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UEFA CHAMPIONS LEAGUE: Big Guns Chelsea, Barcelona And Manchester United Record Wins.

JUAN Mata scored twice as Chelsea won 4-0 at debutants FC Nordsjaelland for the first victory in their Champions League title defence.   

Having been held 2-2 by Juventus in their Group E opener, Chelsea’s campaign is now up and running, but the scoreline disguised the fact that Roberto Di Matteo’s side toiled for long periods at Copenhagen’s Parken Stadium.

Making their home debuts in the tournament – albeit away from their Farum Park home – Nordsjaelland took the game to the visitors after Mata’s 33rd-minute opener and threatened to equalise several times before David Luiz made the game safe 11 minutes from time.

Mata and Ramires added late goals to rubber-stamp Chelsea’s first away win in the group phase since a 2-0 success at Spartak Moscow in October 2010.

“It was a great result,” said the recalled Frank Lampard.

“We had to bide our time. At 1-0 they created a few half-chances and hit the post but once we got the second goal, that was it and we dominated,” he told ITV.

Juan Mata

With four points, Chelsea are now joint top of the group with Shakhtar Donetsk, who they visit in their next match.

Chelsea made three changes to the team that won 2-1 at Arsenal, Lampard coming into the team alongside Victor Moses and Gary Cahill, who replaced John Terry despite the Blues captain having served a two-game UEFA ban.

Moses was making his competition debut and he should have marked it with an early goal but when Oscar’s dink found him at the back post in the fourth minute, he planted the ball against the upright from point-blank range.

Lampard fired over from a Mata cut-back shortly afterwards but the hosts did not appear inhibited by the stature of their opponents.

Nordsjaelland coach Kasper Hjulmand had asked his players to show “courage” and they displayed impressive assurance on the ball.

Their ease in possession was to prove a double-edged sword, however, and after Fernando Torres had tested goalkeeper Jesper Hansen in the 22nd minute, the visitors exploited that over-confidence and took the lead.

Enoch Adu was at fault, the centre back dwelling on the ball and being robbed by Torres, whose pass was helped into the path of the onrushing Mata by Lampard, enabling the Spaniard to finish with the inside of his left foot.

“We made a stupid mistake on the first goal but then we came back and we tried to get possession of the ball and play through their lines,” said Hjulmand.
“Many of the things we’ve been practising succeeded, but we needed to put our chances away.”

Alexis-Sanchez

Alexis-Sanchez
Barcelona’s Chilean forward Alexis Sanchez, left, vies with Benfica’s defender “Maxi” Pereira in UEFA Champions League match Benfica in Lisbon. Picture: Francisco LeongSource: AFP

 

Barca maintain winning start

In Lisbon, Barcelona continued their imperious form this season as they retained top spot in Champions League Group G with a 2-0 victory away over Benfica.

Alexis Sanchez struck after six minutes and Cesc Fabregas added a second following the break to leave Barca with a 100 per cent record from their opening two games while Celtic are on four points following their earlier win away to Spartak Moscow.

Sergio Busquets was sent off with two minutes to go after a clash with Maxi Pereira.
Tito Vilanova arrived at the Camp Nou over the summer looking to win back the Champions League, which they have lifted twice in the past four years, and the domestic league title.

And despite the pressure of replacing Pep Guardiola he could hardly have made a better start with six wins from six in La Liga.

Now Vilanova’s men turn their attention to the small matter of the El Clasico on Sunday against Real Madrid – but they will be without Carles Puyol, who dislocated an elbow after falling heavily on his arm.

“It was a costly victory for us but we are happy with the result against Benfica who are a strong side. It was a nasty injury [for Puyol] and he has already had one this season so this isn’t very normal,” said Vilanova.

“We have had a lot of problems at the back and it would be nice to play the El Clasico with a full squad but still we are playing well at the moment and have five days to recover.”

Benfica coach Jorge Jesus had only words of praise for his players.

