PALERMO, ITALY - SEPTEMBER 11: Coach Gian Piero Gasperini of Inter Milan issues instructions during the Serie A match between US Citta di Palermo and FC Internazionale Milano at Stadio Renzo Barbera on September 11, 2011 in Palermo, Italy. (Photo by Tullio M. Puglia/Getty Images)

UEFA Champions League 2011: Real Madrid Edge Dinamo Zagreb While Trabzonspor Trip Up Inter Milan

We're done with the first round of UEFA Champions League action, with Marseille, Porto and Real Madrid all recording wins while Zenit St. Petersburg and Inter Milan suffer shock defeats.

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Dinamo Zagreb Vs. Real Madrid, 2011 UEFA Champions League: Madrid Win Tight Game

Real Madrid were fairly comfortable in beating out Croatian champions Dinamo Zagreb in their first match of the 2011 UEFA Champions League group stages, but the scoreline failed to reflect the visitors' dominance, something which made for an interesting second half as Zagreb continued to press for an unlikely equaliser. The relative minnows' willingness to attack made for something of an end to end match as Madrid batted away repeated incursions whenever their hosts pushed forwards.

It all could have been very different had Ivan Kelava not distinguished himself in goal for Zagreb - he was responsible for keeping Madrid at bay for the entirety of the first half, and pulled off what's likely to be one of the saves of this year's tournament when he leaped up to bat away Mesut Ozil's close range effort in the 29th minute having been forced to sprawl to prevent Angel di Maria's low drive seconds earlier.

Di Maria would eventually find the net with a cool finish, with Marcelo feeding the Argentine in space at the top of the area for him to curl a first time shot into the top corner, but other than that Madrid were kept at bay, with Kelava notching ten saves in the process. Zagreb clearly were not in Madrid's class, but they still threatened on the break, earning several corners as Pepe was forced into some desperate defending, and they also had one real chance to score when Ante Rukavina was released down the middle only for his shot to be stopped by Iker Casillas.

It was a fairly encouraging display by the home side, and Real Madrid will be pleased with what was, all in all, a dominating performance. A 1-0 scoreline isn't too big a deal when you've blown the opposition off the park and slung 24 shots towards their goal, after all.


Porto Vs. Shakhtar Donetsk, 2011 UEFA Champions League: Hulk, Red Cards Lead Porto To Victory

Porto have lost both Andre Villas-Boas and Radamel Falcao over the summer, but the Portuguese champions are  hardly a spent force. Any team that features Hulk is a threat, and Porto showed it at the Estadio de Dragao, despite Shakhtar Donetsk going ahead in the 12th minute thanks to a tap in by Luiz Adriano after Helton failed to hold a shot by Willian. Hulk, who had hit the post with a penalty before the opening goal, replied with a stunning free kick in the 28th minute, and when Shakhtar found themselves down to ten men thanks to a bad challenge by Yaroslav Rakitskiy on Joao Moutinho, everyone knew that it was just a matter of time before Porto got their winner.

Said winner eventually arrived through Kleber, shortly after half time, when the 21-year-old met James' Rodriguez cross to convert from very close range. Porto had complete control of the game now, and their task was made easier thanks to Dmytro Chygrynskiy picking up his second booking of the match in the 80th minute. It was a deserved win for last season's Europa League winners, even if poor finishing meant the scorline wasn't quite as glossy as it should have been.


APOEL Nicosia Vs. Zenit St. Petersburg, 2011 UEFA Champions League: APOEL Come From Behind To Earn 1st-Ever Tournament Win

In a group that features Porto, Shaktar Donetsk, and Zenit St. Petersburg, APOEL Nicosia are supposed to be the whipping boys. The Cypriots were having none of that in their opening match of the 2011 UEFA Champions League campaign, turning a 1-0 deficit at home against Zenit into a 2-1 win that turns Group G on its head with their first ever victory in the group stages.

Zenit struck shortly after the break when Konstantin Zyryanov, fed by Danny, slid home past APOEL goalkeeper Dionisis Chiotis, but a reply from the hosts was soon to follow, with Gustavo Manduca taking advantage of some sloppy play in the back to smash home the equaliser. It got better for APOEL, however - two minutes after their first goal Ailton Almeida found the back of Vyacheslav Malafeev's net as well, which was followed shortly by the dismissal of Zenit centre back Bruno Alves for a foul on the goalscorer, Alves picking up his second yellow card in the process.

The Russians spent the rest of the match trying to reverse the deficit, but nothing was happening for them, and they ended up suffering ignominious defeat in Cyprus. This result puts them in severe peril of not qualifying for the knockout rounds, because now all Shaktar and Porto need to do is not lose to Zenit and beat APOEL, and they're probably through. Oopsies.


Olympiakos Vs. Marseille, 2011 UEFA Champions League: Marseille Edge 1-0 Win

Marseille cracked a tough nut in Athens to go top of Group F, beating Olympiakos 1-0 away from home as rivals Borussia Dortmund and Arsenal shared the points in Germany. As one might expect from a game involving Olympiakos, the match wasn't exactly spectacular, involving very little in the way of interesting play. There was a goal, though, and that came shortly after halftime through the figure of Marseille playmaker Lucho Gonzalez.

In the 51st minute, Jeremy Morel broke free down the left and squared to Gonzalez in the six-yard box, who then completed the move by squeezing in a shot at Franco Costanzo's near post. It was no more than Marseille deserved - they were the better side and Olympiakos (save striker Kevin Mirallas) never looked as though they were playing for anything other than a draw. It wasn't all great news for the visitors, however - they lost Rod Fanni to a straight red card in injury time thanks to a terrible tackle on left back Jose Holebas, and he'll have to sit out a few matches thanks to suspension.

Still, three points is three points, and Marseille did their job. They got in, grabbed a goal, and got out again before their opponents could reply, something that Arsenal couldn't quite pull off in Dortmund.


Racing Genk Vs. Valencia, 2011 UEFA Champions League: Visitors Frustrated In 0-0 Draw

Sometimes, it's just not your day. So it was with Valencia, who managed to drop points to the supposed minnows of Group E in the opening game of their 2011 UEFA Champions League campaign. Racing Genk away looked like an easy start for the winners of last year's annual competition to find the best Spanish team that isn't Real Madrid or Barcelona, and in truth it should have been - Valencia swamped their opponents in terms of possession and out-shot them 22-7. However, you can score if you can't shoot straight, and the visitors mustered just four of those 22 shots on frame, barely threatening László Köteles' goal, and that's the sort of thing that leads to a 0-0 draw.

The closest Valencia came to scoring was from a second-half corner kick, when defencer Adil Rami rattled the bar with Köteles beaten, but other than that Genk defended deeply and proved very difficult to break down, with Valencia too often forced into taking low-percentage potshots from range. Anyway, the Spaniards are left to rue both their profligacy and their relative inability to break down a stubborn defence - the draw may prove very costly in the grand scheme of the group, where it looks like second place will be a battle between Valencia and Bayer Leverkusen (who lost at Chelsea).

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