United and Arsenal held at bay
© AFP

Only 12 goals were scored on Wednesday as the first round of fixtures in this season's UEFA Champions League group stage drew to a close. Reigning champions Manchester United were one of 16 teams in action, but despite last year's success they could only manage a goalless stalemate at home against Villarreal.

Elsewhere, their Premier League rivals Arsenal also struggled, leaving Kiev relieved to have collected a point after drawing with Dynamo 1-1, while Juventus headed up a long list of favourites happy with hard-fought wins.

Match of the day
Juventus 1-0 Zenit St. Petersburg
Goal: Alessandro Del Piero 76
Buoyed by their recent UEFA Super Cup win, Zenit caused their illustrious hosts problems, with Igor Denisov in superb form and Portuguese midfielder Daniel Alves involved in everything the Russian outfit did well. The two sides contested a high-quality encounter at a high tempo that gradually boiled down to a personal contest between Denisov and Alessandro Del Piero, with the Italian enjoying the last word from a direct free kick following Vyacheslav Malafeev's minor mistake. Beaten but not overwhelmed, Zenit will surely bounce back in Group H.

Surprises of the day
Manchester United 0-0 Villarreal
Manchester United seemed to be suffering a rare slump in goalscoring prowess as they tackled their second major test of the week. The European champions dominated the entire match but were unable to find their way through a solid Villarreal defence - perhaps unsurprisingly, as the Spanish side were the last team to leave Old Trafford with a point in European competition. In between, the Red Devils were able to rack up 12 consecutive victories in the continental arena.

Lyon 2-2 Fiorentina
Goals: Frederic Piquionne 73, Karim Benzema 86 (Lyon); Alberto Gilardino 12, 42 (Fiorentina)
Fiorentina must have thought they had all three points in the bag when they walked in at half-time two goals to the good at the Stade de Gerland. Former AC Milan striker Alberto Gilardino had wreaked most of the damage with a two-goal salvo that signalled his return to form, while Adrian Mutu played a significant supporting role on the comeback trail from injury. The hosts refused to yield, however, and ultimately levelled the scores through Karim Benzema four minutes before the end.

Other matches
No goals were registered in Group E, where Danish outfit Aalborg demonstrated impressive defensive resolve to resist a constant stream of Celtic attacks.

Proud authors of the evening's sole away win, meanwhile, Bayern Munich can now look down on everyone else in Group F. They owe that privilege to defender Daniel van Buyten, who struck the only goal of the game in a 1-0 success at Steaua Bucharest.

Elsewhere, Porto notched two goals in the opening 12 minutes at home against Fenerbahce, before running out 3-1 winners. That result took them to the top of Group G, where Arsenal had William Gallas to thank for a precious point secured two minutes from time at Dynamo Kiev. The Gunners totally dominated the encounter, only to be let down by some wayward finishing.

Finally, in Group H, Real Madrid recorded their 165th Champions League victory by overcoming courageous debutants BATE Borisov 2-0. The side from Belarus can nevertheless hold their heads up high after their baptism of fire at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Goal of the night
Porto 2-1 Fenerbahce
Lucho Gonzalez 12

Surging down the left, Cristian Rodriguez pulled a ball back across goal where Argentinian midfielder Lucho Gonzalez raced on to it at pace and dispatched a superb right-footed half-volley underneath the crossbar.

The stat
100 - The number of Champions League matches contested by Manchester United defender Gary Neville. His first came against IFK Goteborg on 23 November 1994, and the 33-year-old becomes the seventh player to join the century club after Raul (117), Paolo Maldini (109), Roberto Carlos (107), Ryan Giggs (105), Oliver Kahn (103) and Paul Scholes (102).

What they said
"When you feel like you could have won, it's normal to be disappointed. We need to work hard to be ready in three days' time." William Gallas, Arsenal captain

Have your say
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