FC Barcelona might have marched into the UEFA Champions League second group stage last night, alongside Manchester United FC and AC Milan, but the Spanish press thought it a little early to strike up tunes of glory.
Frank de Boer's goal sealed a 1-0 home win over FC Lokomotiv Moskva - Barcelona's fourth victory in as many Group H games. Yet according to the football daily Marca, it was one of few high notes at Camp Nou. "[Roberto] Bonano and [Carlos] Puyol save sorry Barça," it moaned. "Lokomotiv deserved a better result and that they didn't was down to Bonano and Puyol."
No Madrid crisis
Nor were reigning European champions Real Madrid CF exempt from criticism after their 2-2 home draw with AEK Athens FC in Group C. AEK became the first European team to come back from two goals down at the Santiago Bernabéu in 34 years - and, said the Eleftheros Typos newspaper, "stunned Europe". "There is no crisis here," was the reply from Madrid coach Vicente del Bosque.
The minor cavil in the English press was that Manchester United "graciously allowed Olympiakos [Piraeus FC] back into a match in which the Greek team had barely participated". So, reported the Daily Telegraph, it was left to Paul Scholes to maintain the "perfect record" with a late winner in a 3-2 Group F success.
No Liverpool moaners
The Liverpool Echo said "Hats off to Owen" after Michael Owen's hat-trick secured a 3-1 Group H victory for Liverpool FC at FC Lokomotiv Moskva. Manager Gérard Houllier doffed his cap to the whole team, telling the paper: "Now I've got a team of men, not moaners or children." Although it was Newcastle United FC who arguably claimed the prize English scalp with an "epic victory over the champions of Italy", Juventus FC, in Group E. "Newcastle cut pride of Italy down to size," headlined the Telegraph.
Milan sit pretty
However, the Gazzetta dello Sport saw things differently. Apparently, "Juventus froze against an English team playing the English way" but still "missed many chances." The pink reserved its praise for Milan - sitting pretty on 12 points at the top of Group G - and striker Filippo Inzaghi in particular. "With his 16th goal in ten games, and 43rd overall in Europe, Inzaghi sent Milan into the second group stage with two matches to spare."
Bayern dream dies
The latest victim of the "inexorable Inzaghi" were FC Bayern München, beaten 2-1 at the San Siro. Now Ottmar Hitzeld's team "must hope for a miracle". That was the view of Süddeutsche Zeitung, while the Abendzeitung ran the lapidary headline: "The dream is over." While Bayern are bottom of their pool, Bayer 04 Leverkusen are second in Group F after a "trembling victory" against Maccabi Haifa FC which "brought new hope", according to the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.
The continental way
Less trembling was AJ Auxerre's 2-1 triumph at previously unbeaten Arsenal FC, though it did send shockwaves through Group A. L'Equipe commended Guy Roux's men on a "really big" result, while the coach himself said: "Arsenal played as a typical English team yet they have had success by playing the continental way with balls to feet."
Lyon's shining stars
RC Lens and Olympique Lyonnais are two other French teams still in contention. The former beat RC Deportivo La Coruña 3-1, and "with victory came hope" of qualification from Group G, claimed Aujourd'hui. Meanwhile, Lyon stayed top of Group D and "can become a shining star in Europe" after the 3-3 home draw with Internazionale FC. If Lyon are a shining star, then whither Barcelona in the European football firmament?
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