• Champions League round-up

Nervy United win at Cluj, Chelsea romp

ESPN staff
October 2, 2012
Juan Mata scored twice for Chelsea © Getty Images

Manchester United made it two wins from as many games in the Champions League with a 2-1 victory at CFR Cluj, while Chelsea eased to a 4-0 win at Nordsjaelland.

United fell behind early on, but a brace from Robin van Persie put them in a great position to press on and qualify. Chelsea were made to work hard as well, but two goals from Juan Mata, a stunner from David Luiz and late strike from Ramires earned the champions their first win.

Chelsea should have been in front on five minutes at Nordsjaelland, but Victor Moses thumped a header against the post from three yards out.

Frank Lampard was handed the captain's armband with John Terry rested. He may not be guaranteed a regular start, but Lampard still carries an attacking threat from midfield and his late arrival on the edge of the box to meet a Mata pass almost brought the opener but his powerful strike flew over the bar.

Lampard had a hand in Chelsea's opener, as he and Fernando Torres combined to slice through the Nordsjaelland defence to tee up Mata who showed great composure to open up his body and slot home on 33 minutes.

Torres had the chance to ease Chelsea's nerves seconds before the interval but after doing superbly to find space in the box, he fired straight at the keeper and when the ball came back his way he found the back of the net but was immediately flagged for offside.

Nordsjaelland were not a redundant force as an attacking unit and Mikkel Beckmann headed over from eight yards, while Petr Cech kept his side ahead with a stunning save to keep out a curling drive from Joshua John.

Luiz ended any thoughts of a shock when firing in a superb free kick from 20 yards and a couple of minutes later, Mata capped a fine display by wriggling through and slotting home. Ramires made it four from close range in the final minute.

Manchester United did not have things all their own way on the road. Cluj made an extremely bright start, with some confident passing play causing problems for United and it came as no surprise when the Romanians took the lead. Modou Sougou served notice of his threat in the opening 10 minutes, causing issues for Patrice Evra, and he dashed past the United left back before tucking the ball back for Kapetanos to stroke past an exposed David De Gea.

A stunned United shaped to regroup and just past the 20-minute mark Wayne Rooney tested the keeper and Anderson fired narrowly wide.

It took some time for United to gain a foothold, but they drew level on 29 minutes in fortuitous circumstances. Van Persie climbed to meet a Wayne Rooney free kick, but he completely misjudged it and the ball thumped into his shoulder and looped over the keeper. The Dutchman should have put United in front before the break but after finding space in the box, lashed a left-footed strike straight at the keeper.

Five minutes after the break Van Persie made no mistake. His second, like the first owed much to Rooney who after finding space on the right played a glorious pass to his forward partner who slotted home from six yards.

Robin van Persie was the hero for Manchester United © PA Photos

De Gea was a spectator for large spells but shortly before the hour he pressed his claims for a regular start by reacting superbly to tip over a powerful header from Cadu.

United took their foot off the throttle in the final 20 minutes, but Cluj could not punish them as United made it two wins from as many games in Group H.

Georgios Samaras' last-gasp header gave Celtic a dramatic 3-2 Champions League Group G victory over 10-man Spartak Moscow in the Luzhniki Stadium.

Neil Lennon's men recorded a first away win in the group stages of the Champions League for the Parkhead club.

Celtic striker Gary Hooper gave the visitors the lead in the 12th minute before Emmanuel Emenike netted twice for the Russian club, either side of the break.

Spartak defender Juan Insaurralde was sent off just after the hour mark for preventing Hooper going clean through on goal.

Celtic levelled in the 72nd minute after a drive from substitute James Forrest, who had replaced Victor Wanyama, deflected in off Spartak captain Dmitri Kombarov and to cap a remarkable night for the Bhoys, Samaras headed in an Emilio Izaguirre cross seconds after the regulation 90 minutes.

BATE Borisov claimed one of the biggest scalps in their history after stunning in-form Bayern Munich 3-1 at the Dinamo Stadion to open up a three-point lead at the top of Group F.

Goals Alexander Pavlov and Vitaly Rodionov put the Belarusian champions in charge and although Bayern pulled one back in stoppage time through Franck Ribery, BATE added a third through Renan Bressan to seal their first ever home win in the competition.

Barcelona kept their perfect start to the season going with a 2-0 win at Benfica thanks to goals either side of half-time by Alexis Sanchez and Cesc Fabregas.

Sanchez was on hand to turn in Lionel Messi's cross after just six minutes and despite a few scares from an attack-minded Benfica they sealed the three points 10 minutes into the second period when Messi again set up Fabregas to rifle in at Artur Moraes' near post.

However, the Catalans' night was soured towards the end when captain Carles Puyol carried off on a stretcher with what appeared to be a broken arm after he landed awkwardly when attacking a corner, before Sergio Busquets was shown a straight red card two minutes from time.

Juventus could not deliver a first Champions League victory at their new stadium but the Bianconeri might count themselves lucky to have salvaged a 1-1 draw against a spirited Shakhtar Donetsk.

The Juventus Stadium hosted its first European fixture since opening last summer - despite 10,000 tickets going unsold for tonight's game - but it took a thunderbolt from defender Leonardo Bonucci to guarantee a share of the spoils after Alex Teixeira had put the Ukrainians ahead on the counter-attack.

Braga produced an away smash-and-grab to kick-start their Champions League campaign with a rare 2-0 win at Galatasaray. After Ruben Micael stabbed in a 27th-minute opener Braga soaked up the home pressure and, aided by some poor Gala finishing, sealed victory when skipper Alan netted a second in injury time.

Valencia got their Champions League campaign up and running as two goals from Jonas were enough to leave Lille ruing a host of missed first-half opportunities.

Indeed the Brazilian opened the scoring just as the French side seemed most in control of the Group F clash on 38 minutes as he swept home Roberto Soldado's deflected pass.

And the three points were assured for the hosts when Jonas' 74th-minute cross deceived Lille goalkeeper Mickael Landreau to drift in at the back post before the visitors were reduced to 10 men when Mathieu Debuchy was dismissed late on for a second booking.

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