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    Jun 2010


    Default Champions League round-up

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    Chelsea crushed Genk to take complete control of their UEFA Champions League group, while Arsenal also moved a step closer to qualification for the last 16 after a late win in Marseille.

    The two London clubs were in stronger positions than their Manchester counterparts had been going into Tuesday's action, but were still desperate for points and rose to the challenge to complete a fine week for the Premier League quartet.

    Elsewhere in Europe there were wins for Barcelona, AC Milan, Bayer Leverkusen and Olympiakos, while Porto were held by APOEL and Shakhtar Donetsk drew with Zenit St Petersburg.

    Belgian champions Genk were not expected to provide much resistance at Stamford Bridge and they were carved open with alarming regularity as Chelsea romped to a 5-0 success.

    Fernando Torres has gradually been looking more like his old self in recent weeks and was the star of the show with two goals against Genk, putting aside a bad early miss that could have easily affected his fragile confidence.

    It was left to Raul Meireles to break the deadlock on eight minutes with a ferocious 25-yard strike, before Torres belatedly scored his first Champions League goal for Chelsea three minutes later after collecting a Frank Lampard pass.

    The two goalscorers combined for number three in the 27th minute as Meireles delivered an inviting cross from the right and Torres showed sharp movement to flick home an excellent header.

    Branislav Ivanovic nodded in a fourth before half-time and Salomon Kalou completed the rout late on after Torres' shot had been saved.

    Chelsea are now five points clear of third-placed Valencia after the Spaniards surrendered a lead to lose 2-1 to Bayer Leverkusen in Germany.

    Jonas opened the scoring from close range midway through the first half but Leverkusen roared back after the interval and turned the game on its head with a two-goal blitz in the space of five minutes.

    First, Andre Schurrle made it 1-1 with a left-footed shot from the edge of the area, before Sidney Sam curled home a delightful finish after being released by Michael Ballack's defence-splitting through-ball.

    Impressive Gunners

    Arsenal remain well placed to advance to the next stage after claiming an impressive 1-0 win over Marseille to stay unbeaten on French soil.

    Marseille have made as bad a start to their domestic campaign as Arsenal but have enjoyed their European encounters this season and were looking for a third straight win in Group F.

    Neither side came too close to scoring in an evenly-contested first half, although Marseille felt they should have been awarded a penalty for handball against the inexperienced right-back Carl Jenkinson.
    Arsenal continued to show signs of vulnerability after the interval but battled hard and squandered a couple of opportunities to go ahead, with Theo Walcott denied by a good save from Steve Mandanda.

    The Gunners applied most of the pressure in an exciting finale but it looked like they would have to settle for a frustrating stalemate until substitute Aaron Ramsey popped up in stoppage time to nick a winner and take Arsene Wenger's men top of the group ahead of the reverse fixture at Emirates Stadium.

    Olympiakos trail second-placed Marseille by three points after getting their campaign up and running with a 3-1 victory at home to Borussia Dortmund.

    The Greeks took the lead after just eight minutes when Jose Holebas beat his defender in the air to head home an Ivan Marcano cross, only for Robert Lewandowski to equalise with a volley from Mario Gotze's clever assist.

    Rafik Djebbour put Olympiakos back in front five minutes before half-time and Francois Modesto's glancing header 11 minutes from time left Dortmund with an uphill task in their final three games to get out of the group.

    Stylish Barca

    Holders Barcelona produced a typically stylish performance to overcome Viktoria Plzen 2-0 at Camp Nou and remain on course to progress to the next stage with a minimum of fuss.

    The opening goal was trademark Barca as a slick passing move culminated in Lionel Messi setting up Andres Iniesta for a neat finish on 10 minutes.

    The floodgates did not open as expected but Barca dominated throughout, to such an extent that Plzen did not have a shot at goal in the entire match, and David Villa's late strike clinched a comfortable win.

    AC Milan remain level with Barca on seven points at the top of Group H, six clear of the other two teams, after beating BATE Borisov 2-0.

    Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who has recently been quoted as saying that he is losing his love for football, looked full of energy at the San Siro and fired Milan in front just after the half-hour mark.

    Kevin-Prince Boateng doubled their advantage with a blistering strike in the second half that crashed down off the crossbar and over the line.

    Surprise leaders

    APOEL are still the surprise leaders in a tight Group G following a 1-1 draw with Europa League winners Porto in Portugal.

    Porto value striker Hulk at 100million euros and the striker showed his worth with the opening goal direct from a free-kick on 13 minutes, although goalkeeper Dionisis Chiotis should perhaps have kept out the powerful effort at his near post.

    Ailton drew the Cypriot side level with an equally impressive strike just a few minutes later, to leave it all to play for in the second half of the group phase.

    There was plenty of drama in the other match in Group G, as Shakhtar Donetsk played out a 2-2 draw with Zenit St Petersburg.

    Roman Shirokov's penalty for Zenit was saved by Oleksandr Rybka after Dmytro Chygrynskiy had brought down Viktor Fayzulin, and Shakhtar took advantage of their reprieve when Willian opened the scoring on 15 minutes.

    Shirokov made amends for his earlier mistake from the spot with an equalising goal, but Luiz Adriano restored Shakhtar's advantage before half-time.

    Fayzulin brought it back to 2-2 on the hour mark and neither side could force a winner.



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