On a night of few scares for the top sides, Bayern Munich, Chelsea, Spartak Moscow, Real Madrid, Arsenal and Shakhtar Donetsk all made it two wins out of two to take significant strides towards the knockout phase of the UEFA Champions League.
Seven-time European champions AC Milan failed to join them, however, when they were held to a 1-1 draw by Ajax in Amsterdam. FIFA.com picks out the highlights of a night on which seven of the 21 goals were scored by Brazilian players.
The big game
Ajax Amsterdam 1-1 AC Milan
Goals: Mounir El Hamdaoui 23 (Ajax); Zlatan Ibrahimovic 37 (AC Milan)
This enticing Group G meeting lived up to expectations as Milan’s redoubtable old guard, headed by Gennaro Gattuso and Clarence Seedorf, pitted their wits against the spark and invention of Ajax’s front duo of Luis Suarez and Mounir El Hamdaoui. The Uruguayan livewire had a big hand in the opening goal of the night, nutmegging veteran defender Alessandro Nesta before squaring the ball to his Moroccan sidekick, who, with his back to goal, spun sharply and fired the ball past Christian Abbiati from close range.
Keeping their heads despite Robinho’s failure to convert two excellent chances, the Italians were level within a quarter of an hour. Seedorf was the provider, lofting the ball into the box for Zlatan Ibrahimovic - a former fan’s favourite at the Amsterdam Arena - to stab past Maarten Stekelenburg at close range. Using their greater experience wisely after the break, Milan ended the stronger of the two sides and can be content with their evening’s work.
The other games
Weakened by injuries, Bayern Munich were indebted to a match-winning performance from Bastian Schweinsteiger as they saw off Basel in Group E. The German international pulled the visitors level from the spot after Alexander Frei had put the Swiss ahead with a sublime strike, and then popped up unmarked at the far post to steer home Holger Badstuber’s free-kick two minutes from time.
Held in check for 69 minutes by Cluj’s Portuguese goalkeeper Nuno Claro, section rivals Roma scored twice in three minutes to seal three precious points and atone for their opening-day defeat to Bayern. French centre-half Philippe Mexes fired in from a corner to break the deadlock, with Marco Borriello hooking in a fine goal moments later. Ionut Rada’s late header proved nothing more than a consolation for the Romanians.
Chelsea and Spartak Moscow are sitting pretty in Group F with six points apiece. Making light of the absence of several first-teamers, the Blues chalked up a routine 2-0 win over a Marseille side still struggling to recapture their form of last season. Both Chelsea’s goals came from set-pieces, John Terry flicking them in front from a corner before Nicolas Anelka completed the scoring from the spot. Earlier in the day Spartak’s Brazilian contingent made short work of Slovakian debutants Zilina. Midfielder Alex set up compatriot Ari for the Muscovites’ opening two goals before fellow countryman Ibson got in on the act with a third late on.
Real Madrid moved to the top of Group G after earning the narrowest of victories against an Auxerre side not afraid to take the game to their illustrious guests. Argentinian winger Angel di Maria snuffed out the French side’s resistance with nine minutes remaining, chesting down Alvaro Arbeloa’s cross at the far post and lashing the ball home.
Arsenal and Shakhtar Donetsk won again to stand well clear in Group H. Andrey Arshavin, Marouane Chamakh and Sebastien Squillaci were all on target as the Gunners secured an impressive 3-1 win at Partizan Belgrade, with both sides missing second-half penalties. The Ukrainians joined Arsene Wenger’s men on six points after a Luiz Adriano double helped them to a comfortable 3-0 victory at Sporting Braga, who have it all to do if they are to progress to the knockout phase.
150 - John Terry scored Chelsea’s 150th goal in Europe’s premier club competition when he put his side ahead against Marseille. The Londoners are the fourth English club to pass the milestone after Manchester United (411), Liverpool (317) and Arsenal (228).
Goal of the night
Basel 1-0 Bayern Munich, Alexander Frei 18
Harried by two defenders as he surged into the left-hand side of the Bayern box, Marco Streller exquisitely backheeled the ball into the path of the onrushing Alexander Frei, who gave visiting goalkeeper Hans-Jorg Butt no chance with a curling shot into the far corner of the net.
Groups E to H are next in action on Tuesday 19 October:
Group E: Roma-Basel, Bayern Munich-Cluj
Group F: Spartak Moscow-Chelsea, Marseille-Zilina
Group G: Ajax Amsterdam-Auxerre, Real Madrid-AC Milan
Group H: Braga-Partizan Belgrade, Arsenal-Shakhtar Donetsk
Have your say
Can Chelsea win all their games in Group F?