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Arsenal is the only winner
by Paul Kennedy, February 25th, 2009 7AM



[UEFA CHAMPIONS LEAGUE] Arsenal survived a bizarre incident when its two center backs were missing at the start of the second half to beat Roma, 1-0, in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League round-of-16 series. The Gunners were the only team to win on Tuesday as the other three matches ended in draws.

ARSENAL-ROMA (1-0). The Gunners were the only team to win on Tuesday, getting a penalty kick by Robin van Persie late in the first half after the Dutchman was taken down by French defender Philippe Mexes.

The match featured a bizarre incident after halftime as Arsenal defenders William Gallas and Kolo Toure were nowhere to be found when the second half kicked off. They came trotting out the tunnel, and Toure was handed a red card for running on the field without the referee's permission.

(Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger later said Toure was waiting for Gallas to finish receiving treatment in the locker room.)

ADVANTAGE: A solid performance gives Arsenal hope of reaching the final eight, though the Gunners wasted a bunch of chances to extend their lead.

Feb. 24 in London
Arsenal 1 Roma 0. Goal: van Persie pen. 37.
Arsenal -- Almunia, Sagna, Gallas, Toure, Clichy, Eboue (Ramsey 82), Denilson, Diaby (Song 62), Nasri, Bendtner (Vela 67), van Persie.
Roma -- Doni, Motta, Loria (Diamoutene 71), Mexes, Riise, Taddei, De Rossi, Brighi (Pizarro 57), Perrotta, Totti, Baptista (Vucinic 82).
Referee: Claus Bo Larsen (Denmark).
Att.: 60,003.

INTER MILAN-MANCHESTER UNITED (0-0). The day's marquee match -- the first showdown between old adversaries Sir Alex Ferguson and Jose Mourinho since the Portuguese coach took the Inter Milan  job -- was a disappointment.
The result extended the defending champion's unbeaten streak to a UEFA Champions League record 20 successive matches.

ADVANTAGE: United should go through at Old Trafford with ease if Inter turns in another woeful performance like it did on Tuesday. Ferguson was disappointed not to get a win. "I hope not scoring a goal doesn't come back to bite us," said the Scotsman. "However, I think we deserved to win. We played very well."

Feb. 24 in Milan
Inter Milan 0 Manchester United 0.
Inter Milan -- Julio Cesar, Maicon, Rivas (Cordoba 46), Chivu, Santon, Zanetti, Cambiasso, Muntari (Cruz 76), Stankovic, Adriano (Balotelli 76), Ibrahimovic.
Manchester United -- van der Sar, O'Shea, Evans, Ferdinand, Evra, Fletcher, Carrick, Giggs, Park (Rooney 84), Cristiano Ronaldo, Berbatov.
Referee: Luis Medina Cantalejo (Spain).
Att.: 80,018.

LYON-BARCELONA (1-1). Brazilian Juninho, whom Barcelona coach Josep Guardiola called "one of the best players in the world capable of winning a match on his own," put Lyon ahead early on a long free kick from the left flank, breaking the club record with his 17th European goal, but Karim Benzema hit the post later in the first half. Frenchman Thierry Henry equalized early in the second half with a header at the far post.

ADVANTAGE: The French champion will rue its inability to put its home game against Barca away. Given all of Lyon's chances, Barca should feel happy to have escaped from the stade de Gerland with a 1-1 tie that puts it in the driver's seat for the return game at the Nou Camp.

Feb. 24 in Lyons
Lyon 1 Barcelona 1. Goals: Juninho 7;  Henry 67.
Lyon -- Lloris, Mensah, Cris, Boumsong, Grosso, K.Keita (Pjanic 88), Makoun, Toulalan, Juninho (Kallstrom 79), Ederson (Delgado 65), Benzema.
Barcelona - Valdes, Daniel Alves, Pique, Marquez, Puyol, Xavi, Toure, Busquets (S.Keita 77), Messi, Eto'o, Henry.
Referee: Wolfgang Stark (Germany).
Att.: 35,000.

ATLETICO MADRID-PORTO (2-2). The day's most exciting game took place in Madrid, where Porto twice rallied from one-goal deficits thanks to goals by Lisandro Lopez.

ADVANTAGE: Poor defending cost Atletico on the first goal -- defender Pablo Ibanez badly misjudged a header, allowing Lopez to break free -- and the result makes the Spanish club a long shot to advance in the second leg in Oporto on March 11.

Feb. 24 in Madrid
Atletico Madrid 2 Porto 2. Goals: Rodriguez 3, Forlan 45; Lisandro Lopez 22, 72.
Atletico Madrid -- Franco, Seitaridis, Ibanez, Ujfalusi, A.Lopez, M.Rodriguez (Miguel 80), Paulo Assuncao, Garcia (Maniche 67), Simao Sabrosa, Forlan, Aguero (Sinama Pongolle 56).
Porto -- Helton, Sapunaru (Pedro Emanuel 79), Rolando, Bruno Alves, Cissokho, Lucho Gonzalez, Fernando, Raul Meireles (Tomas Costa 90), Lisandro Lopez (Sektioui 90), Hulk, C.Rodriguez.
Referee: Howard Webb (England).
Att.: 47,000.



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