MADRID: Cristiano Ronaldo struck in the last minute as the Champions League’s so-called ‘group of death’ saw an appropriately dramatic start with Real Madrid hitting back from 2-1 down in the closing moments to beat Manchester City 3-2.
City looked like they might snatch a clash in which they had been outplayed when Aleksandar Kolarov struck late on. But Madrid responded to the delight of the Bernabeu as Karim Benzema levelled and Ronaldo won it at the death. Earlier The visitors had taken a 1-0 lead against the run of play through substitute Edin Dzeko in the second half but Marcelo quickly cancelled out the strike.
By contrast, Arsenal got their Champions League campaign off to a winning start after coming from behind to beat Montpellier 2-1 in France.
Captain Thomas Vermaelen gave away an early penalty which Belhanda converted but Arsenal – coached by assistant boss Steve Bould as manager Arsene Wenger sat out a touchline ban – responded through Lukas Podolski and Gervinho.
Paris Saint-Germain made a convincing start to their Group A campaign with a 4-1 victory over Dynamo Kiev at the Parc des Princes. Carlo Ancelotti’s men never looked back after establishing a three-goal lead inside 32 minutes, through Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s penalty, Thiago Silva’s close range finish and Alex’s right foot blast from Clement Chantome’s outswinging corner.
Although Miguel Veloso pulled a goal back four minutes from time, Javier Pastore wrapped up the scoring in injury-time as PSG ended an eight-year absence from European football’s top club competition in style.
Porto won the other Group A match 2-0 away to Dinamo Zagreb. Steven Defour put the seal on the win in injury-time after Luiz Gonzalez put the visitors in front four minutes before the break. The win keeps Vitor Pereira’s side unbeaten in all competitions in a run stretching back to a League Cup defeat at Benfica in March.
In Group B, Schalke opened up with a 2-1 victory over Olympiakos in Greece. Benedikt Howedes headed the German side in front four minutes before half-time and, after Djamel Abdoun equalised, Klaas Jan Huntelaar grabbed what proved to be the winner. The Holland striker then missed a penalty.
Malaga began their first ever Champions League campaign in perfect fashion as two stunning goals from Isco guided them to a 3-0 Group C win over Zenit St Petersburg at La Rosaleda.
The game was barely three minutes old when the Spanish Under-21 international bent a wonderful shot in off the inside of the post and the hosts were in dreamland when Javier Saviola slid home a second 10 minutes later.
Zenit then missed a host of opportunities to get back into the game with Roman Shirokov and Alexander Kerzhakov the main culprits and their miserable evening was rounded off when Isco thumped in a third from outside the area with 14 minutes remaining.
The other Group C match saw AC Milan’s struggles continue in a 0-0 home draw against Anderlecht.
There was late drama in Group D where Robert Lewandowski’s 87th-minute goal gave Borussia Dortmund a 1-0 victory over Ajax.
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