Holders AC Milan start UEFA Champions League campaign with a win

By Xinhua

London : Holders AC Milan scored a 2-1 home win over Benfica to start their title defence of the UEFA Champions League football.

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At Milan’s San Siro, Filippo Inzaghi took his personal goals tally in European club football to 60 with his side’s second goal Tuesday night after Andrea Pirlo opened the scoring in the Group D clash.

Milan, bidding for an eighth European Cup crown, had the game under control after 23 minutes thanks to Pirlo’s free kick and a trademark finish from Inzaghi.

“Pirlo scored a goal, had an assist and played the ball around well. He is an irreplaceable player. Kaka and Pirlo are a good double act,” said Milan coach Carlo Ancelotti.

However, the hosts failed to stand atop the group as Shakhtar Donetsk beat Celtic 2-0 at home after striker Brandao scored the opener five minutes into the game.

The result means Scottish side Celtic have lost 13 of their 14 away matches in the Champions League.

Inzaghi’s former Milan team mate Andriy Shevchenko also hit the 60-goal mark when he scored Chelsea’s equaliser for a 1-1 home draw with Rosenborg Trondheim in Group B.

Both strikers are two goals short of the European scoring record held by German great Gerd Mueller.

Shevchenko’s header in the 53rd minute saved Chelsea from suffering a home defeat against Norwegians Rosenborg at Stamford Bridge.

The visitors took a shock lead through Miika Koppinen’s flick in the 24th minute and Jose Mourinho’s side wasted chance after chance to equalise.

“The story of the match is … we couldn’t score two goals in 20 chances and we could not defend a set piece,” Mourinho lamented.

David Villa scored the winner to put Valencia atop the Group B with an away win against Schalke 04.

Real Madrid’s Raul is just one goal behind Inzaghi and Shevchenko after heading his side’s first goal in a 2-1 Group C victory for the nine-time champions at home to Werder Bremen.

Netherlands striker Ruud van Nistelrooy struck 16 minutes from time to mark the club’s 300th game in Europe’s elite competition with a victory, and atop of the group.

Lazio drew 1-1 in Greece against Olympiakos Piraeus in a match played behind closed doors because of crowd trouble in a game last season.

In Group A, Liverpool, beaten by Milan in last season’s final, began with a 1-1 draw in Porto, playing most of the second half with 10 men after winger Jermaine Pennant was sent off.

The group’s other match ended in a 2-0 home victory for Olympique Marseille against Besiktas.