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Saturday, March 12, 2011

Nilmar nets late winner for Villarreal

LONDON (AP) Brazil striker Nilmar grabbed a dramatic injury-time winner in Villarreal's 3-2 victory at Bayer Leverkusen but English sides Liverpool and Manchester City sank to first-leg defeats in the Europa League's last 16 on Thursday.

News photo
Cerebral clash: FC Twente's Denny Landzaat (left) vies for the ball with Zenit St. Petersburg's Roman Shirokovin Europa League action on Thursday night. FC Twente won 3-0. AP PHOTO

Nilmar scored moments after coming off the bench to put Villarreal 2-1 ahead in the 70th minute in Germany, before racing clear to slot home the winning goal four minutes into added-on time.

Liverpool, a three-time winner of Europe's second-tier competition, slipped to a 1-0 defeat at Braga — one of three Portuguese teams to open the last 16 with wins.

City fared even worse, losing 2-0 at Ukrainian side Dynamo Kiev to leave the big-spending Premier League club with a mountain to climb in next week's second leg at Eastlands.

FC Porto won 1-0 at CSKA Moscow in a match between two former winners, and Benfica rallied to beat visiting French side Paris Saint-Germain 2-1 to make it a superb night for Portuguese teams.

In the other three matches, Spartak Moscow defeated Ajax 1-0 away, Dutch champion FC Twente thrashed 2008 champion Zenit St. Petersburg 3-0, and Scottish side Rangers produced a resolute defensive display to hold PSV Eindhoven to a 0-0 draw away.

All eight second legs take place on March 17.

Wenger rips UEFA

LONDON (AP) Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger compared UEFA to a dictatorship on Thursday after being charged over his angry reaction to the team's Champions League loss at Barcelona.

Wenger and midfielder Samir Nasri were charged by UEFA after arguing with Swiss referee Massimo Busacca after the final whistle on Tuesday.

Wenger was angry that forward Robin van Persie was shown a second yellow card for shooting at goal immediately after being ruled offside. Arsenal lost 3-1 and was eliminated 4-3 on aggregate.

"We are out of the Champions League, we have lost one of our big ambitions, we have been punished with a lot of damages and on top of that, we have to say sorry to UEFA," Wenger said. "We have done nothing wrong. They organized the competition, they named the referees who come to the games. When you have a football game of that stature, you cannot come out with decisions like that and show a lot of arrogance on top of that.

"We can all understand that we can make wrong decisions, but after that it becomes dictatorship. It's not any more common sense."

On Wednesday, UEFA charged Wenger and Nasri with improper conduct.

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