Chelsea continued their excellent recent form with a comprehensive and thoroughly professional 3-0 win away to Schalke, in the process establishing themselves at the top of Group E. A rejuvenated Fernando Torres did the damage, with 2 excellent finishes. The first was a back post header, the second was a close range finish after an excellent breakaway. Eden Hazard completed the scoring.
Arsenal did not fare so well in their game against Dortmund at the Emirates, losing 2-1 after a late Robert Lewandowski winner. The visitors took the lead after a sharp passing move, but the gunners soon restored parity after Olivier Giroud pounced on a defensive error. Despite numerous chances to then go and win the game, Arsenal then agonisingly lost the game 8 minutes from time as Lewandowski did what he does best, capitalising on the freedom of the penalty area to rifle home.
As for Celtic, they kept their faint hopes of qualifying for the knockout stages alive after a precious 2-1 win at home to Ajax. After a goalless first half, Celtic struck first as James Forrest coolly converted a penalty after Anthony Stokes was flattened. A second goal soon arrived as Beram Kayal hit a deflected shot from outside the area, and although the visitors pulled 1 back with seconds to go, Neil Lennon’s side had a precious 3 points.
In the other game in that group, the showcase tie of the week, Barcelona and AC Milan played out an entertaining 1-1 draw at the San Siro. The hosts started with a bang as former Madrid players Kaka and Robinho combined brilliantly for the Brazilian to roll the ball home. However, just before half time Milan’s defence committed the cardinal sin of allowing Lionel Messi time and space in the penalty box; the inevitable followed.
On Wednesday evening, Manchester City played CSKA Moscow in the early kick off, and took a vital victory away from freezing conditions in Russia. Although Pellegrini’s team fell behind to ex-Man United player Zoran Tosic early on, they soon rallied and Sergio Aguero equalised only 2 minutes later. And the comeback was completed before half time as a defensive mixup allowed Aguero to head City into the lead. Despite some concerted pressure in the second period (and Joe Hart having to make a brilliant save just before full time), there were no additions to the score.
Manchester United bounced back from several disappointing domestic results with a 1-0 win at home to Real Sociedad. A whirlwind start from Moyes’ team led to Wayne Rooney firing a shot off the post; it rebounded to a defender who could only turn the ball into his own net. United continued to create chances, but were given a reminder of the Spanish teams capabilities when a free kick cannoned off the woodwork. Despite a host more chances in the second half, including Antonio Valencia firing against the post, United had to be content with a 1-0 win and top spot in their group.
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