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'We were clearly superior for the second 45 minutes'

Last updated on: October 1, 2009 

'We were clearly superior for the second 45 minutes'

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Cristiano Ronaldo scored twice to lead Real Madrid to a 3-0 win over Olympique Marseille in Champions League Group C on Wednesday.

Marseille had effectively contained their hosts until early in the second half when the Portugal winger inspired his side to three goals in six minutes.

Ronaldo raced through to break the deadlock in the 58th minute, and was then brought down for a penalty a minute later, when visiting defender Souleymane Diawara was sent off.

Kaka converted from the spot and Ronaldo slotted away the third from Karim Benzema's pass in the 64th, to leave Real with two wins from two.

Real coach Manuel Pellegrini sent out his big guns from the start with Kaka, Ronaldo and Benzema leading the line, but they saw little of the ball at first with his side struggling to find any rhythm.

Pellegrini looked a concerned figure on the edge of his technical area as the visitors comfortably held Real at bay and they carved the first clear opening when Mamadou Niang forced Iker Casillas to save in a one-on-one after 26 minutes.

"The game was evenly-balanced for 45 minutes but we were clearly superior for the second 45 minutes," Real coach Manuel Pellegrini said.

Ronaldo raised the home crowd's spirits with a couple of long-range efforts, and then just before the interval, Kaka backheeled a ball through for Benzema who was denied by a smart save from Steve Mandanda.

The game exploded into life early in second half with a classic bit of route-one football. Pepe's long ball out of defence sent Ronaldo scampering clear and he calmly put the ball underneath Mandanda.

With the crowd up a minute later, Ronaldo tore off down the left wing and evaded Gabriel Heinze only to be taken out by the covering Diawara as he cut into the area.

The Marseille defender was sent off and Kaka scored the penalty.

"It was a very harsh decision to give a penalty and then to send off our player. After the penalty the game was over for us," Marseille coach Didier Deschamps said.

"For one hour we played a good game and we had chances in the first half. I don't think the result was fair."

Pellegrini disputed Deschamps view of the penalty decision:

"I have seen the condition of Ronaldo's ankle and I don't think the referee got it wrong. We'll have to see whether he'll make it for the trip to Sevilla on Sunday.

The visitors barely had time to recover when Real sliced them open again. Benzema played a one-two with Kaka on the edge of the area and slipped the ball across the goal for Ronaldo to net at the far post.

Ronaldo was given a standing ovation as he left the pitch in the 70th minute, limping from Diawara's earlier challenge.

Marseille battled on with 10 men and Ezequiel Garay had to boot the ball off Real's line at the end, after Hatem Ben Arfa's cross-cum-shot hit the post, and rolled across the area.


Image: Real Madrid's Ronaldo celebrates his goal with his teammates Benzema and Kaka
Photographs: Reuters
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'Ryan shows this incredible youthfulness'

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Manchester United fought back from a goal down to beat a feisty VfL Wolfsburg side 2-1 and move top of Champions League Group B on Wednesday.

Midfielder Michael Carrick struck the winner 12 minutes from time after Ryan Giggs's deflected free kick had cancelled out a fine header from Bosnian striker Edin Dzeko which handed the German champions a shock lead soon after halftime.

"I thought it was a marvellous performance from us tonight," United manager Alex Ferguson told a news conference.

"They started very well. The first 15 minutes they gave us some problems and it took us some time to get a rhythm going.

"The front two are a handful, they're difficult to play against, particularly Dzeko. He was very good for them. Dealing with that sole threat isn't easy and we're quite happy to get through it with a victory."

United, seeking to reach the final for the third season in a row, started slowly and striker Michael Owen, struggling with a groin injury, had to be replaced by Dimitar Berbatov after just 20 minutes.

United's threat was limited in the opening period and the closest they came to breaking the deadlock was a Carrick shot that was blocked by Wolfsburg goalkeeper Diego Benaglio.

SHOCK LEAD

Nine minutes after the restart, Dzeko rose above Patrice Evra to nod Makato Hasebe's cross past Tomasz Kuszczak and give Wolfsburg a shock lead in their first Champions League campaign.

But Giggs's free kick flew in off the wall to pull United level and the veteran midfielder then laid the ball off for Carrick to curl it into the top corner and secure United's eighth consecutive victory in all competitions.

"Ryan shows this incredible youthfulness it's as if he's just starting his career and I don't know how many plaudits you can give him more than he has had," Ferguson said.

"You can praise him to the high heavens because he doesn't get affected by it. He's continuing like a young man and it's wonderful to see."

Wolfsburg coach Armin Veh was happy with his team's performance.

"We started well and didn't fall into the trap of standing off and sitting back. It was a very good move to create the first goal," he said.

"Overall I think we deserved a draw and we were unlucky to lose."


Image: Michael Carrick
Photographs: Reuters
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'I am not satisfied, Chelsea have to play better'

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Nicolas Anelka again provided all the firepower Chelsea needed as his first-half goal secured a 1-0 win away at APOEL Nicosia in their Champions League Group D tie on Wednesday.

