x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Barca held to 0-0 draw at Inter

Champions Barcelona were held to 0-0 draw by Inter Milan at the start of their Champions League defence.

Barcelona's Swedish forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic controls the ball during the match against his former side Inter Milan.
Barcelona's Swedish forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic controls the ball during the match against his former side Inter Milan.

MILAN // Defending champions Barcelona were held to 0-0 draw by Inter Milan as the first Champions League matchup between Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Samuel Eto'o and their former teams fizzled to a rain-soaked stalemate. Ibrahimovic and Lionel Messi had chances to break the deadlock in the first half, but the rugged Inter defence stopped the Spanish club from building any attacking momentum in the second.

"We didn't create enough chances," the Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola said. "It is always hard to play Italian teams, nor is it easy to create chances against them. We didn't do enough in the first half, but we improved in the second." The Inter coach Jose Mourinho praised the visitor's performance. He said: "If we had scored, we would have won, but we wouldn't have deserved it as Barcelona was better.

"A match against Barcelona is a great training session, against the European champions. With a bit more luck we would have won, with a bit less we would have lost." In last night's other games Arsenal's Eduardo da Silva, playing two days after his diving ban was lifted on appeal, celebrated his reprieve by scoring a late winner in a dramatic 3-2 win at Standard Liege. The Brazilian-born Croatia striker netted from close range with nine minutes to go, three minutes after Thomas Vermaelen had levelled for the Londoners.

It meant Eduardo went from villain to hero because he was also at fault for Standard's first goal as the Belgians went 2-0 up inside five minutes. Dynamo Kiev scored three times in the last 19 minutes as they came from behind to beat Russians Rubin Kazan 3-1. Five-times European Cup winners Liverpool beat Hungarian outsiders Debrecen 1-0 at Anfield, Olympiakos Piraeus defeated AZ Alkmaar by the same score and Olympique Lyon overcame 10-man Fiorentina 1-0.

Liverpool struggled past unsung Debrecen in Group E after Dirk Kuyt scored in first-half stoppage time, sliding in the rebound after keeper Vukasin Poleksic had stopped a shot by Fernando Torres. A late goal by Miralem Pjanic helped Lyon beat Fiorentina in the same group. The Italians were always up against it after striker Alberto Gilardino was sent off on the stroke of halftime for elbowing midfielder Jeremy Toulalan.

A late goal from Vassilis Torosidis gave Olympiakos, with new coach Zico watching in the stands, victory over AZ Alkmaar in the other match in Arsenal's group. Brazilian pair Luis Fabiano and Renato scored as Sevilla beat Unirea Urziceni of Romania 2-0 in Group G. In the same group Rangers held VfB Stuttgart to a 1-1 draw in Germany. *AP/Reuters