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20 Sep 2007 08:54
Manchester United, Arsenal, FC Barcelona and AS Roma opened their Champions League campaigns with victories on Wednesday.
United won at Sporting Lisbon 1-0 with a goal by Cristiano Ronaldo, while Arsenal beat visiting UEFA Cup champion Sevilla 3-0. Barcelona, the 2006 champion, beat Lyon 3-0, and Roma defeated Dynamo Kiev 2-0.
Another supposed contender, Inter Milan, lost at Turkish champions Fenerbahce 1-0 for the biggest upset of the night.
Rangers, Slavia Prague and PSV Eindhoven also won, joining defending champion AC Milan, Marseille, Real Madrid, Valencia and Shakhtar Donetsk, who all won on Tuesday.
Rangers rallied to beat Stuttgart 2-1, Slavia beat Steaua Bucharest 2-1, and 1988 European champion PSV beat CSKA Moscow 2-1.
Manchester United brought back England striker Wayne Rooney from injury, seeking to improve an attack that scored just four times in the club’s opening six Premier League matches.
However, it was Ronaldo who scored in the 62nd minute of his return to his former club.
Paul Scholes and Michael Carrick combined to set up Wes Brown for a cross on the right side of the area, and Ronaldo met the defender’s ball into the area with a close-range diving header.
“Winning your first game away from home sets the tone for us,” United manager Alex Ferguson said.
“At halftime we looked to improve our game with more penetration and I think we did.
“They had some opportunities on the edge of the box but never really opened us up.”
United will share the Group F lead with Roma, which beat visiting Dynamo Kiev with a goal in each half.
Midfielder Simone Perrotta headed in a cross from Max Tonetto to give the hosts a ninth-minute lead, and Roma captain Francesco Totti beat Dynamo goalkeeper Olexandr Shovkovskiy in the 70th.
Roma reached the Champions League quarterfinals last season for its best European showing in 23 years, although the Italian club went out with a humiliating 7-1 loss at Manchester United.
Roma will be aiming for revenge when it visits United in the next round of games on October 2.
Inter was beaten in Istanbul by a 43rd-minute shot from Deivid De Souza. The Italian champions contained the hosts during the first half and tried to engineer counterattacks, but barely troubled Fenerbahce goalkeeper Volkan Demirel.
Also in Group G, PSV led CSKA through goals by Danko Lazovic and Kenneth Perez before Vagner Love got one back in the 89th.
Arsenal completed a good day for English clubs—a day after Chelsea and five-time European champion Liverpool had to settle for 1-1 draws—with a comfortable win over Sevilla in Group H.
Cesc Fabregas, who only scored four goals last season, put Arsenal ahead in the 27th to take his tally to six after just a month of the season. He hit a long-range shot that went in off the body of Sevilla defender Julien Escude.
“Whoever scores, it’s good for the team,” Fabregas said. “It’s good that we score goals. We have to go step by step. ... We are doing that at the moment and it’s going well.”
Robin van Persie made it 2-0 in the 59th with a shot into the top of the net, and substitute Eduardo da Silva added the third goal in injury time.
Slavia Prague also won its first match in Group H, with Tijani Belaid scoring a 63rd-minute winner with a low shot from inside the area.
Barcelona easily beat six-time defending French champion Lyon at Camp Nou, with Thierry Henry completing the rout with his first goal for the club.
The hosts took the lead when Lionel Messi’s cross was inadvertently put into the net by Lyon defender Francois Clerc.
Messi made it 2-0 in the 82nd with a low shot and, in injury time, Giovani Dos Santos beat defender Mathieu Bodmer to a long pass before Remy Vercoutre saved his shot and Henry put in the rebound for his first goal in four competitive matches since moving from Arsenal in the off-season.
Group E rival Rangers rallied with two second-half goals to beat German champion Stuttgart.
The record 51-time Scottish champions, back in the tournament after missing out last season, trailed after a 56th-minute goal by Mario Gomez, scored when Rangers was temporarily down to 10 men because captain Barry Ferguson was having treatment for a head wound.
Ferguson made it back onto the field and Rangers equalised just six minutes after falling behind. Charlie Adam collected a pass just inside the area and the midfielder cut inside a defender before curling a shot inside the far post with his right foot.
Rangers then won a 75th-minute penalty when Alan Hutton was fouled by Stuttgart captain Fernando Meira, and Jean-Claude Darcheville scored the winning goal from the spot. - Sapa-AP
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