It was a weekend of contrasting fortunes for some of the sides returning to UEFA Champions League play-off action this week, with FC Bayern München racking up a commanding win, Arsenal FC beaten at home and Olympique Lyonnais held to a draw.
Bayern warmed up for Tuesday's trip to face FC Zürich – whom they lead 2-0 – with a scintillating 5-0 success against Hamburger SV, wide men Arjen Robben and Franck Ribéry proving especially troublesome for the visitors. "There were no areas for improvement," said Robben afterwards. "We can be very pleased with the football we've played." Also victorious, champions Borussia Dortmund returned to winning ways with a 2-0 defeat of 1. FC Nürnberg, while SV Werder Bremen won an eight-goal epic against SC Freiburg and FC Schalke 04 fought back from 2-0 down to prevail 4-2 at 1. FSV Mainz 05.
Bayern's mood of optimism is certainly not shared at Arsenal, where Arsène Wenger's men have yet to score two games into the Premier League season. Down to ten men after the 70th-minute dismissal of Emmanuel Frimpong, the Gunners lost 2-0 at home to Liverpool FC and must raise spirits as they set out to defend a 1-0 lead in Wednesday's play-off decider at Udinese Calcio. Group stage entrants Chelsea FC and Manchester City FC fared much better, on the other hand, Chelsea edging West Bromwich Albion FC 2-1 and City posting a 3-2 triumph at Bolton Wanderers FC.
Lyon's task will be to build on their 3-1 first-leg win against FC Rubin Kazan in Russia on Wednesday, and they geared up for that match with a 1-1 draw at Stade Brestois 29. There was also frustration for Olympique de Marseille as they recorded their third straight draw, a goalless stalemate at home against AS Saint-Étienne, but there were first victories of the campaign for both champions LOSC Lille Métropole and Paris Saint-Germain FC. Montpellier Hérault SC are the early pacesetters, however, having beaten Stade Rennais FC 4-0 to emerge as the only Ligue 1 side still protecting a perfect record.
In Russia, Lyon's opponents Rubin also drew 1-1, away against FC Amkar Perm, and that result dropped them down to sixth in the standings. PFC CSKA Moskva continue to lead the way by two points as their 3-0 defeat of FC Tom Tomsk coincided with a 5-2 success for closest pursuers FC Zenit St Petersburg at PFC Krylya Sovetov Samara. Over in Denmark, meanwhile, leading duo FC København and Odense BK won as well, boosting confidence ahead of their respective play-off contests with FC Viktoria Plzeň and Villarreal CF.
Likewise, there were big victories for SL Benfica and FC Twente, who will resume their rivalry locked at 2-2 in Portugal on Wednesday. Benfica downed Feirense 3-0 on a weekend that produced a 3-1 defeat of Gil Vicente FC by UEFA Super Cup contenders FC Porto, while Twente triumphed 5-1 at sc Heerenveen to go top of the Eredivisie. For their part, Dutch titleholders AFC Ajax drew 2-2 at VVV-Venlo.
Belgian champions KRC Genk have been finding the going tough so far this term and that trend continued as they succumbed 3-2 at Cercle Brugge KSV, hardly ideal preparation for their home decider with Maccabi Haifa FC, who followed up their 2-1 first-leg win by overcoming Hapoel Petach-Tikva FC 3-1. Elsewhere, there was a surprise 1-0 home reverse for Celtic FC at the hands of Saint Johnstone FC, which allowed Rangers FC to make an early move to the Scottish summit via a 3-0 triumph at Motherwell FC.
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