PARIS: Champions League holders Barcelona slumped to a stunning 2-1 defeat at home on Tuesday to Russian champions Rubin Kazan — their first in the competition in 10 months — on a night when seven of the away sides came away with a point or better.
Liverpool were another to suffer as having gone 1-0 up before half-time they slumped to their fourth successive defeat — their worst run in 22-and-a-half years — 2-1 to Lyon, with Cesar Delgado
netting in time added on.
Despite the alarming run Liverpool’s Spanish manager Rafael Benitez was defiant even in the light of the boos ringing out when he replaced goalscorer Yossi Benayoun. Lyon now look as good as in the next stage.
Both Barca’s domestic
rivals Sevilla and English
Premier League giants
Arsenal all but assured themselves of a place in the knockout stages as Sevilla romped to a 3-1 victory away at German side Stuttgart with Sebastien Squillaci notching a double. Sevilla have nine points from a possible nine.
Group G rivals Rangers look down and out after suffering their second successive heavy home defeat — 4-1 to Romanian debutants Unirea Urziceni, coached by former Chelsea star Dan Petrescu. Rangers manager Walter Smith was left deeply frustrated by the hammering which included two own goals.
Arsenal meanwhile were held at 1-1 in Holland by AZ Alkmaar — whose owner’s bank went bankrupt on Monday — failing to give manager Arsene Wenger an early 60th birthday present. Wenger’s side top Group H with seven points from three matches, a point clear of Olympiakos, who were the only home side to buck the trend by winning — a 2-1 victory at home to Standard Liege. However, while Wenger — whose birthday is on Thursday — may be upset to have conceded the late equaliser. AZ have just two points and Standard a point.
Both Inter Milan and Barcelona were behind early on. The Italians twice had to equalise with Argentinian
defender Walter Samuel getting their second shortly
after half-time after his team-mate Lucio had scored an own goal to give Dynamo Kyiv a 2-1 lead at half-time.
Barca had former Inter hero Zlatan Ibrahimovic to thank for putting them back on level terms with Rubin Kazan shortly after half-time as the Swedish star netted to rub out Alexander Ryazantsev’s second minute effort. However, unbelievably it was the visitors who appeared to take strength from this and struck with a second goal through Gokdeniz Karadeniz 17 minutes from the final whistle.
Barca coach Pep Guardiola was philosophical about
the defeat which sees
them sharing top spot with Rubin and Dynamo while Inter are a point behind. “Any team can beat another one in football,” said Guardiola.