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Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Liverpool failed in Istanbul

The Champions League night saw Liverpool Football Club make an unsuccessful return to Istanbul as they lost 3-2 to Galatasaray despite two goals from veteran frontman Robbie Fowler.

Spanish coach Rafa Benitez opted to rest a number of first-team regulars, with the Reds already safely through to the knockout stages of the competition.

As we saw, the opening minutes of the clash saw little action in either goalmouth, with neither side having much to play for.

But the encounter burst into life after 22 minutes as Craig Bellamy found space down the left and his ball into the area was bundled home from close range by Fowler.

And within two minutes it was 1-1 as Xabi Alonso's poor pass was intercepted by Necati Ates, who raced clear to beat Jerzy Dudek with a low shot.

It's important to see that three minutes later Gala were 2-1 in front as a corner from the right was only half-cleared and Okan Buruk volleyed home superbly from 25 yards out with his right foot.

The home team almost got a third right on half-time as Dudek blocked Sabri's shot with his legs after some sloppy play in defence.

Furthermore, Gala went close again eight minutes into the second half as Ergun's free-kick in from the left was headed against the far post by Umit Karan, with Dudek well beaten.

And eleven minutes from time it was 3-1 to the home side as substitute Mehmet Guvan got clear on the right and his cutback into the area gave fellow replacement Sasa Ilic an easy finish.

That was game over for Liverpool, but they at least kept fighting until the final minute, when Jermaine Pennant found space on the right flank and his stand-up cross was headed home at the far post by Fowler.

Barcelona beat Bremen and advanced in Group A

The defending Champions Laegue king, FC Barcelona, avoided becoming the first European champions to be knocked out at the group stage with a Group A win over Werder Bremen while Chelsea defeated Levski to assure the first place in the group.

In the city of Barcelona, Ronaldinho fired the home side into the lead on 13 minutes when he slid a free kick beneath a leaping Werder Bremen wall, the ball rolling past a helpess Tim Wiese in the German goal.

And just five minutes later, Eidur Gudjohnsen tucked home the second goal for Barcelona when he touched home a pass from the right by French striker Ludovic Giuly.

In fact, the German team improved in the second half, but Barcelona continued to be the best side with Wiese having to make several nice plays to keep the scoreline respectable.

In the other game of the group, Chelsea defeated Levski 2-0. The Bulgarian team's first foray into the Champions League ended pointless after they were beaten by a superior Chelsea side at Stamford Bridge.

Indeed, Ukrainian forward Andriy Shevchenko was able to put the Blues in front in the 27th minute after punching home a pass by Frank Lampard from inside the penalty area.

We must mention that Levski's defense held out well for much of the game although Chelsea were clearly the better of the two teams, and they managed to add a deserved second goal seven minutes from time when striker Shaun Wright-Phillips bagged the score.