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Another Champions League shocker
by Paul Kennedy, March 6th, 2008 6:45AM
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[WINNERS & LOSERS] A day after defending champion AC Milan went out at home, nine-time champion Real Madrid was upset by Roma, 2-1, to fall in the round of 16 of the UEFA Champions League for the fourth straight year. Chelsea made it 3-for-3 for English clubs when it disposed of Olympiakos, while Schalke 04 had 21-year-old goalie Manuel Neuer to thank for its series victory over favored Porto.

Winners

LUCIANO SPALLETTI. A smart game plan and a fortuitous substitution by Coach Luciano Spalletti helped Roma beat Real Madrid, 2-1, on the road and return to the quarterfinals. Instead of sitting back, Roma attacked in the first half. Midfielder Alberto Aquilani slammed a shot off the bar, and Rodrigo Taddei forced Real goalie Iker Casillas into a tough save. Substitute Mirko Vucinic hit the bar with his first touch in the second half and put the game away with a goal in the 90th-minute after Taddei and Real Madrid's Raul traded goals.

ENGLISH CLUBS. Chelsea made it 3-for-3 for English clubs when it disposed of Olympiakos, 3-0,Wednesday and won their series by the same score. On Tuesday, Arsenal and Manchester United went through to the final. Liverpool goes into the second leg of its series against Inter Milan next week with a 2-0 lead. If the Reds prevail, it will mark the first time four clubs from one country made the quarterfinals.

MANUEL NEUER. Schalke 04 had 21-year-old goalie Manuel Neuer to thank for its series victory over favored Porto. Neuer saved two penalties in the shootout as Schalke won, 4-1, after the series ended tied 1-1 on aggregate. An 86th-minute goal from Lisandro Lopez gave Porto a 1-0 win in the second leg, but Neuer had twice denied Moroccan forward Tarik Sektioui on point-blank headers on either side of halftime.

Losers

REAL MADRID. The Spanish club's recent troubles in the UEFA Champions League continued when it fell to Roma, 2-1, in Madrid in a repeat of the outcome two weeks earlier in Rome. Since winning its record ninth European Cup title in 2004, Real Madrid has lost in the first knockout phase every year.

BARCELONA. Barcelona, the lone Spanish club left in the Champions League, will be without Argentina striker Lionel Messi for both legs of the quarterfinals and he's questionable for the semifinals in April after suffering a hamstring injury in Tuesday's 1-0 win over Celtic. Messi will be out of action for six weeks after tearing a muscle in his left leg.

 



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