Lyon matched the feats of Arsenal, Bayern Munich, Chelsea and Real Madrid on Wednesday by racking up their third win from three games in the UEFA Champions League group stage.
The evening’s most spectacular entertainment came at the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza, where Inter Milan and visitors Tottenham Hotspur served up a feast of goals in a rollercoaster encounter before Inter finally ran out 4-3 winners.
As for Barcelona, they were made to work hard for a 2-0 victory against Copenhagen that took them top of their group, which is also where Manchester United sit in their section following a relatively comfortable 1-0 home defeat of Bursaspor.
The big game
Barcelona 2-0 Copenhagen
Goals: Lionel Messi 19 90+2
Up against the Group D leaders, Barcelona quickly settled into their trademark one-touch style, with some delightful combinations being engineered between Andres Iniesta and Lionel Messi. Not for the first time, the diminutive Argentinian forward then made the difference for his side thanks to a blistering strike from 20 metres out that whistled into the top corner. That goal was all Barça had to show for their dominance at half-time though. Most guilty of failing to bury his chances was David Villa, who cracked one effort against the crossbar but is yet to fully find his feet with his new club, or rediscover his sparkling goalscoring form from the 2010 FIFA World Cup™. Seemingly in awe of their opponents before the break, Copenhagen nonetheless began crafting openings and connected with the woodwork themselves through Senegalese striker Dame N'Doye. He and his colleagues were ultimately left wondering what might have been as Messi sealed the result from point-blank range in added time, leaving the Catalan club looking more than ever reliant on his input.
The other games
Reigning European champions Inter flirted with disaster after having given themselves the perfect platform against Tottenham. The game could hardly have started better for Rafael Benitez’s men as they hit three goals inside the opening 14 minutes, a punishing spell for the English outfit in which they also lost goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes to a red card. Samuel Eto’o was running the match in the opening 45 minutes and helped himself to a pair of assists in addition to his two strikes. Those goals took him to the top of the scoring charts on six, but as soon as Inter took their foot off the pedal their ten-man rivals surged back into contention. Exciting young Welsh talent Gareth Bale spearheaded the fightback, plundering a hat-trick that left Benitez longing for the final whistle. Despite the dramatic finish, the Nerazzurri held on to move three points clear in Group A. Elsewhere in the pool, Twente and Werder Bremen played out a 1-1 draw after former Twente man Marko Arnautovic levelled for the German club.
In Group B, Lyon continued their perfect start courtesy of a 2-0 triumph over a Benfica side that were down to ten players for the entire second half following Nicolas Gaitan’s dismissal. Jimmy Briand and Lisandro Lopez buried the goals for the French contenders to move them another big step closer to qualification. Over in Germany, meanwhile, 33-year-old Raul harked back to his glory days with a double for Schalke in their 3-1 defeat of Hapoel Tel-Aviv. The former Spanish international now boasts 69 goals from 135 outings at this level.
A cracking Nani shot from distance proved enough for Manchester United to see off Bursaspor on home soil as their visitors never once threatened to prevent them from taking pole position in Group C. In contrast, there was action at both ends in Glasgow, but most of it came from American midfielder Maurice Edu, who gave Rangers a first-half lead via a powerful header only to nod past his own goalkeeper during a spell of Valencia pressure after the restart. The 1-1 draw between the two sides leaves their return encounter in Spain looking crucial in the race to finish second in the section.
The second match in Group D proved largely uneventful as Panathinaikos and Rubin Kazan were made to settle for a goalless stalemate that suited neither party. Hosts Panathinaikos had to wait until added time to finally look threatening but were still unable to make the breakthrough.
2,000 – United manager Sir Alex Ferguson was toasting his 2,000th match as a manger on Wednesday. Having kicked off his career with a 17-game spell at modest Scottish outfit East Stirlingshire, Sir Alex went on to oversee 169 fixtures with St Mirren and 459 with Aberdeen, not to mention ten with the Scottish national team, before commencing his long and distinguished reign at Old Trafford. The Bursaspor win was his 1,345th encounter in charge of the Red Devils.
Goal of the night
Inter Milan 4-3 Tottenham (Javier Zanetti 2)
The game was less than two minutes old when holders Inter stunned their visitors with a flowing collective move kicked off by captain Javier Zanetti. The Argentinian veteran found Philippe Coutinho on the left and his team-mate then picked out Samuel Eto’o, who released a superbly weighted pass into the area for Zanetti to run on to. Meeting the ball perfectly, the veteran opened his body and lifted an unstoppable shot over the onrushing goalkeeper and into the far corner to become the oldest goalscorer in the history of the competition at 37 and 71 days. The previous benchmark was set by current France coach Laurent Blanc, who found the net in a 3-2 win for Manchester United against Olympiacos at the age of 36 and 338 days on 23 October 2002.
Tuesday 2 November 2010
Group A: Tottenham-Inter Milan, Werder Bremen-Twente
Group B: Benfica-Lyon, Hapoel Tel-Aviv-Schalke
Group C: Bursaspor-Manchester United, Valencia-Rangers
Group D: Copenhagen-Barcelona, Rubin Kazan-Panathinaikos
Have your say
How many goals will Inter and Tottenham muster between them when they meet again in London?