Arda Turan inspires Atletico Madrid to 3-1 win over Zenit in CL opener

Arda Turan inspires Atletico Madrid to 3-1 win over Zenit in CL opener

MADRID - Reuters / Agence France-Presse
Arda Turan inspires Atletico Madrid to 3-1 win over Zenit in CL opener

Atletico Madrid's Turan celebrates a second goal against Zenit St. Petersburg during their Champions League soccer match in Madrid, Sept. 18. REUTERS photo

Arda Turan scored one and set up a second as Atletico Madrid earned a 3-1 home win over Zenit St Petersburg in their opening game of Champions League Group G on Sept. 18.

Brazilian defender Miranda drilled a header under the crossbar from a corner in the 40th minute as Atletico struggled to break down the organised visitors in the first half.

The Russians were more adventurous after the break. Brazilian striker Hulk fired a rocket into the top corner to level the scores in the 58th and Aleksandr Kerzhahov hit the crossbar with a free kick soon after.

Atletico restored their advantage when Turkey midfielder Arda pounced to bundle in a loose ball at another free kick in the 64th and he laid off the ball for substitute Leo Baptistao to stroke home the third in the 80th. 

Basel shocks Mourinho

The surprise performance of the night came by Basel. Jose Mourinho's first European tie since returning as Chelsea manager turned into a nightmare for the Portuguese the Swiss side overturned a 1-0 halftime deficit at Stamford Bridge to win 2-1 in Group E.

Fellow title-contenders Barcelona hammered Ajax Amsterdam 4-0 with another hat-trick from Lionel Messi.

Argentine Gonzalo Higuain opened his European account for Napoli as the Italians beat last year's runners-up Borussia Dortmund 2-1 in Group F. Arsenal beat Marseille 2-1 in the same group to continue their proud record of never having lost a European game away to a French club.

Former champions AC Milan and Porto both opened their group campaigns with wins. Milan beat Celtic 2-0 thanks to two late goals and Porto's Argentine midfielder Lucho Gonzalez sealed a 1-0 victory at Austria Vienna.

Bundesliga side Schalke were frustrated for more than an hour by Steaua Bucharest but broke through late on with three goals to become early leaders of Group E.