Roma have no Cluj
European heavyweights Liverpool, FC Barcelona, Chelsea and Inter Milan opened their Champions League campaigns with victories.sports Updated: Sep 17, 2008 23:17 IST
European heavyweights Liverpool, FC Barcelona, Chelsea and Inter Milan opened their Champions League campaigns with victories on Tuesday.
But the most striking results on the first night of the group stage came from the competition’s newcomers on the road, with CFR Cluj upsetting AS Roma 2-1 and Anorthosis Famagusta holding Werder Bremen 0-0.
Chelsea, which lost May’s final on penalty kicks, crushed Bordeaux 4-0; five-time champion Liverpool rallied to win 2-1 at Marseille; 2006 winner Barcelona overcame Sporting Lisbon 3-1 and Jose Mourinho’s Inter Milan beat Panathinaikos 2-0.
Atletico Madrid ended its 11-year absence with a 3-0 win at 1988 champion PSV Einhoven, while Shakhtar Donetsk won 2-1 despite FC Basel scoring a late goal. Fernando Torres was back spearheading Liverpool’s attack after recovering from injury as Liverpool was given a tougher test than last year’s visit to the Stade Velodrome when they left with a 4-0 victory.
Marseille went ahead in the 23rd when Benoit Cheyrou lofted the ball over and Lorik Cana sidefooted past goalkeeper Pepe Reina.
The flares were still being launched when Steven Gerrard struck within three minutes with a rasping shot that looped into the net from 25 meters (yards).
“It was amazing. It was a fantastic goal, it shows the quality he has,” Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez said. Gerrard put Liverpool ahead in the 31st from the penalty spot at the second attempt after Ronald Zubar had tripped Ryan Babel.
“We played well in the first half, but in the second they pinned us in and put us under a lot of pressure,” Gerrard said. “They’ve got small guys who are really quick and can pass around you.”
Atletico hadn’t played in the Champions League this century, but Sergio Aguero scored twice and Maniche added another to give the Spaniards a winning start at PSV.
Aguero sliced in Luis Garcia’s cross in the ninth minute. Substitute Florent Sinama Pongolle set up Aguero for the second goal in the 36th, before Maniche converted Garcia’s pass to make it 3-0 in the 54th to ensure a lead over Liverpool on goal difference in Group D .
Chelsea began the new European campaign emphatically, with Frank Lampard scoring and playing provider. He powered in a header in the 14th on Jose Bosingwa’s cross, before his inviting cross allowed Joe Cole to nod in at the near post in the 30th after rising above Alou Diarra.
Florent Malouda put the match beyond doubt in the 82nd when put clear by Lampard’s well-timed backheel. Anelka added a fourth in injury time. But Chelsea’s Group A rivals, CFR Cluj, stole the headlines by stunning Roma thanks to Argentine midfielder Juan Culio’s two goals.
A 25-year-old journeyman playing his first Champions League match, Culio scored in the 27th and 49th minutes after Christian Panucci had put Roma in front at Stadio Olimpico, which will host this season's final on May 27.
Panucci headed in a pass from Daniele De Rossi in the 17th minute for his 13th goal in 99 European matches.
But Juan Culio equalised six minutes later, splitting two defenders with a diagonal shot from the edge of the area, and Juan Culio struck again in the 47th, volleying in a loose ball from the center of the area.