Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : November 5th 2014 Contents A53
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MADRID --- A goal by
Karim Benzema gave Real
Madrid a 1-0 win against
an under-strength Liver-
pool side in the Champi-
ons League yesterday as
Cristiano Ronaldo was
held scoreless for the first
time in 13 games.
Madrid piled the pres-
sure on from the start and
Simon Mignolet made an
athletic save from James
Rodriguez's shot in the
fourth minute. But Ben-
zema broke the deadlock
when he lunged forward
to connect with a precise
pass by Marcelo in the 27th
Ronaldo failed to equal
Raul Gonzalez's Champi-
ons League scoring record
of 71 goals as he was
denied several times by
Mignolet, including on two
Brendan Rodgers made a
surprising decision to leave
Steven Gerrard, Mario
Balotelli and five other
usual starters on the bench,
apparently prioritising a
weekend Premier League
game against Chelsea. Ger-
rard and Sterling came on
as substitutes in the second
half but Liverpool never
looked likely to equalise as
Madrid controlled the
Still, it was at least a
against a team that won
3-0 at Anfield last month
and won its 12th straight
game in all competitions.
It had outscored opponents
46-7 in the previous 11
games, with Ronaldo hav-
ing scored in 12 straight
Rodgers said he had
picked the players he
thought would give the
team the best chance to
get a win, and highlighted
the fact they had kept
Ronaldo from scoring.
"We deserved a point
from the game," Rodgers
said. "The changes were
to get the team I thought
would give us a result."
Mignolet was kept busy
and denied Ronaldo for the
first time in the sixth
minute after defender
Martin Skrtel slipped and
LONDON --- Arsenal threw away a 3-
0 lead and an early place in the last 16
of the Champions League yesterday
after Anderlecht launched a stunning
comeback to draw 3-3 with a last-
With only half an hour left, goals by
captain Mikel Arteta from the penalty
spot, Alexis Sanchez and Alex Oxlade-
Chamberlain had put Arsenal in complete
control of the Group D match.
With Borussia Dortmund beating
Galatasaray, Arsene Wenger's side
appeared certain to join the Bundesliga
club in the knockout stages with two
games to spare.
Instead, two goals from Anthony Van-
den Borre, the second from the penalty
spot in the 73rd minute, hauled Ander-
lecht right back into the match as Arse-
nal's defense collapsed.
Aleksandar Mitrovic then completed
the comeback by heading in the equaliser
in the 90th minute, before celebrating
in front of the euphoric visiting fans.
It was a stark reversal from the game
in Anderlecht last month, when Arsenal
scored two late goals to snatch a 2-1 win.
Wenger blamed bad luck, tiredness
and, most of all, bad defending for the
"You have to give them (Anderlecht)
credit, they did fight until the end and
we had a poor defensive performance
from the first minute to the last today,"
Wenger said. "We never felt comfortable
and somewhere we got punished. A bit
because of bad luck, the first (Anderlecht)
goal was offside clearly, but defensively
our performance was not good enough."
Arteta, who was substituted due to a
hamstring injury, was equally critical of
"We can't afford to make these mis-
takes, it is just not good enough," Arteta
said. "It was a massive night for us to
ensure our qualification to the last 16.
We threw everything away tonight and
did not perform to the expected level of
this football club. Luckily we have two
more opportunities to amend this."
Dortmund's 4-1 win over Galatsaray
sealed its place in the knockout stages
with second-place Arsenal on seven
points, Anderlecht with two and the
Turkish side on one.
Anderlecht coach Besnik Hasi felt the
turning point came with his side's first
"We made a few changes and at 3-1
we gained in confidence," he said. "I also
have to thank our fans tonight --- even
at 3-0 down they gave us confidence,
and then we started to play. At 3-2, Arse-
nal started to have a doubt. So we really
pushed forward and we scored the goal.
"This game is going to stay in my
memory for sure. ... I'm very, very proud
of my team. They were fantastic today."
Two weeks after Arsenal was fortunate
to snatch a late victory in Belgium, Tues-
day's performance at Emirates Stadium
looked highly convincing --- at least for
the first hour.
The first goal came after Anderlecht
center half Chancel Mbemba felled Danny
Welbeck with a clumsy challenge in the
area in the 25th minute.
Arteta coolly chipped his spot-kick
down the middle as keeper Silvio Proto
dived helplessly to his right, and the
home side had taken a step toward the
Another step followed just four minutes
later, after Sanchez took a free kick that
struck the Anderlecht wall. The ball
looped high in the air and back to the
Chile striker, who smashed home a volley
that Proto got a glove to but couldn't
keep out. It was Sanchez's fifth goal in
his last three matches.
Arsenal kept up the pressure after the
re-start and was rewarded when Sanchez
won back possession outside the Ander-
lecht area, releasing Oxlade-Chamberlain
for a penetrating run and a curling shot
past Proto into the far corner.
However, defensive frailties have
marked Wenger's side this season and
they again proved costly.
Substitute Davy Roef broke down the
right flank in the 61st minute and sent
in a low cross that Vanden Borre turned
in from point-blank range --- with Arsenal
appeals for offside waved away by the
Vanden Borre then narrowed the deficit
even further from the penalty spot, giving
Szczesny no chance after Nacho Monreal
had pulled down Mitrovic in the area.
At this stage, the home side was barely
clinging on to a victory and a place in
the knockout stages. That already loose
grip was broken completely when Mitro-
vic brilliantly headed home Andy Najar's
cross into the corner of the Arsenal net
in the last minute.
"Maybe we underestimated subcon-
sciously Anderlecht and got punished,"
Wenger summed up. "That's the Cham-
pions League. You need to be at the men-
tal level ... and certainly we were not."
Anderlecht draws 3-3 at
Arsenal after trailing 3-0
Arsenal's Mikel Arteta celebrates past Anderlecht's goalkeeper Silvio Proto after
scoring on a penalty, during a Champions League, Group D soccer match between
Arsenal and Anderlecht, at the Emirates Stadium, in London, yesterday. AP PHOTO
Benzema gives Real Madrid
1-0 win over Liverpool
Benzema sent the ball to
the Portugal winger.
The goalkeeper stopped
Ronaldo again in the 35th,
punching wide a free kick
that had slipped through
the defensive wall.
Ronaldo missed another
chance when he mistimed
his run onto a lofted ball,
and Mignolet collected the
"I don't think he got
frustrated (by not scor-
ing)," Madrid coach Carlo
Ancelotti said about
Ronaldo. "I used to be
frustrated when I didn't
score, Ronaldo keeps on
scoring and I think he was
just happy that we won
Liverpool missed a
chance to draw level when
its players crowded the
area but Fabio Borini hes-
itated and defender
Raphael Varane was able
to kick the ball clear.
Skrtel fouled Ronaldo
just outside the penalty
area in the 48th but Lucas
cleared his free kick.
Ronaldo had another shot
blocked a minute later.
A clumsy challenge by
Sergio Ramos on Borini
led to a yellow card for the
defender, but the free kick
went wide in the 61st.
Gareth Bale came on for
Rodriguez in the 62nd.
Ronaldo sent an
attempt well high in the
68th after trying too hard
to prepare his shot and
had another free kick
cleared by Mignolet in the
72nd. Toni Kroos then
missed a shot from a cor-
ner.Bale hit the crossbar
with a shot from inside
the area and had a free
kick saved after being
brought down just outside
the area in the 85th.
Real Madrid's Karim Benzema, centre, celebrates with James Rodriguez after
scoring the opening goal during a Group B Champions League soccer match
between Real Madrid and Liverpool at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in
Madrid, Spain, yesterday. AP PHOTO
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