The France striker, who netted the only goal in Chelsea's victory over Porto at Stamford Bridge in their tournament opener, produced a fine finish from Juliano Belletti's cross after 18 minutes.

Chelsea dominated possession for long periods but the Cypriot side threatened after the break and Petr Cech had to save with his legs after Savvas Poursaitides's shot took a deflection.

"I am not satisfied, Chelsea have to play better," said coach Carlo Ancelotti. "We made a lot of mistakes, Nicosia played very well and deserved to draw the game. But this is football.

Chelsea failed to build on their good start and APOEL, roared on by over 20,000 fans, began to stretch the Premier League side's defence in the second-half but could not find a way to beat Cech.

"I think we wasted 45 minutes," said APOEL coach Ivan Jovanovic. "It was an easy first half for Chelsea, they scored and controlled the game.

"We are satisfied with the performance of the second half, we managed to control the pace of the game. That's probably why we are a bit disappointed. We made an exceptional effort in the second half," the Serbian coach said.

Chelsea top the group with six points while APOEL have one.


Image: Nicolas Anelka
Photographs: Reuters
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'We'll have the diagnosis of Robben's injury but he said it's bad'

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Franck Ribery missed out on scoring a memorable goal as wasteful Bayern Munich were held to a goalless draw at home by Juventus in the Champions League on Wednesday.

Ribery provided the highlight of the match when he slipped craftily between two defenders in the penalty area but dinked his shot over the crossbar in the 19th minute.

Juventus also had their chances in an entertaining first half but the match went off the boil after the break.

Both teams are unbeaten after two games in Group A. Bayern have four points while Juventus, who also drew their first match at home to Girondins Bordeaux, have two.

Bayern striker Arjen Robben, signed from Real Madrid at the start of the season, limped off just before halftime while coach Louis van Gaal was involved with an angry exchange with match officials at the end.

"We'll have the diagnosis of Robben's injury tomorrow but he said he thinks it's bad," the Dutchman told reporters.

LIVELY START

Bayern left Mario Gomez, the Bundesliga's most expensive signing, on the bench but made a lively start with Ribery and Robben causing Juventus problems down the flanks.

But the hosts could not convert their openings, Thomas Mueller setting the tone as he burst through in the fourth minute only to send his shot across the face of the goal.

Miroslav Klose wasted one chance when he failed to make proper contact with Philipp Lamm's cross from the right and was close with another header before both he and Ribery squandered good opportunities on the break.

Mauro Camoranesi had Juve's best effort when his low drive was tipped away by Hans-Joerg Butt.

Bayern lost momentum after Robben went off but they should have scored just before the hour when Ribery broke down the left and sent a low ball across the face of goal which eluded three Bayern players.

Juventus, unbeaten after eight games in all competitions this season, nearly snatched all the points when Vicenzo Iaquinta went close with a hooked shot on the turn in the 81st minute.


Image: Bayern Munich's Arjen Robben is challenged by Juventus' Fabio Grosso and Mauro Camoranesi
Photographs: Reuters
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Zurich beat Milan to leave Leonardo fretting

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Hannu Tihinen's audacious flick gave FC Zurich a shock 1-0 Champions League win at AC Milan on Wednesday, piling more agony on beleaguered Rossoneri coach Leonardo.

The Finnish centre back expertly turned in a 10th minute corner with his heel while both feet were off the floor to hand the Swiss champions their first points in Group C.

Seven-times European champions Milan won at Olympique Marseille in their group opener but otherwise it has been another sorry start to the season under new boss Leonardo, with only one goal scored at home and just eight points amassed from six Serie A matches.

They again lacked penetration and were often forced to send hopeful balls into the box with even the introduction of Ronaldinho at halftime failing to have much effect.

Filippo Inzaghi had two golden chances but was consistently offside while strike partner Alexandre Pato continued to look off the pace at a half-empty San Siro, which still managed a loud chorus of whistles at halftime. Substitute Gianluca Zambrotta rattled the post in injury time and the final whistle was met by stunned silence while the Zurich players danced on the pitch.

Clarence Seedorf also went close for the hosts with fierce drives but Zurich, who lost to Milan in the UEFA Cup last term, were equally dangerous on the break and could easily have doubled their advantage.

Home defender Kakha Kaladze was booked for pulling down Tihinen at another corner but because the ball was not yet in play, the referee did not award a penalty.

Brazilian Leonardo, previously technical director at Milan, replaced Carlo Ancelotti as coach at the end of last season when the Italian moved to Chelsea but he was immediately handicapped by the sale of Kaka to Real Madrid.

Milan, who have not won the Italian scudetto since 2004, had already stuttered under Ancelotti in the two years following their 2007 Champions League triumph.

Only a few new recruits arrived in a frugal close season but owner Silvio Berlusconi has still said he is dissatisfied with their start.

Leonardo said before the game that every coach was under discussion. Milan's next two Champions League games are against Real Madrid.


