16 Sep 2009

Good, bad and the ugly in Champions League openers

9:05 am on 16 September 2009

The opening group matches of the European Champions League have dished up footballing fare ranging from the sublime to the ridiculous.

Two trademark set-piece goals from Portugese star Cristiano Ronaldo for Real Madrid in the highest-scoring game provided both the good and bad, the identical free kicks outrageously good shots but the FC Zurich goalkeeper also close enough to save both - all he could manage was to palm the second effort into the top of his own net.

There was more of the mundane as FC Zurich came back thanks to an extremely dubious penalty decision after striker Alexandre Alphonse went down under minimal or no contact with the Real keeper - another contentious call that should raise the same sanctions from UEFA as did Arsenal striker Eduardo's dodgy penalty against Celtic in the qualifying stages.

Real went on to win 5-2 regardless.

Elsewhere, a Paul Scholes header earned Manchester United a 1-0 win in their first Group B match against Besiktas in Istanbul, while in London a well-taken second-half goal by Nicolas Anelka gave Chelsea a 1-0 win over Porto.

Bayern Munich beat Maccabi Haifa 3-0 in Tel Aviv, Atletico Madrid were held to a 0-0 draw by debutants APOEL Nicosia and France's Bordeaux drew 1-1 at Juventus.

Two goals from Filippo Inzaghi gave AC Milan a 2-1 away win at Olympique Marseille and Brazilian striker Grafite scored a hat-trick to steer German champions VfL Wolfsburg to a 3-1 win over CSKA Moscow at Wolfsburg Arena in their first Champions League appearance.