Revived Villarreal fire Champions League warning to United

VILLARREAL will be in high spirits ahead of Wednesday’s Champions League trip to Old Trafford to face Manchester United after a 1-0 home victory over Deportivo La Coruna yesterday.

It was a first win of the season for Villarreal, who will hope to pile more misery on United after their 2-1 league loss at Liverpool. Spanish international Santiago Cazorla scored the decisive goal on 27 minutes.

A major boost for Villarreal was the return of Robert Pires after three weeks out through injury but striker United old boy Giuseppe Rossi is struggling with an ankle injury.

Real Madrid got their title defence up and running yesterday, grinding out a 4-3 home victory over newcomers Numancia. Guti had the honour of scoring Real’s 5,000th league goal to equalise before Gonzalo Higuain netted and Rafael van der Vaart scored his first goal in a Real shirt. An own goal from Domingo Cisma secured the win for Real.

Barcelona’s poor start continued with a 1-1 draw at home to Santander. Lionel Messi finally gave the Catalans the lead from the penalty spot but the visitors hit back shortly afterwards through Jonathan Pereira.

Espanyol are the new leaders after a 1-0 win over Recreativo Huelva, Luis Garcia scoring on 84 minutes.

In Italy, AC Milan, with Kaka, Ronaldinho and Andriy Shevchenko in their line-up, lost 2-0 at Genoa to plunge the club into crisis.

It was Milan’s second defeat in the opening two games and put renewed pressure on coach Carlo Ancelotti, who failed to guide the team into the Champions League. After the match Milan general manager Adriano Galliani issued a warning to Ancelotti. “He doesn’t risk the sack, but he’d better stop losing,” said Galliani.

Lazio are top after a 2-0 win over Sampdoria. On Saturday, champions Inter Milan clinched their first victory of the Serie A season with a 2-1 win at the San Siro over Catania. Inter had Ghana international striker Sulley Muntari red-carded late in the first half. Inter, coached by former Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho, went a goal down to Gianvito Plasmati’s effort but levelled two minutes from the interval when Portuguese import Ricardo Quaresma marked his debut with a deflected goal. The winning goal came five minutes after the break, an own goal by Cristian Terlizzi.

Roma crashed 3-1 at Palermo.

In Germany, Bayern Munich thumped Cologne 3-0 thanks to two goals by Italian striker Luca Toni, as well as an injury time strike by Lukas Podolski, taking them second in the table behind Hamburg.

Martin Jol’s Hamburg knocked Schalke 04 off the top after coming from 2-0 down after 25 minutes to seal a dramatic 3-2 win, Swiss striker Mladen Petric grabbing the winner.

Nine-man Schalke 04 lost their heads and their place at the top as they slid down to third after drawing 3-3 with neighbours Borussia Dortmund.

Wolfsburg secured a 2-2 draw at Hertha Berlin. Hertha face St Pat’s in the UEFA Cup tomorrow.

In France, Karim Benzema converted a penalty in stoppage-time as Lyon came from two goals down to beat Nice 3-2 at the Stade Gerland.

Lyon are two points clear of Marseille, who were held to a 1-1 draw at Bordeaux. Bordeaux face Chelsea at Stamford Bridge tomorrow while Marseille host Liverpool.

OM made the perfect start when Bakari Kone scored after just three minutes but Maroune Chamakh’s 26th-minute goal earned a point for Bordeaux.

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