Successful start for Ramos as Real coach

A double from Raul helped Juande Ramos secure his first win as Real Madrid coach in the Champions League on Wednesday, and extended the Spanish striker’s record as the competition’s all-time top goal scorer.

Raul’s two goals and a third by Arjen Robben gave Real a 3-0 victory over Uefa Cup holders Zenit St Petersburg in Group H in their first match under Ramos, who replaced the sacked Bernd Schuster on Tuesday.

Holders Manchester United took top spot in Group E despite being held 2-2 at home by Danes AaB Aalborg, who qualify for the Uefa Cup. Villarreal were second in the group after a 2-0 defeat at Celtic and had forward Guille Franco sent off.

A lacklustre start to the season by Madrid culminated in a 4-3 defeat to Sevilla on Sunday and Schuster’s dismissal ahead of a crucial La Liga trip to rivals Barcelona this weekend.

”I have seen some positive things and it was good not to concede a goal,” Ramos said after Wednesday’s win.

”The players are keen to turn things round, just like the fans and the board. They want to improve quickly and it is in their hands to do so.”

Raul fired home the opener midway through the first half before adding his 64th goal in European soccer’s top competition in the second half. Robben scored just after halftime.

Nine-time European champions Real finished second in the group on goal difference behind Juventus, who were held 0-0 at home by BATE Borisov. Zenit finished third and earned the chance to defend their Uefa Cup crown.

Dynamo Kiev and Fiorentina also booked berths in the second-tier competition with victory in the final round of group games.

Alberto Gilardino’s header sealed a 1-0 victory for Fiorentina at Steaua Bucharest in Group F while Bayern Munich beat Olympique Lyon 3-2 to finish top of the table ahead of their French opponents.

A Roman Eremenko goal gave Dynamo a 1-0 win over Fenerbahce to earn a Uefa Cup spot alongside Ukrainian rivals Shakhtar Donetsk and Metalist Kharkiv.

”It was a tough game because we needed a positive result to qualify for the Uefa Cup and paid more attention to defence … luckily we managed to cope and now three Ukrainian teams will play in Uefa Cup,” Dynamo coach Yuri Sumin said.

Porto ended top of the table after a 2-0 home win over Arsenal, who finished second, and gained revenge for a 4-0 defeat to the Londoners earlier in the group.

”Our tactics were stronger and we had an excellent second half,” Porto coach Jesualdo Ferreira told Portuguese television.

”I don’t recall any goal opportunity for Arsenal. We deserved to win and the victories in the last three qualifying matches serve to give us confidence for the knockout phase”.

United equalled a Champions League record of 19 games without defeat and became one of four English sides to reach the draw for the knockout stage on December 19 alongside Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool. The competition will resume in February. — Reuters

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