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Wenger’s men gunned down at home

London: Defending champions Real Madrid and fellow Spaniards Valencia both gave up late equalisers on Tuesday to put their progress to the second phase of the Champions League on hold.

Real threw away a 2-0 home lead to draw 2-2 with AEK Athens while Valencia were within seconds of their fourth win only to draw 2-2 at Basel.

It was even worse for Arsenal, another side looking for the three points needed to progress, as they lost 1-2 at home to Auxerre.

That, and Liverpool’s 3-1 win at Spartak Moscow courtesy of a Michael Owen hattrick, were the only positive results from the night’s games as six of the eight ended level.

Olympique Lyon and Inter Milan shared six goals in a classic encounter in France and with Rosenborg Trondheim grabbing a late equaliser for a 1-1 draw at Ajax Amsterdam, Group D remains wide open.

Borussia Dortmund drew 1-1 at home with PSV Eindhoven in Group A, a result that will ease group leaders Arsenal’s frustrations.

AS Roma missed a great chance to make ground on Real when they were held to a goalless home draw by Genk in Group C.

The night had started well for Real as English midfielder Steve McManaman scored two well-taken goals in the first half.

However, Real, who had to battle back to snatch a 3-3 draw in Athens in their last European outing, got sloppy after the break and Costas Katsouranis pulled one back after 74 minutes and Walter Centeno snatched the equaliser four minutes from time. Real remain on top of Group C with eight points from four games. Roma have five, AEK four and Genk two.

Real carelessness

Real Madrid coach Vicente del Bosque accused his side of carelessness after they allowed AEK Athens to clinch a 2-2 draw.

“In the second half we were too deep and we let the Greeks take advantage of our carelessness,” Del Bosque said. “We know that a game isn’t won until the final whistle. We had our place in the second phase of the Champions League in play here.”

“Qualification is more complicated now,” he said. “We’ve still got the situation in hand but we have to take care until we’re mathematically safe.”

Del Bosque took off Zinedine Zidane, Roberto Carlos and McManaman in the second half and Real’s performance suffered as a result but the coach defended his substitutions.

“The changes were justified,” he said. “Zidane was suffering from a slight injury, Roberto Carlos had been involved in a little argument with an opponent and changing Macca gave us the opportunity to give fresh breath to the right wing.”

Valencia’s disappointment came even later as Basel midfielder Ivan Ergic got his second of the game in the last minute to secure a notable 2-2 draw in Group B.

Ergic had put the Swiss side ahead in the 32nd minute — the 2,500th goal scored since the Champions League began 10 years ago — only for Ruben Baraja (36) and Curro Torres (72) to turn the game Valencia’s way.

However, the Spaniards had Roberto Ayala sent off in the 88th minute and Basel took full advantage of the subsequent defensive confusion to grab a point.

Valencia, runners-up in 2000 and 2001, remain top on 10 points but Liverpool, who they play next at Anfield, have closed the gap to three.

Liverpool conceded their first goal in five games — Spartak’s first in four Champions League matches — when 18-year-old Aleksandr Danishevski scored after 23 minutes.

But England striker Owen equalised six minutes later, put the visitors ahead in the 70th minute and then finished off a sweeping Liverpool move for his treble in injury time.

Basel are still in contention with five points but Spartak, still pointless, are out.

Highbury stunned

Arsenal’s seven-month unbeaten record was ended with a 1-1 English Premier League defeat at Everton on Saturday and their success-spoiled fans were stunned again on Tuesday, this time on home soil. With three wins out of three and no goals conceded, the Londoners were expected to cruise through. However, first-half goals by Olivier Kapo and Khalilou Fadiga had a lively Auxerre two-up at the break. Nwankwo Kanu pulled one back eight minutes into the second half but there were few other chances.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said there was no reason to be alarmist after his side crashed to the shock home defeat. “Of course I am disappointed, but there is no basic reason to be alarmed,” said Wenger who didn’t have much to celebrate on his 53rd birthday.

Arsenal remain top of Group A with nine points, two clear of Dortmund, who they play next week in Germany. Auxerre have four points and PSV two.

Lyon, 2-1 winners in the San Siro three weeks ago, looked on course for the double over Inter when they twice led through Sonny Anderson (21) and Eric Carriere (44).

But a Claudio Cacapa own goal and two for Hernan Crespo had Inter eyeing victory, only for Andersson to get his second 15 minutes from time to settle it at 3-3.

The French champions top their group with seven points from four games. Inter are second on five, ahead of Ajax (5) and Rosenborg (3).

Rosenborg clung on to their slim qualification hopes thanks to an 85th-minute penalty by Dagfinn Enerly. Ajax had taken the lead after 41 minutes when Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored from close range but ended with 10 men after Jelle van Damme was sent off for handling the ball on the goalline to give away the equalising spot kick.

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