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Saturday, 20 September 2008

Squarefootball Diary - Tuesday September 16 2008

Chelsea's bid to go one better than in last season's Champions League begins well with a thumping 4-0 home win over Bordeaux in Group A.

Frank Lampard, Joe Cole, Florent Malouda and Nicolas Anelka are all on target for Luiz Felipe Scolari's side, not that it impresses the man himself all that much;

"We did not control the game enough, we let them have too much of the ball, especially in the second half." he complains.  Perhaps a look at the other result in the group might cheer him up as main rivals Roma crash to a sensational 2-1 defeat by competition new boys CFR Cluj of Romania.

Liverpool made hard work of reaching the knockout stage last season, only securing their place after a 4-0 win in Marseille in their final group game.  Returning to Marseille for this year's opener the Reds find the French outfit a much tougher proposition, having to fight back from a goal down before securing a 2-1 win.  Lorik Cana beats a shoddy offside trap to put Eric Gerets' side ahead on 23 minutes, before The Steven Gerrard Show begins.

The England man first conjures a ridiculous curling drive into the top corner from Dirk Kuyt's awkward pull-back, before converting a penalty won by Ryan Babel after a hopeful punt by Jamie Carragher;

"Gerrard's first goal was amazing. A fantastic goal." admits a startled Rafa Benitez.

Joining Liverpool as opening day winners in Group D are Atletico Madrid who brush aside PSV Eindhoven 3-0 in Holland.

Group B leaders are Jose Mourinho's much fancied Inter Milan.  The Italians earn a 2-0 win over Panathinaikos in Athens while Champions League debutants Anorthosis Famagusta of Cyprus earn a creditable 0-0 in Bremen against Werder.

Barcelona's 3-1 win over Sporting Lisbon sees them off to a fast start in Group C, and there is victory for Shakhtar Donetsk of Ukraine who beat Basle 2-1.

In the UEFA Cup FC Schalke, Olympiacos and Hertha Berlin take a giant stride towards the group stages with convincing first leg successes over Apoel Nicosia, FC Nordsjaelland and St.Patrick respectively.

Back home there is a busy night of Championship action.  Birmingham City and Wolverhampton Wanderers continue their good starts to the season with 2-1 wins over Bristol City and Crystal Palace respectively, while Reading signal their intentions with a 6-0 thumping of Sheffield Wednesday at the Madejski Stadium.  Cardiff City win 1-0 away to Barnsley in a repeat of last season's FA Cup semi-final, and there's more misery in South Yorkshire as Doncaster Rovers fall by the only goal at home to Charlton Athletic. 

Burnley have some Lancashire bragging rights after beating Blackpool 2-0 at Turf Moor, with Preston North End also winning 2-1 against Nottingham Forest.  Watford endure another disappointment with a 2-1 home loss to Plymouth Argyle, while there are 1-1 draws between Sheffield United and Coventry City and Swansea City and Derby County.

In League One Cheltenham are kings of Gloucester after beating Bristol Rovers 2-1 and Stockport County draw 1-1 with Northampton Town.

By Stephen Orford

20 September 2008

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