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Basel battered by Barcelona
by Ian Plenderleith, October 23rd, 2008 7AM



[UEFA CHAMPIONS LEAGUE] After Tuesday night's fireworks in Champions League group play (36 goals in eight games), Wednesday was always going to have a hard time keeping up in terms of entertainment. Only Barcelona sparkled, knocking five past Basel, while four other teams -- including Chelsea and Inter Milan -- won by a single goal.

Chelsea's winner against Roma 12 minutes from time said much about the tight, lackluster game that preceded it, despite the forecast by Chelsea manager Luiz Felipe Scolari that the two sides would produce beautiful soccer. Defender John Terry glanced in a header straight from a corner kick, causing Scolari to reminisce about the times as Portugal's national team coach when Terry, playing for England, caused him fear by moving up to the attack. "Now I'm here and I tell Terry to go up there," Scolari said. "He got to the ball and it was a big moment for us."

The group's other game was also decided by a single goal, a horrific moment for CFR Cluj defender Cadu as his attempt to clear a shot ended in him slicing it past his own goalkeeper, Eduard Stancioui, who had been poised to catch the original strike. The defender almost got a second for the home team when he botched another clearance, but this time Stancioui was able to tip the ball over the bar. "Bordeaux Accepte Le Cadu" punned L'Equipe in its headline -- 'Bordeaux accepts the gift' (substituting Cadu for "cadeau").

In Group B, Inter made hard work of Anorthosis Famagusta in producing the night's third 1-0 margin, Adriano heading in just before halftime. "We know that the real Champions League begins after the group stage when there are those 12 or 13 teams in the running to win it," said Inter coach Jose Mourinho, barely suppressing a yawn as his team moved three points clear at the top. "For now, we just have to make as few mistakes as possible."

Werder Bremen took its third tie in three games, drawing 2-2 at Panathinaikos, though the German side was lucky not to have its first goal canceled out when defender Per Mertesacker clearly controlled a cross with his arm before thumping it in. Panathinaikos then grabbed the initiative, taking the lead through two headers from Evangelos Matzios and smacking the crossbar before Hugo Almeida leveled late for Werder. "We made a lot of mistakes, but we also did some good things," said Werder coach Thomas Schaaf. Which is about what you'd expect from a 2-2 scoreline.

In Group C, Barcelona disposed of Swiss champion FC Basel in short time, going 3-0 up by halfway through the first half. Lionel Messi's opener on Daniel Alves' chipped pass was the pick of the bunch, though 18-year-old Bojan Perez's brace of was a two-pack of fine finishing that helped take the final score to 5-0. "There are no easy games," claimed Barca coach Pep Guardiola, apparently with a straight face. "Only when we give the maximum are victories like this possible." In the group's other game, Sporting Lisbon edged hosts Shakhtar Donetsk on an opportunistic goal from Brazilian striker Liedson to put them three points behind Barcelona in second, and three ahead of Shakhtar.

Liverpool should have been more than 1-0 up at halftime away at Atletico Madrid, but Robbie Keane completely missed a perfect cross delivered to him right in front of goal by Steven Gerrard, despite having earlier given his side the lead with a strong finish from another Gerrard assist. In the second half Atletico came back strongly, having a clearly legitimate goal canceled for offside before Simao slotted in a late equalizer from a Diego Forlan pass.

Both teams are on seven points, four ahead of PSV, which broke its duck with a 2-0 home win over Olympique Marseille on a pair of late headers from Danny Koevermans. Marseille coach Eric Gerets threw in the towel, declaring, "The Champions League is over! I can't even begin to comprehend our second half. There was a world of difference between the two teams in terms of will, fitness and courage." It's the first time a French team has reached the halfway point of the CL group stage without picking up a single point, a stat unlikely to improve his temper.

Group A
Bordeaux 1 (Cadu OG) CFR Cluj 0
Chelsea 1 (Terry) Roma 0
Standings: Chelsea (7 points), Cluj (4), Roma (3), Bordeaux(3),

Group B
Inter Milan 1 (Adriano) Anorthosis Famagusta 0
Panathinaikos 2 (Mantzios 2) Werder Bremen 2 (Mertesacker, Hugo Almeida)
Standings: Inter (7 points), Anorthosis (4), Bremen (3), Panathinaikos (1).

Group C
Basel 0 Barcelona 5 (Messi, Busquets, Bojan 2, Xavi)
Shakhtar Donetsk 0 Sporting Lisbon 1 (Silva Liedson)
Standings: Barcelona (9 points), Sporting (6), Shakhtar (3), Basel (0),

Group D
Atletico Madrid 1 (Simao) Liverpool 1 (Keane)
PSV 2 (Koevermans 2) Marseille 0
Standings: Atletico (7 points), Liverpool (7 points), PSV (3), Marseille (0)



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