| Fernando Morientes scores the first of his two goals for Monaco against AEK Athens at the Louis II Stadium in Monaco on Tuesday. (AFP)
Paris: Christian Vieri’s last minute goal sealed Inter Milan’s second victory of the Champions League with a 2-1 win over Dynamo Kiev and rounded off a successful night for Italian clubs as a double from Pavel Nedved saw Juventus beat Olympiakos away by a similar margin.
Italy’s joy was matched by the two Spanish sides in action as Deportivo La Coruna defeated hapless PSV Eindhoven 2-0 and Real Sociedad took three priceless points away in Istanbul against 10-man Galatasaray.
Gala could not scrap their way back into the match but Bayern Munich displayed all their battling qualities to force a 1-1 draw at Anderlecht, despite playing with ten men from the 35th minute with the expulsion of Claudio Pizzarro after the Peruvian achieved the singular feat of being booked twice inside a minute.
While Italian and Spanish football looks to be in the pink of health their Greek counterparts are looking decidedly sick as Olympiakos’s defeat was outtrumped by their compatriots AEK Athens, who were humbled 0-4 by impressive French league side Monaco. Former Real Madrid midfielder Fernando Morientes, who moved to Didier Deschamps principality side at the start of the season, opened the scoring in Monaco’s 2-1 win over PSV Eindhoven a fortnight ago and was again the man of the night as Monaco romped all over their Greek visitors. He added another to the scoreline.
Monaco’s compatriots Lyon were unable to ape them in winning their first two matches as they went down 0-2 away to Celtic, who overcame missing a penalty to win with two goals in the last 20 minutes.
Vieri’s dramatic late intervention was a suitable ending for the Italian striker after he had pleaded with coach Hector Cuper to be included among the substitutes despite not playing since injuring both ankles in Italy’s 1-1 draw with Serbia and Montenegro on September 10.
“I am really pleased with that,” said Vieri. “I so wanted to play and I spoke with the gaffer (coach Cuper) and told him I would like to at least be on the bench. I am happy with the fact that I scored but above all that we are improving game by game.”
The 30-year-old flicked home Kily Gonzalez’s free-kick to ensure maximum points and take the Italians to the top of Group B. Kiev’s goal was the first Inter have conceded all season, having kept four clean sheets in Serie A and one in their opening Champions League win at Arsenal.
Cuper was thankful for the three points which put Inter on six points, three clear of Kiev and five clear of Lokomotiv Moscow and Arsenal, who fought out a 0-0 draw in Moscow.
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger had his rose-tinted glasses on again as he has so often this turbulent season claiming his side should have won, though the Russians also had several chances to win and leave the English side’s Champions League hopes in ashes once again.
Two touches of brilliance from Nedved inspired Juventus to their 2-1 win over Olympiakos. The Greeks went ahead in the 11th minute but Nedved quickly brought the Italians level with a sweetly struck free kick, before conjuring up the decider ten minutes from time.
Juve coach Marcello Lippi praised Nedved but added it was nothing new. “It was tiring to lift ourselves when we lost possession as the Greeks outnumbered us in midfield. However we were technically superior and in the end it showed. We did well in the second-half to snatch an important victory.”
Bayern coach Ottmar Hitzfeld’s inspired decision to bring on Paraguayan striker Roque Santa Cruz and Hasan Salihamidzic saw the latter set up the former to grab the equaliser in the 74th minute against Anderlecht.
Croat striker Ivica Mornar had looked set to end Anderlecht’s seven-game winless streak in the group stages when Bayern’s Germany goalkeeper Oliver Kahn, appearing in his 100th European club match, was beaten by a 53rd minute goal from Croatian striker Ivica Mornar as the Belgians took advantage of Pizarro’s sending-off.
But Santa Cruz’s powerful far-post header from Salihamidzic’s brilliant right wing cross beat the Anderlecht keeper Daniel Zitka easily and gave Bayern a share of the points.
While Hitzfeld mused over what could have been his Celtic counterpart Martin O’Neill described his side’s victory as immense as they moved to within a point of Bayern. Substitute Liam Miller’s career highlight helped relaunch Celtic’s campaign as the Republic of Ireland under-21 striker came off the bench to nod home the opener in the 70th minute. English striker Chris Sutton headed home a second to wrap up all three points for the Hoops.