| Hakan Unsal of Galatasaray challenges Juventus’ Mauro Camoranesi during their Champions League Group D match in Turin on Wednesday. (Reuters)
London: Italian clubs carried on where they left off last season as Inter Milan and Juventus made a perfect start in the Champions League on Wednesday.
Inter Milan crushed Arsenal 3-0 at Highbury while Juventus, last season’s beaten European finalists, beat Galatasaray 2-1 in Turin. After providing three semi-finalists last season and an all-Italian Champions League final, the renaissance has continued with all four Italian clubs winning over the two opening matchday nights of this season’s competition.
Inter stole Wednesday’s honours with a deserved Group B victory at Arsenal as the first-ever European meeting between the two clubs ended in the London side’s biggest home defeat in two-and-a-half years. Arsenal have now failed to win in six successive home matches in the Champions League and coach Arsene Wenger could not hide his disappointment afterwards.
“We started brightly, but we were perhaps a little naive on the goals and made it difficult for ourselves. It’s painful enough to lose, now we must stick together and respond well in the next (Champions League) game.”
A well-worked goal from Julio Ricardo Cruz, a stunning angled volley from Van der Meyde, which keeper Jens Lehmann could only help parry into the net, and a cool finish by Nigerian youngster Obafemi Martins sent Arsenal crashing to what could ultimately prove a very costly defeat.
To complete a miserable night for Arsenal, Inter keeper Francesco Toldo also saved a Thierry Henry penalty after 32 minutes. A 73rd minute goal, claimed by defender Ciro Ferrara, gave Juventus victory, although he only appeared to get the slightest touch to an Alessandro Del Piero free kick.
Del Piero had put Juventus ahead in the fifth minute, when he was given a surprising amount of space to hook home a right-wing cross from Mauro Camoranesi. But Juventus struggled as Hakan Sukur brought Galatasaray level with a 19th minute header.
Del Piero, who had struck the bar with a 66th minute free kick, set up the winner with 36-year-old defender Ferrara left unattended to poke his cross past Faryd Mondragon.
In a battle between two former European champions, Celtic threatened an upset at Bayern Munich in Group A after dominating much of the game against the German champions.
Alan Thompson headed Celtic ahead after 57 minutes but Bayern recovered to win 2-1 with two goals from new signing Roy Makaay in the last 17 minutes — the winner a speculative long-range curler four minutes from time.
Olympique Lyon beat Anderlecht 1-0 in the other match in the group with Juninho Pernambucano scoring the only goal from the penalty spot after 26 minutes.
Former Real Madrid striker Fernando Morientes marked his European debut for Monaco, where he is spending the season on loan, with the opening goal in a 2-1 win over PSV Eindhoven in their Group C match.
AEK Athens and Deportivo La Coruna drew 1-1 in the other Group C match with Vassilis Tsiartas equalising for AEK in the 89th minute after Walter Pandiani had put Deportivo ahead on 12 minutes.
A late penalty from striker Darko Kovacevic gave Real Sociedad a 1-0 win over Olympiakos in Group D, while Diogo Rincon scored twice in the last seven minutes as Dynamo Kiev beat Lokomotiv Moscow 2-0 in Group B.