indisputably Lyon, who beat Greek side Olympiakos 4-1 away, after finding themselves 0-1 down after three minutes. As Henry did for Arsenal, so Brazilian Juninho got his team heading in the right direction, converting a direct free-kick in the 22nd minute to get Lyon on level terms, before turning provider later on with an assist from another set piece.
AC Milan, on the other hand, lost 1-0 in The Netherlands to PSV Eindhoven, meaning that they failed to find the net in 180 minutes of football against a Dutch team which lost two of its star players (Van Bommel and Park) before the season began. This despite the fact that Carlo Ancelotti has an embarrassment of riches up front, with Alberto Gilardino, Filippo Inzaghi, Christian Vieri and Andryi Shevchenko to choose from.
Manchester in the mire
Manchester United are another club currently in the doldrums, following up a 1-4 thrashing at Middlesbrough in the Premier League with a defeat at the Stade de France by last season's French runners-up Lille. The club from the North of France have managed to rack up five points, despite scoring only one goal in four games. Without Roy Keane and Paul Scholes in the line-up, the Red Devils seem to have no conduit between defence and attack and are struggling to play their football.
AC Milan and Manchester United are both third of their groups (D and E), and therefore desperately need a win on 23 November, at Fenerbahce (last in Group E) and at home to Villareal (top of Group D) respectively. Speaking of Villareal, the Spanish "yellow submarines" won 1-0 in Lisbon against Benfica to record their first ever Champions League victory.
Juventus (Group A) got back to winning ways thanks to goal-getter David Trezeguet. Having lost the away match 2-1 in Munich and taken a beating on Saturday in the San Siro, the Old Lady of Turin got a spring back in her step by turning the tables on Bayern, 2-1. Fabio Capello hailed Trezeguet's performance, calling him "the best striker in the world" after a brace of goals which put him 10th in Juve's all-time scoring list on 106, two more than his illustrious fellow Frenchman Michel Platini, who notched 104.
Goals aplenty in Group C
Match of the day was undoubtedly in Bremen, where it looked as though Werder were strolling to victory, leading Udinese 3-0 some five minutes into the second half. Within the space of six minutes, however, the Italians had taken advantage of some slack play by the Germans to draw level, in what must be some kind of record. Bremen regained the lead seven minutes later, however, this time for good, with playmaker Johan Micoud scoring his second to make the final score 4-3. Group C seems to be a happy hunting ground for goal-scorers - with 12 scored in two matches last night (seven in Bremen, five in Barcelona) - one short of the Champions League record.
As for the current Champions League holders, Liverpool quietly moved to the top of Group G with a comfortable 3-0 win over Anderlecht. Should they avoid defeat at home to Real Betis in their next game, they will qualify for the next phase - a result which would take the pressure off them before they have to go to Chelsea on the final evening. José Mourinho's men surprisingly went down to a 1-0 defeat in Seville, despite the fact that Betis were struggling with injuries.
Finally, in Group H, Inter Milan were grateful to their Argentinean super-sub Julio Ricardo Cruz, whose two goals (75' pen. and 82') gave them a 2-1 win over Porto, relegating the former European champions to last place in their group. It was of little consolation to the 2004 Champions League winners that Hugo Almeida's 35-yard free-kick was the finest goal of the day.