Manchester United and Arsenal are within touching distance of the UEFA Champions League knock-out stages after maintaining their perfect starts in the group phase. United ground out a highly impressive 4-2 victory at Dynamo Kiev while Arsenal turned on the turbo to blitz Slavia Prague 7-0.
|Wayne Rooney (R) of Manchester United FC fights for a ball with Diakhate Pape (L) of FC Dynamo Kiev (Photo: AFP)|
United were off to a dream start courtesy of England centre-back Rio Ferdinand's second goal in successive games as he rose highest to head home a Ryan Giggs free-kick on 10 minutes.
Just eight minutes later and England striker Wayne Rooney continued his recent purple patch, notching his seventh goal in his last six matches. He rounded off a sweet move down the right that saw Cristiano Ronaldo play in Wes Brown whose low cross was tapped in by Rooney.
United seemed to be in cruise control but they let the hosts back into the match on 34 minutes as Diogo Rincon converted Carlos Correa's corner with a bullet header, although United goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar was fuming that the Brazilian striker was left totally unmarked in the penalty box.
Still the hope did not last long for Dynamo as a quick break down the left four minutes from the break saw Giggs cross for an unmarked Ronaldo to head United back into a two-goal lead.
It was more of the same in the seocnd period with Argentine forward Carlos Tevez hitting the woodwork before his cross was handled in the area, allowing Ronaldo to notch his second from the spot.
Dynamo did save some face as Ismael Bangoura got a second consolation goal 12 minutes form time.
Roma beat Sporting 2-1 in the other group F match, taking the lead through Juan on 15 minutes before Liedson's 18th minute leveller. Mirko Vucinic fired the winner on 69 minutes for the Romans.
It means United need just four points from their final three games to ensure progress to the second round.
Arsenal on fire
In London Arsenal put in 60 minutes of fantasy football to kill the contest. Cesc Fabregas curled in a sumptuous strike on just five minutes past Martin Vaniak in the Slavia goal.
On 25 minutes Belarus midfielder Alexander Hleb prodded home a scrappy second and just before the break teenager Theo Walcott was gifted a third after a woeful goal-kick from Vaniak.
Any hopes of a comeback from Slavia were extinguished within 10 minutes of the restart as first Hleb and then Walcott added stunning second goals. Hleb feigned a shot with his left before cutting back and scoring with his right while Walcott ghosted past two challenges before shooting in off the far post.
Not to be outdone, Fabregas added his second on 58 minutes after a sweeping move that carried the length of the field and, inevitably, involved Hleb and Walcott, the midfield three simply tearing the visitors apart.
There was still time, though, for Danish forward Nicklas Brendtner to add a magnificent seventh.
Sevilla beat Steaua Bucharest 2-1 in the other match to move second in the group, three points behind Arsenal and three ahead of Slavia. Early goals from Frederic Kanoute and Luis Fabiano put them in the box seat before Ovidiu Petre pulled one back for Steaua after the break.
In group G Inter Milan went top of the table after a come-from-behind 2-1 victory at CSKA Moscow. Brazilian striker Joao gave the hosts the lead on 32 minutes with a lob over Inter's Brazilian goalkeeper Julio Cesar but seven minutes after the break and Argentina forward Hernan Crespo equalised from close range.
His international defensive team-mate Walter Samuel snatched the spoils 10 minutes from time, heading home a Luis Figo free-kick.
Fenerbahce and PSV Eindohoven played out a 0-0 draw in Istanbul, leaving the Turks a point behind Inter on five with PSV one more point behind that.
In group E it was honours even at Ibrox as Rangers and Barcelona played out a 0-0 draw, leaving them both on seven points from three games.
Lyon gave themselves a lifeline as they won 2-0 at Stuttgart with goals from Fabio Dos Santos and Karim Benzema, handing them their first UEFA Champions League points of the season and hope of catching one of the top two ahead of the knock-out stages.