“We weren’t lacking in any area. We were against the side who in my opinion is the best in the world and in any game they have about 70 per cent possession. We were excellent in the first half and didn’t deserve to go in losing,” he said.

“At 2-0 Barca consolidated, defended the result and made it difficult to come back at them.”
The main news for Barcelona before kick off had been that Puyol was returning from injury to lead the team from the back while Andres Iniesta was fit for a place on the bench.

For Benfica seeking their first victory against a Spanish side since the 1982-83 season they were missing defender Luisao and up front Oscar Cardoza, while playmaker Pablo Aimar, who had overcome a strain, was left out of the starting eleven as Jorge Jesus sought a more mobile midfield.

Tom-Cleverley

Tom-Cleverley
Manchester United midfielder Tom Cleverley brings downCFR Cluj defender Ivo Pinto in the Champions League match in Cluj Napoca, Romania. Picture: Daniel MihailescuSource: AFP

 

Man United wins 2-1

In Cluj, Romania, Robin van Persie scored with an exquisite finish plus a more fortuitous attempt as Manchester United came from behind to win 2-1 at CFR Cluj in the Champions League.

Trailing 1-0 to Cluj’s 14th-minute opener, United levelled when Rooney’s cross struck Van Persie’s shoulder instead of his head and looped over the goalkeeper to land into the net in the 29th.
If the Netherlands striker’s first goal was lucky, his second was pure class – and again Rooney was the provider.

The England forward chipped the ball through a hesitant Cluj defence, and Van Persie slipped into space and clipped it into the corner with the outside of his boot in the 49th.
United has a maximum six points in Group H, three ahead of Cluj and Braga.

Robin-Van-Persie

Robin-Van-Persie
Manchester United’s Robin van Persie, top, celebrates with Wayne Rooney, right, after scoring his second goal against CFR Cluj in Cluj, Romania. Picture: Vadim GhirdaSource: AP

Celtic end away woes

In MOSCOW, a last-minute goal by Giorgos Samaras gave Celtic their first ever away win in 21 Champions League games as they defeated 10-man Spartak Moscow 3-2.
The Greek international headed home to seal a famous win for the Scottish champions – who ended a losing run of 11 successive away Champions League losses since drawing in Barcelona in 2004 – and complete a great second-half comeback.

That had been sparked when trailing 2-1 – thanks to an Emmanuel Emmenike double.
French referee Tony Chapron sent off Spartak defender Juan Insaurralde just after the hour mark for bringing down Gary Hooper, who had given Celtic the lead early in the first half.

Celtic – whose last away win in the European Cup came in 1986 over Irish side Shamrock Rovers – broke the deadlock with their first attack of the match after they had been pegged back by the hosts for the opening 10 minutes.

Victor Wanyama won the ball with a brilliant tackle in midfield and the Kenyan star fed Swedish international Mikael Lustig out on the left, who beat a defender before putting in a perfect low cross for Hooper to put it away into the far corner.
Hooper – scoring his 60th goal in 99 games for Celtic since moving from unglamorous English side Scunthorpe – had the ball in the back of the net again in the 24th minute but he had just veered offside when he met Samaras’s cross.

Celtic suffered a blow subsequently when Wanyama picked up a booking which rules him out of the daunting trip to Barcelona in their next Group game.

Spartak, though, deservedly levelled before the break as another brilliant long pass by Kim Kallstrom found Brazilian Ari, who passed the ball inside to Emenike and he made no mistake planting the ball past Fraser Forster.

Celtic got off to the worst possible start to the second-half as Ari and Emenike combined for the second goal, though a large part of the blame has to go to Forster.

Emenike’s shot from outside the box looked to be going wide, after taking a deflection off Kelvin Wilson, but Forster opted to save it, only managing to tip it to Ari, whose unselfish pass inside found Emenike and he tapped into an empty net.
The match swung back Celtic’s way when Charpon, after consulting his assistant, sent off Insaurralde.

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