The third round of matches in the UEFA Champions League group stage began with a raft of unexpected results on Tuesday, and a healthy dose of goals thrown in for good measure. No fewer than 31 goals were registered in eight games as just one home side and five away teams clinched victory, including newcomers Rubin Kazan at reigning champions Barcelona.
Only Spanish outfit Sevilla lived up to their billing as favourites, while both Liverpool and Inter Milan will need to start winning soon to avoid premature exits from this year's competition.
Liverpool 1-2 Lyon
Debrecen 3-4 Fiorentina
Inter Milan 2-2 Dynamo Kiev
Barcelona 1-2 Rubin Kazan
Stuttgart 1-3 Sevilla
Rangers 1-4 Unirea Urziceni
AZ Alkmaar 1-1 Arsenal
Olympiakos 2-1 Standard Liege
Contesting only their third ever match in Europe, Russian champions Rubin put together a performance brimming with vigour and technique as they took on the European champions at their own game. Given an early jolt by Alexander Ryazantsev's sublime strike from 30 metres out, Barcelona struggled to get going and failed to develop their usual sharp passing game as their opponents pressed them high up the pitch. Not even an exquisitely taken equaliser from Zlatan Ibrahimovic dented the visitors' belief and they avoided falling into the trap of lying deep by continuing to take the game to the Catalan giants. Their reward came in the form of Gokdeniz Karadeniz's winner at the end of a well-worked break, he and his colleagues having proved the more audacious team all evening.
Rangers must have thought they were well on the road to victory when they worked their way into the lead after barely two minutes, but they allowed their opponents to take the initiative after that and were soon counting the cost. Romanian champions Unirea ultimately came away with a comfortable win as everything seemed to come off for them, no matter how difficult the move or how optimistic the shot.
The other games
Supporters of Debrecen and Fiorentina witnessed a veritable festival of goals in Budapest as two sides committed to attacking conjured six goals between them in the opening 45 minutes. The Hungarian hosts took the prize for best goals scored but their defence was once again found wanting and Fiorentina eventually secured a 4-3 triumph in which football was perhaps the clearest winner. Elsewhere in Group E, Lyon consolidated their lead over the rest of the section with a merited 2-1 success at Liverpool, where the Reds showed the same lack of determination and invention that has plagued their recent Premier League outings. The winning goal came in added time as Cesar Delgado steered in an excellent centre from Sidney Govou.
Inter Milan have forgotten how to win in the Champions League and although they enjoyed the better of the second-half chances during their meeting with Dynamo Kiev, they should perhaps feel relieved to have come away with a 2-2 draw. Their Ukrainian rivals made the most of their openings and caused Jose Mourinho's troops no end of trouble with their attack-minded first-half display.
In Group G, Sevilla left further evidence of their strength by compiling a 3-1 victory over Stuttgart in Germany. The Spanish Liga high-flyers were superior in every department as they celebrated their third consecutive win in the section, with defender Sebastien Squillaci heading two of their goals as they took a giant stride closer to the knockout phase.
On top for an hour thanks to a Cesc Fabregas strike, Arsenal were made to settle for a 1-1 draw at AZ Alkmaar after conceding in added time. Italian striker Graziano Pelle knocked the ball down for David Mendes Da Silva to power in a splendid last-gasp volley. In the other Group H game, Olympiakos fell behind at home to Standard Liege but restored parity through Kostantinos Mitroglou close to half-time. Substitute Ieroklis Stoltidis then nodded a stoppage-time winner that advanced the Greek club's claims to a berth in the last 16.
8 - The number of successive Champions League matches Inter have now played without recording a win. Their three outings this term have all ended in draws.
Goal of the night
Debrecen 2-4 Fiorentina (Gergely Rudolf 28)
Gergely Rudolf broke down the left flank and, with three Fiorentina defenders giving him close attention, he checked his run, cut inside and took his time before curling a delicious right-footed shot high into the far corner of the net.
Key matchday 4 encounters
Group E: Lyon-Liverpool. Another loss for the Reds would leave them staring at elimination.
Group F: Rubin Kazan will be looking to prove their win away against Barcelona was no fluke, while Inter can expect another tough test in Ukraine as the ever-ambitious Andriy Shevchenko aims to steer Dynamo Kiev to victory.
Have your say
Can Liverpool arrest their slide and qualify for the last 16?