UEFA Champions League review
On a rainy night across Europe, English heavyweights Manchester United and Chelsea maintained their perfect records in the group phase of the UEFA Champions League to move closer to the last 16. Elsewhere, AC Milan staged a thrilling comeback to inflict a first defeat of the season on Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu, the venue for this season's final.
Bordeaux 2-1 Bayern Munich
Juventus 1-0 Maccabi Haifa
CSKA Moscow 0-1 Manchester United
Wolfsburg 0-0 Besiktas
Zurich 0-1 Marseille
Real Madrid 2-3 AC Milan
Chelsea 4-0 Atletico Madrid
Porto 2-1 APOEL Nicosia
This classic match-up did not disappoint. On an evening when Real's star signing Kaka was reunited with his former team-mates, the Spaniards struck first, Raul seizing on an error by Milan keeper Dida to roll the ball into an empty net. With an hour on the clock and the hosts seemingly in control, the match took an unexpected turn. Trying his luck from fully 35 metres out, Andrea Pirlo saw his dipping shot surprise Iker Casillas at the near post to pull the Italians level.
And when Casillas misjudged Massimo Ambrosini's superb flighted ball over the top of the Merengue defence, livewire Brazilian forward Alexandre Pato was on hand to slide the ball into the unguarded net and give Leonardo's men the lead. Their pride stung, Real surged forward in search of an equaliser, which duly came when Rosyton Drenthe thumped a low drive past Dida from Raul's precise corner-kick.
Chances came at both ends as the pace continued to quicken, and after the two sides each had goals disallowed, that man Pato popped up with a late winner, side-footing Clarence Seedorf's delicious chipped pass into the roof of the net.
The other games
Bordeaux took a two-point lead at the top of Group A by edging an injury-ravaged Bayern Munich side 2-1. After inadvertently putting the Germans ahead with a misplaced header, Girondins defender Mickael Ciani promptly redemeed himself by levelling the score with a nonchalant back-heeled flick from a corner. Ciani's central-defensive partner Marc Planus then stole in ahead of the Bayern defence at a set-piece to stab the French champions in front. And had Hans-Jorg Butt not saved two second-half penalties, the final scoreline could have been even worse for the visitors, who had two men sent off.
Juventus moved into second place after earning a narrow 1-0 win over a bold Maccabi Haifa side. Giorgio Chiellini scored the only goal of the game with far-post header, though I Bianconeri needed a typically classy save from Gianluigi Buffon late on to cling on to the points.
Shorn of the services of several first-teamers, Manchester United drew on their vast European experience to chisel out their third straight win in Group B. Their victims on this occasion were CSKA Moscow, the only goal of the evening coming when Ecuador international Antonio Valencia fired home Dimitar Berbatov's fine flicked header four minutes from time. In the other game in the section, Wolfsburg and Besiktas cancelled each other out in a goalless draw.
While Real Madrid were tripping up at home, Marseille were doing their Group C chances a power of good by earning a valuable 1-0 win away to Zurich. Argentinian defender Gabriel Heinze's superb volley proved the difference between the sides. Despite the defeat, the fourth-placed Swiss are still in contention in a surprisingly open section.
Meanwhile, Chelsea would seem to have Group D all wrapped up after extending their 100 per cent record with a typically ruthless 4-0 win at home to struggling Atletico Madrid. Salomon Kalou set the Blues on their way with his first European double, before Frank Lampard and a Luis Perea own goal underlined their superiority on the night.
Porto weathered torrential rain and a battling performance by APOEL Nicosia to tighten their grip on second place. After falling behind early on the Portuguese hit back to secure a 2-1 victory, both goals coming from Brazilian striker Hulk, the first of them the result of a fine team move.
66 - Legendary Real Madrid forward Raul won his duel with fellow veteran gunslinger Filippo Inzaghi by scoring his 66th goal in Europe's premier club tournament. The scorer of 226 goals in La Liga, 44 for Spain and 27 in other official competitions, the No7 now has 363 career strikes to his name.
Goal of the night
Chelsea 1-0 Atletico Madrid (Salomon Kalou 40)
Chelsea's passing game finally clicked five minutes from half-time when Ashley Cole scampered in behind the Atletico defence and latched on to a blind pass by Frank Lampard. The England left-back surged towards the by-line before cutting the ball into the path of the unmarked Salomon Kalou, who side-footed home to complete a textbook move.
Key Matchday 4 encounters
Group A: Bayern Munich have no option but to go for the win when they entertain Bordeaux in a fortnight's time. The French side, on the other hand, will be happy with a draw.
Group C: The return match between continental heavyweights AC Milan and Real Madrid should prove one of the highlights of the season so far.
Have your say
Which players do you think illuminated Wednesday evening in the Champions League?
- Pato stars as Milan stun Real »
- Juventus hold on to beat Maccabi »
- Kalou double helps Chelsea stroll »
- Hulk brace enough for Porto »
- Bordeaux edge nine-man Bayern »
- Besiktas hold wasteful Wolfsburg »
- Heinze revives Marseille hopes »
- United snatch victory at CSKA »
- A night of surprises »
- Who will conquer Europe? »