Champions League Roundup, Sep 28
Nine-time winner Real Madrid took control of its Champions League group with a 1-0 victory over Auxerre on Tuesday as AC Milan was held to a 1-1 draw at Ajax.
Substitute Angel Di Maria scored in the 81st minute to clinch Madrid’s second straight win in Group G.
"We knew it would be a very hard game, I prepared it well tactically," Madrid coach Jose Mourinho said. "Six points is very important in a hard group."
The Spanish side has a two-point lead over seven-time champion Milan, which relied on Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s goal against former club Ajax to salvage a point.
Chelsea’s 2-0 victory over Marseille kept the London club top of Group F ahead of Spartak Moscow, which also has six points after beating Zilina 3-0.
Arsenal beat 10-man Partizan Belgrade 3-1 to stay top of Group H on goal difference after Shakhtar Donetsk won 3-0 at Braga.
Bayern Munich came from behind to beat Basel 2-1 thanks to Bastian Schweinsteiger’s second-half double, making it two wins out of two in Group E. AS Roma bounced back after its opening defeat to Munich to defeat Cluj 2-1 to join its Romanian opponents on three points.
Defending champion Inter Milan is in action on Wednesday at Werder Bremen in one of eight matches.
Jose Mourinho, who led Inter to its title in May, saw his new Madrid side waste a string of chances in Auxerre despite dominating possession.
Pepe almost scored an own goal with 10 minutes left by heading Kamel Chafni’s cross against the post.
But a minute later, defender Alvaro crossed from the right and Di Maria controlled it with his chest before beating goalkeeper Olivier Sorin with a powerful shot.
In Amsterdam, Ajax captain Luis Suarez gave the host the lead in the 23rd minute, darting past Alessandro Nesta after playing a one-two with Urby Emanuelson on the left flank before providing a cross for Mounir El Hamdaoui, who slotted in from close range.
But former Ajax stars Clarence Seedorf and Ibrahimovic marked their return to the Amsterdam Arena by combining to snatch an equalizer in the 37th.
At Stamford Bridge, Chelsea hit back after consecutive domestic losses with two goals inside 28 minutes to see off Marseille.
Terry flicked in Gael Kakuta’s corner at the near post and Nicolas Anelka scored a penalty kick after Stephane Mbia was adjudged to have handled Michael Essien’s cross.
"In the second half we had a few chances to make it three or four," Chelsea captain John Terry said. "We didn’t start the brightest in the second half but we stayed solid and kept a clean sheet.
"With Sunday in mind (against Arsenal) we maybe took our foot off the gas a little bit, saving a bit of energy."
Marseille is still without a point like bottom-place Zilina, which was overpowered by Spartak Moscow as Brazilian striker Ari struck twice and Ibson added another.
Injury-hit Arsenal also scored three times in Belgrade to make it nine goals in two matches. Andrey Arshavin put the visitors ahead after 15 minutes, but Cleo leveled from the penalty spot before half time after Denilson handled.
Partizan was reduced to 10 men in the 56th when Marko Jovanovic was dismissed for fouling Marouane Chamakh.
Arshavin missed the resulting penalty, but Chamakh restored Arsenal’s lead in the 71st and Sebastien Squillaci headed in the third.
Shakhtar is Arsenal’s biggest threat in Group H after sweeping aside Braga, with Luiz Adriano scoring twice in the second half before Douglas Costa, whose passes had set up the goals, rounded off the win with a 90th-minute penalty kick.
In Basel, Bayern Munich was showing just why it is languishing in ninth in the German league when Alex Frei put the hosts ahead by curling into the top corner in the 18th.
But Basel gave Bayern a route back into the game when midfielder Benjamin Huggel brought down Thomas Mueller at the start of the second half and Schweinsteiger scored from the spot.
In the 89th, Schweinsteiger twisted his body to turn Holger Badstuber’s free kick into the net.
"It doesn’t matter if the goal comes in the 70th minute or the last," said Bayern goalkeeper Joerg Butt. "The victory was earned. We obviously couldn’t be pleased with the first half, but we were able to improve significantly in the second half."
There were also late goals in the other Group E match, with Philippe Mexes firing Roma ahead in the 69th and Marco Borriello volleying in another two minutes later. Ionut Rada pulled one back for Cluj with a 78th-minute header but the visitors couldn’t find an equalizer.