LONDON: All four Champions League second round ties this week have sen away victories – with Bayern Munich and Atletico de Madrid succeeding at Arsenal and Milan on Wednesday night.
Spain’s Atletico handed AC Milan coach Clarence Seedorf an unhappy return to a competition he graced as a player by taking a 1-0 win with a late header from free-scoring Diego Costa.
Milan, earlier, had twice hits the posts in the second round first leg tie. Holland’s Seedorf, who won a record four Champions Leagues as a player with three different clubs, took over last month after the sacking of Massimiliano Allegri.
Arsenal lost at home to Bayern yet again, by 2-0, after their own German midfielder, Mesut Ozil, missed an early penalty.
Pep Guardiola’s world, European and German champions thus remain on course in their bid to become the first side to retain the Champions League thanks to second-half goals from Toni Kroos and Thomas Muller.
It all went wrong for Arsenal in the first half. First Ozil’s sloppy early penalty was saved by Manuel Neuer then Gunners keeper Wojciech Szczesny was sent off before half-time for fouling Arjen Robben in the area. David Alaba hit a post with his own penalty.
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said Szczesny’s red card “killed the game” against Bayern Munich and accused Arjen Robben of exaggerating the incident.
Wenger said: “Our keeper went genuinely for the ball, he touched Robben, who made certainly more of it, and I told him. It killed the game completely.”
Since August 2012 Bayern Munich have won 48 of 55 Bundesliga games, losing just once and scoring 155 times in the process.
Their European form has been almost as impressive, winning 16 out of 20 and lifting the trophy last May by beating Borussia Dortmund at Wembley.
Pellegrini under fire
** Criticism of Swedish referee Jonas Eriksson by Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini has been dismissed by FIFA referees committee chairman Jim Boyce.
Pellegrini laid into World Cup-bound Eriksson for favouring Barcelona throughout City’s 2-0 defeat at home to Barcelona on Tuesday, including the award of a penalty for their first goal.
Boyce, FIFA’s British vice-president, said: “It is absolute nonsense to say a referee should not be chosen for an important match because he comes from a smaller country. If the referee has proved himself at the top level it should not matter what country they come from.
“I saw the game and my own personal opinion is that I thought the referee had a good game. He is an experienced referee who has been chosen for the World Cup because of excellent reports of his performances in Europe.”