Champions League round-up: Lionel Messi comes to the rescue as Barça struggle at home
James Mariner is a journalist who has been boring The Independent sports desk with mindless statistics since June 2007. Helping with various, wide-ranging desk duties (I made the tea once), supervising workies and the endless researching of panels, James has an unnatural love of all things football, and in particular the Europa League, being a Tottenham Hotspur supporter. He cites Brian Sears and Ledley King among his heroes and can even find something interesting in Burnley v Hull City. On a good day.
Thursday 20 September 2012
Four-time winners Barcelona were made to work hard for the points last night as they began their quest for a fifth European Cup, coming from behing to beat Spartak Moscow 3-2 at the Nou Camp.
Cristian Tello had curled the Spanish side in front on 14 minutes, only for Dani Alves to put through his own net. Former Celtic midfielder Aiden McGready set up Romulo to give the Russian side a shock lead with half an hour remaining. As ever, it was Lionel Messi who came to the rescue for the Catalans, slotting home Tello's pull-back before heading the winner with 10 minutes remaining.
Bayern Munich, finalists last season, also got off to a winning start, beating Valencia 2-1 at the Allianz ArenA. Bastian Schweinsteiger opened the scoring with a deflected shot before half-time and Toni Kroos doubled the advantage. Nelson Haedo Valdez grabbed an injury-time reply.
BATE Borisov are the early Group F pacesetters, easing to a 3-1 win at Lille. Aliaksandr Volodko put the visitors ahead and Vitali Rodionov extended the lead on the counter-attack. Edgar Olekhnovich added a third before Aurélien Chedjou pulled a goal back.
CFR Cluj top Manchester United's Group H, after an impressive 2-0 victory in Braga, Rafael Bastos scoring twice. In Chelsea's Group E, Shakhtar Donetsk beat Danish newcomers Nordsjaelland 2-0, Henrikh Mkhitaryan getting both.
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