Given Roma's recent dismal form in Serie A, Chelsea maybe took the old adage, "When in Rome, do as the Romans do" a little too literally, losing 3-1 in the Italian capital with a lethargic performance. Goals from Christian Panucci and a superb brace from Montenegrin striker Mirko Vucinic had Roma 3-0 up just past the hour, and a close-range consolation goal from John Terry couldn't put a gloss on Chelsea's desperate and unimaginative high-ball approach.
A red card for Deco capped off a bad night for Chelsea, with the Portuguese midfielder dismissed after getting a second yellow card for taking a free-kick too quickly. "We gave too many opportunities to Roma," said Chelsea manager Luiz Felipe Scolari. "We made too many mistakes, made wrong passes and had bad positions."
Meanwhile, Bordeaux beat Romanian champion Cluj for the second game in succession, Yoann Gourcuff and Wendel's searing free-kick sufficing to cancel out Dani's headed equalizer for Cluj. Roma and Bordeaux are both on six points, one point behind Chelsea, with Chelsea traveling to Bordeaux for its next game.
In Group B, Inter Milan had to rely on a late leveler from Argentine forward Julio Cruz to escape with a point in the 3-3 thriller after its defense put on a comedy show to gift the Cypriots three goals. Inter took an early lead through Mario Balotelli before Famagusta pulled back through French midfielder Cedric Bardon. Marco Materazzi headed in a corner kick to put Inter back in front, but goals from Georgios Panagi, just before halftime, and Nikos Frousos just after, kept the home side ahead until Cruz, one of three second half substitutes that Inter coach Jose Mourinho introduced simultaneously, headed in sharply with nine minutes left.
"This is a historic result for them," said Mourinho. "I'm pleased for them... and it's a fantastic evening for them. For us it's just a positive result because we have almost qualified [for the knockout phase], but a team like ours should win easily."
Werder Bremen, having tied its first three group games, went bottom of the group when it broke the monotonous streak by losing 3-0 at home to Panathinaikos. The Greek side landed its first win of the group campaign by dominating the second half with goals from Evangelos Mantzios (his third in two games), Georgios Karagounis -- a superbly swerving, dipping volley from outside the area -- and a deflected shot from Alexandros Tziolis. The Greeks are now breathing down Famagusta's neck in third place, one point behind with four points.
In Group C, Barcelona probably thought it only had to show up against FC Basel to get the points, having hammered the Swiss champion 5-0 two weeks ago, but after Lionel Messi put the Catalan side ahead with a grass-creeper just after coming into the game as a substitute, Eren Derdiyok had the temerity to equalize and give Basel its first point. Nonetheless, Barcelona's now through to the knockout stages, and Sporting Lisbon pretty much wrapped up the other spot by again beating the Ukraine side Shakhtar Donetsk 1-0 on a sweetly converted Derlei goal.
In Group D, Liverpool went behind to Atletico Madrid on a superbly worked Maxi Rodriguez goal, and although it created a few second-half opportunities, it had to rely on a barely credible penalty decision five minutes into stoppage time to get the point. Steven Gerrard threw himself down after an aerial challenge in the penalty area and, much to everyone's surprise, won the kick on the word of a linesman who must have had a perfect view of his theatrics. He gratefully converted the resultant penalty.
"I'm not sure it was a penalty," Gerrard admitted. "I got there first and I think if that is outside the area you get a free kick. If it happened at the other end we would be livid. That's football."
Although Marseille coach Eric Gerets wrote his side off after its third successive defeat two weeks ago, it showed some fight Tuesday beating PSV Eindhoven 3-0 on goals from Ivory Coast striker Bakari Kone and a brace from Senegalese forward Mamadou Niang. But again, the five-point gap between the top two and the bottom two means this group is as good as over for the French and Dutch sides.
CFR Cluj 1 (Dani) Bordeaux 2 (Gourcuff, Wendel)
Roma 3 (Vucinic 2, Panucci) Chelsea 1 (Terry)
Standings: Chelsea (7 points), Roma (6), Bordeaux (6), Cluj (4).
Anorthosis Famagusta 3 (Bardon, Panagi, Frousos) Inter Milan 3 (Balotelli, Materazzi, Cruz)
Werder Bremen 0 Panathinaikos 3 (Mantzios, Karagounis, Tziolis)
Standings: Inter (8 points), Anorthosis (5), Panathinaikos (4), Bremen (3).
Barcelona 1 (Messi) Basel 1 (Derdiyok)
Sporting Lisbon 1 (Derlei) Shakhtar Donetsk 0
Standings: Barcelona (10 points), Sporting (9), Shakhtar (3), Basel (1),
Liverpool 1 (Gerrard PK) Atl. Madrid 1 (Maxi Rodriguez)
Marseille 3 (Kone, Niang 2) PSV Eindhoven 0
Standings: Atletico (8 points), Liverpool (8 points), Marseille (3), PSV (3)