Image: FC Zurich's Hannu Tihinen celebrates after scoring against AC Milan
Photographs: Reuters
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Late Porto goals sink struggling Atletico

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Two late goals earned Porto a 2-0 win over Atletico Madrid in Champions League Group D on Wednesday and continued the Spanish side's poor start to the season.

Colombian forward Radamel Falcao scored a classy back-heeled goal in the 75th minute to tilt a match which seemed headed for a draw as neither a lethargic Porto nor a struggling Atletico looked like scoring.

Missing influential midfielder Fernando through suspension, Porto could not keep possession to create a high enough tempo in the first half.

Their only clear chance came in the 11th minute when Meireles's first-time shot in the box was blocked by Ujfalusi.

Atletico rarely threatened either and their best chance came through a Porto error, Aguero pouncing on Tomas Costa's back pass but directing his powerful shot straight at Helton.

The Spanish side have yet to win a match in La Liga this season but their forward players linked up well for much of the match.

On 52 minutes that almost paid off when a fluid move led to an Ujfalusi shot which forced Helton into a good save.

Substitute Freddy Guarin almost made an immediate impact for Porto when his 67th minute shot was blocked by David De Gea.

Porto coach Jesualdo Ferreira said the midfielder's introduction may have been the key to the win.

"The way Atletico played, with four central defenders, didn't allow us to play quickly, there was never space. Guarin's entrance freed space for Meireles to widen the game and serve Hulk. That gave us the goal and allowed us to keep control," Ferreira said.

De Gea, a 19 year-old who replaced the injured Roberto in the first half, made a reflex save from a Hulk shot in the 75th minute but the ball fell back to the Brazilian striker who slipped it through for Falcao to backheel into the net.

Five minutes later, Porto's central defenders went up for a corner and created the second goal. Bruno Alves's crashing header hit the post but the rebound fell to his defensive partner Rolando for an easy tap-in.


Image: Porto's Falcao celebrates after scoring a goal against Atletico Madrid
Photographs: Reuters
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CSKA see off Besiktas to earn first win

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CSKA Moscow scored in each half to beat Besiktas 2-1 in a scrappy Champions League match on Wednesday and earn their first points in Group B.

Alan Dzagoyev put the home side ahead after six minutes when he drilled a 20-metre curving shot into the top corner, beyond diving Besiktas keeper Rustu Recber.

CSKA's Serbian winger Milos Krasic doubled the lead just past the hour when he burst into the area, sidestepped a defender and fired a low shot past Recber.

Ekrem Dag pulled one back for the Turks in stoppage time but it was too late to save Besiktas from their second consecutive defeat after they lost 1-0 to Manchester United in Istanbul.

The win put the Russians, who had lost their five previous Champions League games including a 3-1 defeat by VfL Wolfsburg two weeks ago, back into contention for the knockout round.

"We are still looking for our best form but we got the three points tonight which was the most important thing," CSKA coach Juande Ramos, who replaced Brazilian Zico at the army club three weeks ago, told reporters.

"We were a better team in the first half and also for most of the second and we deserved our victory."

CSKA forced the play early on but only had a few openings in an uneventful first half.

Defender Sergei Ignashevich tried to test Recber from long range free kicks but twice blasted well over the bar and team mate Mark Gonzalez just missed the far post with a low free kick.

The visitors, who relied on long balls into the area in the first 45 minutes, increased the pressure on the Russian defence early in the second half, but the Krasic strike put paid to their hopes of snatching at least a point.

The defeat continued Besiktas' woeful Champions League away record. They lost all three of their games away from home two years ago.


Image: CSKA Moscow's Alan Dzagoev celebrates after scoring against Besiktas
Photographs: Reuters
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Bordeaux sink Maccabi with late Ciani goal

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A late goal by Michael Ciani earned Girondins Bordeaux a 1-0 home win against Maccabi Haifa in Champions League Group A on Wednesday.

Centre back Ciani headed home from a corner seven minutes from time to rescue a disappointing display by the French champions.

Substitute Lior Refaelov had the best chance for the visitors in the 79th minute but he was denied by keeper Cedric Carasso. Maccabi Haifa ended the match with 10 men after Baram Kayal was shown a straight red card in the 88th minute for a dangerous tackle on Benoit Tremoulinas.

Bordeaux extended their unbeaten run in all competitions to 21 matches but they failed to impress at their Chaban-Delmas stadium.

Haifa were the first to find their range when a powerful shot from Eyal Meshumar from just outside the box was parried away by Carasso.

Carasso tipped away a Mohammad Ghadir attempt shortly before the half hour as the hosts struggling to gain a foothold in the match.

Yoann Gourcuff was replaced by Fernando at halftime after the France playmaker suffered a thigh injury.

The home side produced a better second-half display and after substitute David Bellion wasted two good chances Ciani found the back of the net with a fine header from a Gregory Sertic corner.

Bordeaux have four points from two matches, the same as Bayern Munich who sit top on goal difference.


Image: Girondins Bordeaux's team celebrates after Michael Ciani scored against Maccabi Haifa
Photographs: Reuters
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