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Champions League goal glut
by Ian Plenderleith, October 22nd, 2008 7AM



[UEFA CHAMPIONS LEAGUE] Defenders largely took the night off in Tuesday's Champions League group action, with the eight games producing a staggering 36 goals. Manchester United, Villarreal and Arsenal all look set to qualify for the knockout stage, while in the round's big encounter, Juventus edged Real Madrid 2-1.

In Group E, Villareal and Aalborg traded nine goals, with the Spanish side coming out on top by three thanks to a hat trick from Joseba Llorente. Giuseppe Rossi, Robert Pires and Joan Capdevila chipped in after Aalborg took an early lead through Marek Saganowski, and the Danes even had the game tied at 2-2 by the interval before a second-half onslaught overwhelmed its brittle backline.

Not even the cliché-hungry U.K. press could bother hyping up the Manchester United-Celtic game as the Battle of Britain given how often English and Scottish teams meet in Europe nowadays. In any case, "battle" would be the wrong word for such a tame, one-sided affair, with Celtic predictably outclassed after forcing United keeper Edwin van der Sar into a couple of early saves. Dimitar Berbatov scored his second CL brace of the season (though both goals were arguably offside by the slimmest of margins), and Wayne Rooney continued his streak with another text-book strike into the bottom corner, despite the attention of several defenders.

Some relief for Juergen Klinsmann in Group F as Bayern Munich beat Fiorentina 3-0 in a lively game that saw several first-half chances at both ends. Miroslav Klose scored early on a breakaway, and Bastian Schweinsteiger scored one of the evening's several highlight strikes from outside the penalty area to make it 2-0. Ze Roberto added a late third, as Klinsmann acknowledged the victory was "very, very important for us, and gives us a boost. We have to continue this form. We knew Fiorentina was a very strong side. But I was never scared that things would go wrong."

Another of the night's barn-burners saw Lyon win 5-3 at Steaua Bucharest after going 2-0 down in 11 minutes, and trailing 3-2 at halftime. Two goals each from Karim Benzema and Fred gave them the victory, though it was Abdulkader Keita's sumptuous volley that opened the side's account. "Many teams would have faded but we knew how to react," said proud-sounding Lyon coach Claude Puel.

Group G's goal fest was in Istanbul, where Fenerbahce capitulated 5-2 to Arsenal, which like Steaua also zoomed to an early 2-0 lead after 11 minutes, through Emmanuel Adebayor and Theo Walcott. Despite several defensively wrought moments, the young Arsenal team, with an average age of 23, just kept scoring and kept its goals conceded down to two. Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said that both teams set out to attack, but added, "Our pace, movement and technique made the difference and allowed us to take advantage of it, but it was not an easy game."

Dynamo Kiev leapfrogged FC Porto in the group's other game with a 1-0 road victory on an Oleksandr Aliyev goal. Just one goal? We're not interested, let's move on.

Juventus can't beat the likes of Catania and Napoli in Serie A, but managed to take three points off Real Madrid with a 2-1 win thanks to a tasty goal from Alessandro del Piero and a second from Brazilian striker Amauri. A firm Ruud Van Nistelrooy header 20 minutes from time wasn't enough to allow Real to cash in on the points. In the group's former Soviet Union matchup, Zenit St. Petersburg and battling BATE Borisov from Belarus shared two goals and two points in the day's only tie.

Group E
Manchester United 3 (Berbatov 2, Rooney) Celtic 0
Villareal 6 (Rossi, Llorente 3, Pires, Capdevila) Aalborg 3 (Saganowski, Enevoldsen, Johansson)
Standings: Man United (7 points), Villareal, (7), Celtic (1), Aalborg (1).

Group F
Bayern Munich 3 (Klose, Schweinsteiger, Ze Roberto) Fiorentina 0
Steaua Bucharest 3 (Arthuro, Goian, Petre) Lyon 5 (Keita, Benzema 2, Fred 2)
Standings: Bayern (7 points), Lyon (5), Fiorentina (2), Steaua (1).

Group G
FC Porto 0 Dynamo Kiev 1 (Aliyev)
Fenerbahce 2 (Silvestre OG, Guiza) Arsenal 5 (Adebayor, Walcott, Diaby, Song Billong, Ramsey)
Standings: Arsenal (7 points), Kiev (5), FC Porto (3), Fenerbahce (1)

Group H
Zenit St Petersburg 1 (Tekke) BATE 1 (Nekhaychik)
Juventus 2 (del Piero, Amauri) Real Madrid 1 (van Nistelrooy)
Standings: Juve (7), Real (6 points), BATE (2), Zenit (1)



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