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Gunners win, big guns scrap it out

BARCELONA had to scrap for a 1-1 draw at Olympique Lyon and Manchester United was frustrated in a goalless tie at Inter Milan as the Champions League returned with a lack of respect for reputation on Tuesday.

While Barcelona needed an untidy goal from Thierry Henry to take a slim advantage from the first leg of its last-16 tie against Lyon, defending champion United failed to take advantage of a early chances in Milan.

United did extend its unbeaten run to a record 20 Champions League matches but manager Alex Ferguson again failed to get the better of Jose Mourinho and the Red Devils will have to tread carefully in the second leg at Old Trafford.

The other two ties are also well poised after Porto twice came from behind to draw 2-2 at Atletico Madrid and Arsenal produced the only victory of the night ?? 1-0 at home to Roma thanks to a Robin van Persie penalty.

Barcelona's elegant passing game, similar to the one that took Spain to victory at Euro 2008, has been the envy of Europe this season but its form has deserted them lately and it made another jittery start against Lyon.

The French side took the lead from a source familiar to anyone following the Champions League down the years, as the game's leading set-piece specialist Juninho deceived Victor Valdes with a dipping free-kick from the left.

Barcelona was terrible in the first half and Karim Benzema came within a whisker of making it 2-0 but it improved after the break and got a deserved equalizer when French striker Henry stooped to head in a deflected corner.

The away goal gave Barcelona, twice former champions, a slim advantage to take to the Nou Camp in two weeks.

"We missed our chance in the first half, when we should have been rewarded for our efforts but we gave everything," said Lyon coach Claude Puel. "(In the return leg) we will have opportunities."

The two English sides in action may also have cause to rue missed opportunities.

United was last beaten in a Champions League match when it lost 0-3 away to AC Milan in 2007 but a similar result from its latest trip to the San Siro never looked on the cards.

Cristiano Ronaldo forced a point-blank save from Inter keeper Julio Cesar and the chances came thick and fast for United in the first half.

Mourinho, whose Porto side knocked out United on its way to winning the Champions League in 2004, inspired a huge improvement in the second half but United came desperately close to a winner when Ronaldo's last-gasp free-kick was beaten away.

Arsenal was the only winners but it should have been a more commanding victory. The Gunners had to be content with the penalty from van Persie, which the Dutchman won himself when he was bundled over by defender Philippe Mexes in the 37th.

Goals were plentiful in Madrid, where Atletico and twice former champions Porto fought out a thriller.

Atletico hit the ground running, Maxi Rodriguez giving it the lead in the third minute before Lisandro Lopez burst through to put the Portuguese side level. A mistake from Porto keeper Helton let Diego Forlan's weak shot slither in at the end of the first half but Porto came back again with Lopez turning in Aly Cissokho's low cross.


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