It was a good couple of nights for the English clubs in Europe as all four picked up three vital points. Wednesday’s action saw both Arsenal and Chelsea come out victorious but in very different circumstances.
Andre Villas-Boas rung the change for Chelsea’s Group E clash with FC Genk and you would have hardly noticed it as they matched their joint best ever victory in the Champions League with a 5-0 win.
They remain unbeaten in Europe this year and top their group with 7 points. Early goals from Meireles and Torres set the Blues on their way before the Spaniard got his second before the half hour mark. Ivanovic made it 4-0 before the break and Kalou wrapped up the win in the second period.
Meanwhile Bayer Leverkusen kept tabs with Chelsea after they beat Valencia in Germany. The Spanish side went into a first half lead thanks to Jonas before Andre Schurrie and Sidney Sam claimed all three points for Leverkusen. The result means that they are still just one point behind Chelsea and it now seems Valencia are all but out with just 2 points.
It was a great night for Arsenal in Marseille after substitute Aaron Ramsey struck in injury time to nick the win for the Gunners after what was a poor game with little or no chances to speak about.
Things might be just looking a bit better for Wenger’s men now and qualification is in their sights. They top Group F and victory over Wednesday’s opponents next game week at home would all but mean Arsenal will progress.
In the other game in Group F, Olympiacos helped their hopes of progressing with a 3-1 home win over Borussia Dortmund. Arsenal is top with 7, Marseille remain in second on 6 and the Greek champions are now in 3rd after registering their first points.
Group G is turning out to be a very tight affair and with both games ending up as draws on Wednesday evening, the group is set for a nail biting finish. Porto could only manage a draw at home to Apoel, who remain top while Shakhtar Donetsk also drew at home to Zenit. Apoel have 5 points, Zenit and Porto have four while Shakhtar have 2.
Finally, current holders Barcelona will be disappointed that they didn’t beat Viktoria Plzen by more at the Nou Camp. It finished 2-0 thanks to goals in either half from Iniesta and Villa but more of a cricket score was expected as the Champions League minnows visited Catalonia but fair play to the for putting in a fine performance. AC Milan went top of Group H after a comfortable 2-0 over Bate at the San Siro, Ibramhimovic and former Tottenham midfielder Kevin Prince-Boateng with the goals.
It seems AC and Barca will battle it out for top spot in Group H as the other two clubs are still only on one point apiece.
Some interesting stats from Wednesday’s games…
Aaron Ramsey’s injury time winner was Arsenal’s first in Europe since Bergkamp’s late goal in against Thun way back in September 2005.
Both of the Welsh man’s goals in Europe have come in injury time. His other Champions League goal came in stoppage time in 2008 against Fenerbahce.
After an hour in Marseille, Arsenal had attempted 28 crosses, none of which had found an Arsenal shirt, that was until the 91stminute when Ramsey found the net.
Fernando Torres had not scored for an incredible 875 minutes in the Champions League without scoring, his last goal in the competition came in December 2009 when he scored against Chelsea for Liverpool.
Before conceding in injury time, Marseille had not conceded a goal from an opposing player in the Champions League at home for 460 minutes.
That was Arsene Wenger’s first ever win at the Stade Veledrome, including his time at Monaco, the French man had never picked up three points in Marseille.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic joined the 25+ goals club after Wednesday’s goal. He has scored his 25 goals for 5 different clubs. He has scored 6 times for Ajax, Inter Milan and now AC Milan.
BATE Borisov coach Viktor Goncharenko (34) is younger than eight players in AC Milan’s 2011/2012 squad
Barcelona have equalled Bayern Munich’s record of scoring in 24 consecutive CL matches.
Following today’s win by Barca, only Raul (79) has won more Champions League matches than Xavi, (Giggs 68)
AC Milan2-0 BATE Borisov
Barcelona 2-0 Plzen
Bayer Leverkusen 2-1 Valencia
Chelsea 5-0 Genk
FC Porto 1-1 Apoel Nicosia
Marseille 0-1 Arsenal
Olympiakos 3-1 Borussia Dortmund
Shakhtar Donetsk 2-2 Zenit St P’sbg