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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Barcelona Whips United, Milan Wins

Combined Reports


LONDON -- Barcelona, beaten finalists in last season's European Cup, proved they could go all the way this season when they demolished Manchester United 4-0 with a breathtaking display of attacking soccer in their Champions League match.


The road loss Wednesday was United's heaviest defeat in European competition for 17 years and its biggest in any match for four years.


In other key Champions League matches, defending titlist AC Milan earned its first points of the competition with a come-from-behind 2-1 victory against AEK Athens, Paris St. Germain stayed perfect with a 1-0 win at Dinamo Kiev, and Ajax Amsterdam struck late to tie Austria Salzburg 1-1.


In Barcelona, Bulgarian striker Hristo Stoichkov scored twice and Brazil's Romario and defender Albert Ferrer netted the others as Johan Cruyff's team played its best soccer of the season to outclass Alex Ferguson's men.


Jordi Cruyff, 20-year-old son of manager Johann, was the architect of the first goal at the nine-minute mark. He released Romario to open up the United defense and pull goalkeeper Gary Walsh off his line and his follow up pass set up Stoichkov to shoot home.


Barcelona, the 1992 champions, and Manchester United, the 1968 winners, were renewing battle after their epic 2-2 draw at Old Trafford two weeks ago. A capacity crowd of 115,000 were in the Nou Camp stadium and millions more watching live in more than 80 countries around the world.


United came into the match unbeaten in their opening three games, but without several key players, including suspended French striker Eric Cantona and Danish goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel who was surprisingly dropped in place of reserve Walsh, who had never played a European match overseas.


In other Champions League matches Wednesday:


IFK Gotenborg 1, Galatasaray 0. In the other Group A game, Mikael Nilsson scored in the 86th minute to give Sweden's Gotenborg a 1-0 win over Galatasaray of Turkey in Istanbul.


Gotenborg looked to be settling for a draw when Nilsson headed home from the Swedes' only corner after Galatasaray had made the running for most of the 90 minutes.


Group B


Paris St. Germain 1, Dinamo Kiev 0. Paris St Germain booked its place in the last eight from Group B with a 1-0 home win over Dinamo Kiev thanks to a 68th-minute header from Liberian striker George Weah.


That goal was enough to preserve PSG's 100 percent record in the Champions League. But the Parisians had to struggle to break down a packed and determined Kiev defense in a game almost totally dominated by the home team.


Bayern Munich 2, Spartak Moscow 2. Bayern Munich had to come from behind twice to salvage a disappointing 2-2 draw at home to Spartak Moscow.


The young German side, who needed a last-minute equalizer to snatch a 1-1 draw when the two teams met in Moscow last month, required two first-half equalizers from Christian Nerlinger and Ghanaian Samuel Kuffour to keep up with the Russians. Andrei Tikhonov and Yury Alenichev scored for Spartak.


Group C


Hadjuk Split 0, Anderlecht 0. Hajduk Split of Croatia virtually clinched a berth in the quarterfinals by holding Anderlecht of Belgium to a goalless draw. Anderlecht, beaten 2-1 by Hajduk in Split two weeks ago, worked hard to tear down the visitors' defense but its attacks lacked inspiration.


Benfica 1, Steaua Bucharest 1. Portugal's Benfica also looked set to reach the quarterfinals after a 1-1 draw with Steaua Bucharest in Romania.


Striker Cristovao Helder beat the Romanian goalkeeper Dumitru Stingaciu in the 64th minute with a precise headed equalizer from six meters which caught Steaua's defense wrong-footed.


Group D


Milan 2, AEK Athens 1. Two headed goals from defender Christian Panucci gave AC Milan a 2-1 win over AEK Athens after the holders had been pushed to the brink of a costly defeat.


Panucci popped up at the far post to level the score in the 68th minute and then produced another powerful header six minutes later to revive Milan's hopes of reaching the last eight of the European Cup. Midfielder Toni Savevski had given the Greeks a shock lead with a fine goal in the 16th minute, driving home a low shot from the edge of the penalty box after Milan captain Franco Baresi had failed to clear a corner.


Ajax Amsterdam 1, Salzburg 1. An 85th-minute strike from Finnish international Jari Litmanen earned Ajax Amsterdam a 1-1 draw against Austria Salzburg and virtually secured its quarterfinal place in the European Cup.


Litmanen's effort canceled out a stunning goal by Salzburg left-back Tomislav Kocijan in the 62nd minute, the Austrian club's first goal in group D of the Champions' League.


The Dutch side, three-times winners of Europe's top club competition, were restricted throughout to long-range efforts and found Otto Konrad in the Salzburg goal in outstanding form.