Thu, Oct 04, 2012 - Page 18 News List

UEFA Champions League: Valencia triumph at home, while Celtic, SC Braga win away

AFP and AP, VALENCIA, Spain, MOSCOW and ISTANBUL, Turkey

A goal in either half from Brazilian forward Jonas Oliveira reignited Valencia’s UEFA Champions League Group F hopes on Tuesday, cementing a 2-0 win over LOSC Lille Metropole of France.

Valencia started off their campaign with a 2-1 loss at Bayern Munich, but the three points put them right back into the mix.

Jonas bagged his first eight minutes from the break after taking a pass from Roberto Soldado.

Lille, beaten at home by BATE Borisov in their opening fixture, did not wilt, though, and they were almost level three minutes later.

Senegal international Idrissa Gueye fed Dimitri Payet, but his first-time effort just kissed the side netting with Vicente Guaita, who had earlier smothered a long-range drive from Franck Beria, beaten in the Valencia goal.

Soldado should have made it 2-0 just after the hour mark, but he sent a free header over.

However, the hosts made the pressure tell at the Estadio Mestalla when Algerian star Sofiane Feghouli found Jonas, who shrugged off Aurelien Chedjou before flicking a cross shot over veteran Lille goalkeeper Mickael Landreau 14 minutes from time.

To compound the visitors’ misery they had fullback Mathieu Debuchy sent off for a second bookable offense in the closing stages as his frustration boiled over, having already received a first yellow just before the interval for fouling Aly Cissokho.

In Moscow, a last-minute goal by Giorgos Samaras gave Celtic their first ever away win in 21 UEFA Champions League games as they defeated 10-man Spartak Moscow 3-2.

The Greece international headed home to seal a famous win for the Scottish champions — who ended a losing run of 11 successive away Champions League losses since drawing in Barcelona in 2004 — and complete a great second-half comeback.

That had been sparked when trailing 2-1 — thanks to an Emmanuel Emmenike brace — when French referee Tony Chapron sent off Spartak defender Juan Insaurralde just after the hour mark for bringing down Gary Hooper, who had given Celtic the lead early in the first half, and substitute James Forrest equalized 10 minutes later.

“My players played exciting football tonight,” Hoops manager Neil Lennon said. “It’s fantastic that we managed to battle back and win in the second half, as we were playing against very strong opponents.”

In Istanbul, Turkey, Ruben Micael and Osorio Alan scored to give SC Braga a 2-0 win over Galatasaray for the Portuguese team’s first points in Group H.

Galatasaray dominated the match until Micael put the visitors ahead in the 27th minute after Antonio Eder penetrated the Turkish side’s defense and passed the ball to Ruben Amorim, whose shot was blocked by goalkeeper Nestor Fernando Muslera. The ball fell to Micael, who knocked a low shot into the empty net.

“They put us under intense pressure from the first minutes,” Braga manager Jose Peseiro said. “Our defense was strong. We would have liked to have controlled the ball more, [but] I believe it was a deserved win.”

Alan secured the win in the fourth minute of stoppage-time on a counterattack after taking a pass from the left.

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