• Champions League round-up

Ronaldo sinks City, Arsenal win

ESPN staff
September 18, 2012 « Belfort: Bisping is an old school UFC warrior | Chartbeat test »

There was mixed news for the English teams in the Champions League, as Arsenal beat Montpellier 2-1 - but Real Madrid climbed off the canvas to beat Manchester City.

The Gunners came from behind, with Lukas Podolski and Gervinho sealing the win - while City led on two occasions but a Cristiano Ronaldo goal in the final minute earned Real a 3-2 win.

Arsene Wenger had to watch his Arsenal side from the stands due to his touchline ban and he would have been sat uncomfortable in his seat on nine minutes as Younes Belhanda won a soft penalty under challenge from Thomas Vermaelen. The protests were lengthy, but Belhanda kept his cool and outfoxed Vito Mannone by dinking the ball down the middle to put his side ahead.

The Stade de la Mosson was bouncing, but Arsenal's response was swift and it dampened the home fans' fervour. A slick passing move ended in Podolski slamming home with authority.

Montpellier hardly had time to shake off the setback when they fell behind. Gervinho won the ball on the right, laid it off and carried on his run into the box. He was rewarded for his endeavour as Carl Jenkinson stroked the ball across the face of the six-yard box for the forward to slot home.

Arsenal lived a charmed life in the second half, as Remy Cabella squandered a superb chance - shooting wide after robbing Abou Diaby on the edge of the box.

Anthony Mounier found space behind the Arsenal back line but lacked the composure with his finish, while Cabella showed brilliant feet to dink a shot over Mannone that thudded against the bar.

But the best chance was passed up by goalscorer Belhanda with 10 minutes remaining. The ball found its way to the Montpellier forward's feet five yards from goal with only Mannone to beat. He set himself but somehow scuffed his shot straight at the Arsenal keeper.

At the Bernabeu, City played their part in an epic encounter but ultimately came away with nothing. Real battered Roberto Mancini's side early on, with Ronaldo tormenting the City back line.

The visitors weathered the storm and Yaya Toure carried the fight with some rampaging runs from deep. He served notice in the first half only to squander chances with some poor passing. He got it right on 69 minutes as he galloped forward before playing in Edin Dzeko who finished with aplomb.

The lead was short lived as Marcelo curled a shot past Joe Hart, albeit with the aid of a deflection. The see-saw nature of the game saw a wicked free kick from Aleksandar Kolarov deceive Iker Casillas and squirt into the corner.

Cristiano Ronaldo was the scurge of Real Madrid © PA Photos
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Real introduced Karom Benzema and he gave a lesson in finishing with a brilliant strike from 18 yards and in the final minute Ronaldo cut in and drilled home a low shot that Hart could not handle.

In Group D's other game, Borussia Dortmund required a late goal from Robert Lewandowski to secure a 1-0 win over Ajax. It had appeared that the Bundesliga side would have to settle for a point at home to the group outsiders after Mats Hummels missed a second-half penalty, but Poland striker Lewandowski finally made the breakthrough in the 87th minute to secure a valuable victory.

The pressure on AC Milan boss Massimiliano Allegri increased as the Serie A giants were held to a 0-0 draw at home by Anderlecht. Milan have made a poor start to the new season since allowing a number of big-name players to leave the club, and there was no sign of improvement against the Belgians, with the home fans booing their team's tentative performance.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Thiago Silva, two of the stars to have departed the San Siro, were on target as Paris Saint Germain eased to a 4-1 win over Dynamo Kiev. Ibrahimovic fired home the opener from the penalty spot and Thiago Silva, making his debut, doubled their advantage. Alex then made it 3-0 and, while Miguel Veloso reduced the arrears late on, Javier Pastore completed the rout in injury time.

Malaga, plunged into financial turmoil in the summer, continued their remarkable start to the new season with a 3-0 win over Zenit St Petersburg at La Rosaleda. Zenit signed Hulk and Axel Witsel to bolster their European hopes for the 2012-13 campaign, but the big-spenders found themselves a goal down inside three minutes when Isco scored a stunning opener. Javier Saviola extended their advantage on ten minutes and, after Zenit missed a host of chances, Malaga wrapped up victory 14 minutes from time as Spain Under-21 international Isco scored another long-range effort.

Schalke secured a hard-fought 2-1 victory over Olympiakos. Benedikt Howedes had headed home the opener shortly before half-time and, after Djamel Abdoun's equaliser, Netherlands striker Klaas Jan Huntelaar delivered the decisive goal.

Porto, the 2004 champions, claimed a 2-0 victory over Croatian side Dinamo Zagreb. Midfielder Lucho Gonzalez put Porto into the lead four minutes before the break, and Belgium international Steven Defour put the result beyond doubt with a further goal in injury time.

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