English clubs stroll, Italians toil
A torrid night for Juventus constituted the one genuine surprise as Matchday 2 of the UEFA Champions League kicked off on Tuesday, even if the Serie A giants eventually salvaged a 2-2 draw away against impressive Belarussian outfit BATE Borisov. That turned out to be one of the evening's highest-scoring encounters, with only 17 goals registered overall at an average of little more than two per game.
Real Madrid, meanwhile, are the only team so far to have won both their fixtures, after collecting maximum points at Zenit St Petersburg. With that statistic in mind, this year's competition could well prove one of the most open for a long time.
Match of the day
Zenit St. Petersburg 1-2 Real Madrid
Goals: Tomas Hubocan 4 o.g., Ruud van Nistelrooy 32 (Real Madrid); Danny 25 (Zenit)
Real's extensive European experience and another brilliant night's work from goalkeeper Iker Casillas made the difference for the Spanish champions in what looked to be a real test on paper. Up against their talented and attack-minded Russian opponents, Real began the encounter in perfect fashion, opening the scoring after merely four minutes as Slovakian defender Tomas Hubocan put through his own net. The home side took a moment to recover from that setback, but eventually strung together a number of attacks and drew level with 25 minutes gone when Portugal's Danny turned in Andrei Arshavin's cross for Zenit's first ever Champions League goal. Their celebrations were short-lived, however, as wily old hand Ruud van Nistelrooy pounced on a fresh defensive error to grab his 55th strike in the competition just seven minutes later. Zenit applied incredible pressure in the final half-hour, but either their finishing let them down badly or Casillas challenged the laws of physics to keep them at bay.
Surprise of the day
BATE Borisov 2-2 Juventus
Goals: Serguei Krivets 17, Igor Stasevich 25 (BATE); Vincenzo Iaquinta 30, 45+2 (Juventus)
After 25 minutes in Belarus, Juventus found themselves trailing 2-0 to their hosts and could have few complaints about the scoreline. Unbeaten in their domestic league, BATE offered up some pleasing, attacking football and Austrian goalkeeper Alex Manninger - standing in for the injured Gianluigi Buffon - was in no way to blame for either effort. The first came courtesy of Serguei Krivets following a one-on-one with Manninger, while the second was headed in when Igor Stasevich got the better of Pavel Nedved. In spite of this, the Bianconeri refused to accept defeat, and clawed their way back courtesy of excellent duo Sebastian Giovinco and Vincenzo Iaquinta. Before the first half was out, Juve were level again.
Defending champions Manchester United recorded a 3-0 victory at Aalborg without ever really breaking into a sweat. Dimitar Berbatov hit his first two goals for the club, and Wayne Rooney thundered in the other effort as United went top of Group E. Elsewhere in the section, Villarreal had to wait for more than an hour before UEFA EURO 2008 winner Marcos Senna found a way onto the scoresheet at home against Celtic, his free kick from 30 metres eventually proving enough to down opponents who were stout in defence but limited on the break.
In Group F, meanwhile, Bayern Munich blew hot and cold at the Allianz Arena, where they were completely dominated by enterprising visitors Lyon in the opening period. The French champions fully deserved to take the lead when they did, even if the breakthrough came when Bayern's Martin Demichelis headed a Juninho Pernambucano free kick into his own net. That said, the Bundesliga titans came out a totally different side after the break. Seemingly liberated, they equalised when Ze Roberto met Miroslav Klose's cross with a majestic header, and the 1-1 outcome was a fair reflection of the preceding 90 minutes.
For their part, Fiorentina failed to unlock a solid Steaua Bucharest defence and were perhaps fortunate not to concede themselves when Antonio Paulo Semedo frayed Viola nerves with a dangerous counter-attack. Adrian Mutu enjoyed the best chance for the Serie A side, but was only able to strike a post with his shot.
The headline match in Group G turned into a perfect evening for Arsenal and their fans, as strike partners Emmanuel Adebayor and Robin van Persie blew holes in Porto's rearguard. Both were on target twice in a performance dripping with pace and style that ended 4-0 for the Gunners. Elsewhere in the same section, Fenerbahce and Dinamo Kiev played out a far less memorable affair and left the pitch to whistles with the score 0-0 at full time.
12 - The number of games Porto have gone without winning in England, a tally that includes 11 defeats. Their sole draw, a 1-1 stalemate with Manchester United in March 2004, came during their most recent European Cup-winning season.
Goal of the night
Arsenal 1-0 Porto
Robin van Persie 31
Emmanuel Adebayor pulled off a perfect one-two with Cesc Fabregas and, despite being at full pelt, the Togolese tormentor managed to cut a low pass back across goal for Robin van Persie to nip in at the near post for Arsenal's opener.
What they said
"We experienced a nightmarish first half an hour. The BATE players were running around as if there were 22 of them. For their second goal, we were really naïve. Luckily, we held out after that and fought back," Juventus coach Claudio Ranieri
Have your say
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