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Thursday, February 26, 2009

Champions League results

Liverpool win 1-0 at Real Madrid

Liverpool’s Xabi Alonso (left) heads the ball overReal Madrid’s Lassana Diarra (right) during a Champions League, Round of 16, first leg football match at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium in Madrid yesterday.

— AP pic

MADRID, Feb 26 ( Malaysianinsider — AP)

— Yossi Benayoun scored with a late header yesterday to give Liverpool a valuable 1-0 away win at Real Madrid in the first leg of their Champions League last 16 knockout match.

In a game of few chances, Benayoun powered Fabio Aurelio's curling free kick past Madrid goalkeeper Iker Casillas in the 82nd minute to give the English club an all-important away goal.

Casillas denied first-half scoring chances from Liverpool's Fernando Torres and Xabi Alonso, while Arjen Robben created the Spanish champion's best effort with a rising shot that went through the fingertips of goalkeeper Pepe Reina in the 71st but over the crossbar.

Both teams were largely restricted to long-range efforts. Alonso nearly caught Casillas off his line from inside his own half in the 45th but the Madrid goalkeeper backpedalled before tipping the ball over the crossbar.

Nine-time champion Madrid has underperformed in the competition in recent seasons and hasn't reached the quarter-finals since 2004. Nevertheless, president Vicente Boluda had predicted a 3-0 victory.

Madrid, which came into the match on a nine-game league winning streak, started the better of the two sides. Robben found Raul Gonzalez inside the area as early as the fifth minute, but Madrid's all-time leading scorer failed to beat Pepe Reina with his angled effort.

Reina again denied Madrid in the 16th minute, parrying Marcelo's hard drive.

Casillas dove to his right in the 21st to keep Torres' shot out, and the Spain striker appeared to hurt his right ankle soon after.

Robben was Madrid's biggest attacking threat, darting free into the middle in the 39th only to send his shot wide. A minute later, the Netherlands forward duplicated the play with exactly the same result.

Madrid coach Juande Ramos brought on Jose Maria (Guti)Gutierrez for Marcelo to start the second half but Liverpool pushed up with Alonso volleying wide in the 50th. Two minutes later, Robben dribbled through two defenders into the area but hit the ball into the side netting.

Torres didn't manage to snap his scoring drought at the Bernabeu as the former Atletico Madrid striker came off to jeers from the 80,000-plus in the 62nd, replaced by Ryan Babel.

Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard came on in the 87th for his first appearance after a three-week layoff due to a hamstring injury.

Liverpool will be without Riera for the return leg after the Spanish midfielder was booked in the 84th.

The second leg will be on March 10 at Anfield.

Chelsea defeated visiting Juventus 1-0 on a 12th minute goal by Didier Drogba, just his fourth of the season and first since Dec 26.

Giuseppe Rossi, a 22-year-old forward born in the United States, converted a tying penalty kick for Villarreal in the 67th minute of a 1-1 draw against visiting Panathinaikos after Robert Pires was fouled by Jakub Wawrzyniak. Giorgos Karagounis had scored on a 25-yard shot in the 59th that tipped off a hand of goalkeeper Diego Lopez and the crossbar before bouncing in.

Bayern Munich won 5-0 at Sporting Lisbon as Franck Ribery and Luca Toni had two goals each and Miroslav Klose scored once.

On Tuesday, defending champion Manchester United tied 0-0 at Inter Milan, Barcelona was held 1-1 at Lyon, Atletico Madrid tied 2-2 with visiting Porto and Arsenal beat visiting AS Roma 1-0. Second legs for those matchups will be March 11.

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