BATE gives Juventus a scare

[UEFA CHAMPIONS LEAGUE] The UEFA Champions League group stage was invented to guarantee extra income for Europe's biggest clubs, and to ensure that any surprise results didn't put them out of the competition for the whole season. But if this stacks the odds even further against the teams from Europe's smaller nations, they can still give the established names a fright or two. In Tuesday's action, Juventus had to scrap for a point with a 2-2 tie at Belarus champion BATE Borisov in Group H.

Apart from swatting aside Slovak champion Artmedia Petrvalka, 4-0, in a qualifying round game, Juventus had yet to score more than a single goal in any game so far this season, domestic or European. But the Italian side was forced to find its scoring touch when it found itself two goals down to BATE after just 23 minutes. A brace of goals from Vicenzo Iaquinta leveled the score just before halftime, and a scoreless second half left both sides with a point. Real Madrid won the other Group H game at St. Zenit Petersburg, 2-1, with Ruud van Nistelrooy repeating his weekend feat of scoring the gamewinner.

The other underdog side playing Tuesday had no chance, Danish champion Aalborg losing, 3-0, at home to a Manchester United side that almost walked its way through what could turn out to be its easiest game of the season. Wayne Rooney opened the scoring in the Group E game on a perfect through-ball from Ryan Giggs, who had just replaced the injured Paul Scholes. This was followed by Dimitar Berbatov's second-half brace, his first goals for the club. Raphael da Silva, United's 18-year-old Brazilian, made a dashing CL debut at right back.

In the same group, toothless Celtic went down 1-0 to a second-half Marcus Senna free kick at Villarreal, continuing the Scottish champion's miserable CL road record (one point out of a possible 48). American Jozy Altidore did not suit up for Villarreal.

Arsenal was one of two big teams playing Tuesday that had to quickly bounce back from domestic defeat at the weekend, and after some early scares it duly trounced Porto, 4-0, with two goals each from Robin van Persie and Emmanuel Adebayor. In the end it could have been more as the north London side impressively got its passing game together. In the other group G game, Fenerbahce and Dynamo Kiev shared a dire goalless tie.

The other side shaking off its weekend demons was Bayern Munich, which partially atoned for two successive Bundesliga losses with a 1-1 draw at home to French champion Lyon in Group F. It was unlucky to fall behind when Juninho's long free kick was deflected in off home defender Martin Demichelis. A nice header from Ze Roberto on a Miroslav Klose cross allowed the Germans to tally a point. Fiorentina and Romanian champion Steaua Bucharest played out a goalless tie in the group's other game.

Group E
Aalborg 0 Manchester United 3 (Rooney, Berbatov 2)
Villarreal 1 (Senna) Celtic 0
Standings: Man United (4 points), Villarreal, (4), Celtic (1), Aalborg (1).

Group F
Bayern Munich 1 (Ze Roberto) Lyon 1 (Demichelis OG)
Fiorentina 0 Steaua Bucharest 0
Standings: Bayern (4 points), Fiorentina (2), Lyon (2), Steaua (1).

Group G
Arsenal 4 (Van Persie 2, Adebayor 2) FC Porto 0
Fenerbahce 0 Dynamo Kiev 0
Standings: Arsenal (4 points), FC Porto (3), Kiev (2), Fenerbahce (1)

Group H
BATE 2 (Krivets, Stasevic) Juventus 2 (Iaquinta 2)
Zenit St. Petersburg 1 (Danny), Real Madrid 2 (Hubocan OG, van Nistelrooy)
Standings: Real Madrid (6 points), Juve (4), BATE (1), Zenit (0)


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