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October 2, 2009

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Milan sinks; Real, United victorious

SEVEN-TIME European champion AC Milan suffered a stunning 0-1 home defeat by FC Zurich in the Champions League on Wednesday, piling the pressure on coach Leonardo.

There were no such problems for the other big guns as Real Madrid, helped by two more goals from Cristiano Ronaldo, Manchester United and Chelsea secured victories while Bayern Munich drew 0-0 at home with Juventus.

Milan won at Olympique Marseille in its group opener but has had a tough time domestically under new manager Leonardo with goals very hard to come by.

It was the same story on Wednesday with a sparse San Siro crowd whistling derision at their side's blunt efforts.

Milan's big names were shown up by the clever mid-air backheel of Zurich's unmarked Finnish center back Hannu Tihinen which put the Swiss side on the way to a famous victory after 10 minutes.

Substitute Gianluca Zambrotta hit the post for Milan in stoppage time but an equalizer would have merely papered over the cracks from another poor display by the 2007 champion.

"To concede a goal like that after 10 minutes complicates the game," Leonardo told a news conference.

"There are not a lot of ways to change it, we've got to be more compact. I've taken this job and I'm doing what I believe. No one put a gun to my head to take the role. We move forward. If we lose, we lose."

Both Milan and Zurich have three points and Real tops Group C on six after two more goals from red-hot Ronaldo helped it to a 3-0 home victory over Marseille.

It took Real almost an hour to break through but it did so emphatically with three goals in six minutes.

Ronaldo opened the scoring and was awarded a fortunate penalty converted by Kaka before the Portuguese winger got the third to make it nine for the season since his move from United.

His former club is managing alright without him, although the English Premier League leader had to come from behind to beat VfL Wolfsburg 2-1 at Old Trafford.

Bosnian striker Edin Dzeko headed the lively German champion into the lead 10 minutes into the second half but 35-year-old Ryan Giggs leveled with a deflected free kick.

United, looking inventive around the box after a sluggish start, clinched victory 12 minutes from time with a crisp shot by midfielder Michael Carrick.

"All the praise he's had over the years...there's nothing to add, he's an absolutely marvellous player," United manager Alex Ferguson said of evergreen Giggs.

United tops Group B with six points. Wolfsburg has three, as does CSKA Moscow after its 2-1 home win over Besiktas.

Chelsea produced a repeat of its first group game as a solitary goal by Nicolas Anelka was enough to win 1-0 at APOEL Nicosia.

The French striker, who got the only goal against Porto at Stamford Bridge, was on target after 18 minutes but Chelsea did little else against the Group D outsider.

Porto bounced back well with a 2-0 home win over Atletico Madrid to leave the fancied Spaniards up against it with just a point after two games.

Bayern missed an opportunity to take early command of Group A when it wasted a stack of chances in its goalless home draw with Juventus.

The draw took Bayern to four points and left Juve on two following its opening draw with Girondins Bordeaux.

The French champion is also on four after Michael Ciani's 83rd-minute header was enough to beat Maccabi Haifa 1-0 following an unimpressive display.


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