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Group A
Arsenal 1-2 Auxerre

The 2-1 win for the French side sees them leapfrog PSV into third place in Group A and although they lie three points behind Borussia Dortmund, that position could change when the sides meet in three weeks time.

For Arsene Wenger’s side, the setback should not prove too costly; they still leadthe group and look set to qualify for the next stage. However, successive defeats in domestic and European foootball have certainly demolished their aura of invincibility.

Auxerre, for whom Philippe Mexes provided a masterful defensive performance, always looked the brighter of the two sides and it came as no surprise when took an early lead. The goal came on 8 minutes when Kapo nutmegged Patrick Vieira on the edge of the Arsenal penalty area before unleashing an unstoppable left-foot shot past David Seaman.

Khalilou Fadiga doubled the lead midway through the first-half, when he was first to react to a spinning ball in the Arsenal box, before lofting the ball above Seaman.

Arsenal had several chances to reduce the arrears, notably when Kanu was put through on goal but the Nigerian’s finishing was wayward and Auxerre survived to the break with their two goal lead intact.

Kanu did pull one goal back when set up by Henry early in the second-half but that was as good as it got for Arsenal. Even a late appearance from Robert Pires, playing his first match for seven months, could not galvanise the Gunners into a response and Auxerre held on for a deserved victory.

Wily old Auxerre coach Guy Roux, was delighted with his team’s performance. “I am very happy,” said the Roux. “This is an important result because it is the first time we have won in England.”

“We played a lot better than we did in the last game,” said Roux.

“But there was no magic to the result. It was the end of the game that surprised me most. The ball-to-feet, continental style of Arsenal had disappeared. The way you win is secondary to the result, but I felt that we managed to control the game reasonably well after scoring the two goals.”

“We must give credit to Auxerre,’ said Wenger who yesterday celebrated his 53rd birthday.

‘They started well because physically they were quite sharp. We paid the price for this at the beginning of the game. We dominated in the second half and we gave absolutely everything. But we finished a little jaded in the final 20 minutes.”

Borussia Dortmund 1-1 PSV Eindhoven

Dortmund remain second in the group after the draw, two points adrift of Arsenal while PSV drop below Auxerre and almost certainly out of this year’scompetition.

Jan Koller’s headed hom an early opener for the German side but Arnold Bruggink cancelled out that effort when he hit a fiercely-struck shot from the edge of the penalty area.

Dortmund coach Matthias Sammer was unhappy with his side’s performance, particularly their efforts in the second-half.

“In the first half we played really well, defended deep and tried to hit PSV on the break,” he said.

“Going into half-time with only one goal to show for our efforts was simply not enough.”

“PSV played well in the second half, knowing they had to win, and they were lifted by the half-time score from Arsenal, so came out to attack. However, I am furious that four players simply stood around in the opponents’ penalty area after missing a chance in the last minute. It is alright to be angry, but wait until after the game.”

His counterpart, Guus Hiddink, believed a point was the least his side deserved.

“First of all I must say that Dortmund were in control of the first half, had two or three good chances, and we were lucky to only be a goal down at half-time,’ said Hiddink.

“After the break I made some changes and they paid off. We tried to play more offensively, put Dortmund under a lot of pressure but were not sharp enough in front of goal. We dominated the second half.”

Group B
Basle 2-2 Valencia

“We kept our concentration and played a good match on the whole, until that red card for Ayala,” Benitez said.

For goalscorer Ergic, attention has already switched to the trip to Moscow, amatch Basle may have to win if they are to maintain their interest in the competition.

“Of course, I am happy to have scored twice, but more importantly the team has done a good job tonight,” the Yugoslavian midfield player said.

“It will still be difficult for us to finish second, especially after Liverpool won in Moscow. But we will travel to Moscow and hope to win, despite unfavourable weather conditions there.”

Spartak Moscow 1-3 Liverpool

Although Spartak led through Aleksandr Danishevski, Owen’s three goals, all from close range, meant they became the first side eliminated from the first group stage of the Champions League. Liverpool are now xlear in second spot, two points ahead ofBasle who they must face in three weeks time.

Liverpool coach Gerard Houllier was impressed with the quality of the opposition.

‘Spartak surprised us – they have talented young players – just give them some time,’ said Houllier. ‘(Vladimir) Beschastnykh had an interesting midfield role and (Alexandr) Pavlenko is very good. They are are a tricky team with skilful players who know how to use the ball. If we’d let them play their game we’d have had problems.

“Spartak started very strongly,’ the Liverpool coach added. ‘They had nothing to lose and fully deserved the first goal, but we never let our heads drop. In the second half we were much better, we took our chances and showed great professionalism. We were patient, played our game and waited for our chances.”

Group C
Real Madrid 2-2 AEK

Steve McManaman’s first-half double looked to be enough for Madrid but the Greek side fought back gamely and claimed a point through goals from Konstantinos Katsouranis and Walter Centeno. The match marked the first Champions League performance in a Real shirt for Ronaldo, but despite setting up McManaman’s second goal, the Braziilian was a peripheral figure for much of the game.

AEK Athens coach Dusan Bajevic was elated with his team’s comeback.

“It worked very well,” said Bajevic. “I tried to put Ilija Ivic up against RobertoCarlos to give him problems. And I think he surprised Real Madrid.”

. “We did not expect this result in Madrid, although my team fought a lot and deserved it,’ added Bajevic. ‘I have to congratulate my players because of their effort.

“Real Madrid are one of the strongest teams in the world and it is very important for our confidence to have obtained something positive. I expect to maintain it over the next weeks. We can now dream about qualifying and I think we can get it if we continue working and fighting as we have done tonight.”

Real coach Vicente del Bosque admitted that AEK performed well enough to deserve a point.

“I think AEK have done a very good job and they deserved it,” he said.

“We were a little tired in the closing minutes. My players were too self-confident, they relaxed a little and AEK took advantage.”

Roma 0-0 Genk

Group D
Ajax 1-1 Rosenborg

Lyon 3-3 Internazionale

Two goals apiece from Lyon’s Sonny Anderson and Inter’s Hernan Crespo’s in addition to Lyon’s Eric Carrierre and an own goal from Claudio Cacapa,ensured the spoils were shared. The result leaves Group D wide open with all four sides in with a chance of reaching the next stage.

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