Goals galore as Champions League equals record

October 22, 2008

BRUSSELS, Oct 21 (Reuters) - The Champions League burst into life on Tuesday with 36 goals in eight matches, including 24 in just three games, to equal a competition record with Villarreal leading the goal fest thanks to a 6-3 victory over AaB Aalborg.

Olympique Lyon beat Steaua Bucharest 5-3 in Romania while Arsenal thrashed Fenerbahce 5-2 in Turkey as the competition equalled a goalscoring record set on Sept. 13 2000.

Manchester United enjoyed a 3-0 win over Celtic at Old Trafford after a second Champions League double in a row from Dimitar Berbatov kept the European champions top of Group E.

Villarreal substitute Joseba Llorente's hat-trick helped the Spanish side keep pace in the same group as they overwhelmed their Danish opponents having gone behind to an early goal.

Alessandro Del Piero and Amauri gave Juventus a 2-1 win over Real Madrid in Group H in Turin where Ruud Van Nistelrooy pulled a goal back for the visitors who could not find an equaliser. Juve are top on seven points with Real just a point behind.

Zenit St Petersburg were held 1-1 by BATE Borisov in Tuesday's early kickoff in that group, leaving the Russian UEFA Cup holders bottom on one point with their Belarussian opponents also struggling a mere point above them in the standings.

Bayern Munich beat Fiorentina 3-0 to stay top of Group F on seven points, two points ahead of Lyon who overcame Steaua with two goals each from Karim Benzema and substitute Fred. Fiore are third on two points while the Romanians have just one point.

Manchester United's Berbatov pounced on the half-hour and got a second in the 51st minute at Old Trafford before England forward Wayne Rooney wrapped up the win in the 76th with his ninth goal in seven games for club and country.

Manager Alex Ferguson was fulsome in his praise of the Bulgaria striker, who added to his double strike against Aalborg on his Champions League debut for the English champions.

"He was fantastic. It was a marvellous performance again. He's bringing that composure to the last third of the field and his decision-making and passing are excellent," he said.

Celtic have now lost 18 of their last 19 away games in the Champions League.

In the other Group E game at the Madrigal, Villarreal triumphed thanks to goals from Giuseppe Rossi and Joan Capdevila in a five-minute spell before Llorente came off the bench to score three times while Robert Pires also netted late on.

"We suffered a lot. These games against supposedly inferior sides are always tough," Llorente told Canal Plus. "We didn't play well in the first half but were much improved in the second."

United and Villarreal are level on seven points after three matches with Celtic trailing with just one point along with Aalborg at the halfway stage in the group.

Arsenal remained in pole position in Group G after their demolition of Fenerbahce in Istanbul ended the Turkish club's 15-match unbeaten home record in Europe.

Emmanuel Adebayor and Theo Walcott scored early on before Abou Diaby, Alexandre Song and Aaron Ramsey wrapped up the win. Mikael Silvestre's deflected own goal mattered little.

"We came here and tried to dictate the game in a very heated atmosphere. I'm very proud of that," Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger told a news conference. "Our pace movement and technique made all the difference".

The English side have seven points, two ahead of Dynamo Kiev who beat Porto 1-0 away. The struggling Portuguese have three points and Fenerbahce just one point after three games.