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Top 10 Memorable Opening Champions League Games

Top 10 Memorable Opening Champions League Games

Marco Van Basten's magnificent four in 1992, a classic between Dynamo Kiev and Spartak Moscow, Real Madrid being humbled and many many more...

To celebrate the return of the UEFA Champions League on Tuesday we've gone through the archives to select the most memorable opening group games since the current format began in 1992/93. To see highlights from the game just click the hyperlink. Sit back and enjoy the action...

10) Chelsea 1-1 Rosenborg (2007-08)
- Highlights

Jose Mourinho's final game in charge of the Blues was witnessed by less than 25,000 people at Stamford Bridge. After going behind in the first half Chelsea contrived to create 25 chances but could only score once. The man who spared Mourinho a rare home defeat was his less than favourite signing Andriy Shevchenko.

After the game Mourinho admitted: "Of course I am alarmed. I am not happy." Roman Abramovich wasn't exactly ecstatic either and barely 24 hours later Chelsea and the Special One parted ways.

9) Ajax 1-0 Real Madrid (1995-96)

That Ajax beat Los Blancos wasn't any real surprise as they were the reigning European champions in this opener. Marc Overmars settled the contest in a match the Dutch team dominated.

It set the tone for the rematch two months later at the Bernabeu. Ajax dismantled the Spanish champions with superb flowing football, running out comfortable 2-0 winners via goals from Jari Litmanen and Patrick Kluivert. The home fans even applauded the young team off the pitch and according to legend the video remains in the Madrid archives as a lesson for young coaches! See highlights from the Bernabeu match here.

8) Arsenal 0-3 Inter (2003-04) - Highlights

You wouldn't have thought that Arsenal's Invincibles would go an entire league season unbeaten after their limp opener in the Champions League in 2003.

Hector Cuper's Inter silenced Highbury by racing into a three-goal lead before half-time. Goals from Julio Cruz, Andy van der Meyde and Obafemi Martins made it a dismal night for the Gunners and Thierry Henry missed a penalty when it was 2-0.

Inter looked like world beaters, with Martins giving arguably his best ever performance in a Nerazzurri shirt. By the time the return leg came around in November Cuper had been sacked and Arsenal thrashed the Serie A side 5-1. Inter even failed to make it out of the group as Arsenal and Lokomotiv Moscow progressed.

7) Porto 3-2 Werder Bremen (1993-94) - Highlights 

A largely forgotten gem, this early classic featured the champions of Portugal and Germany and a remarkable three goals in just six minutes.

Porto had only lost to the great Milan team at home in the previous season and showed their class by taking an early lead. Defender Rui Jorge scored an early contender for goal of the tournament with an onrushing left foot volley which he executed to perfection.

That should have been that, especially when the Dragons went 3-0 up with just seven minutes to go. Otto Rehhagel's Bremen refused to give up and scored two goals in the next three minutes. Wynton Rufer prodded in a delicious chip, but it was too little too late for the Bundesliga champions.

6) Bayer Leverkusen 3-0 Real Madrid (2004-05) - Highlights

Sporting a shirt made by a German manufacturer (Adidas) and with a German sponsor (Siemens), Real Madrid were torn apart in... well, Germany.

Jose Antonio Camacho's ill-fated brief second stint in charge of Los Blancos got off to a wretched start as the full-strength Galactico line-up was dispatched by Leverkusen. Superb goals by Jacek Krzynowek, Franca and a late tap in by Dimitar Berbatov completed the rout. It was sweet revenge by the Bundesliga side, who were beaten by Madrid in the Champions League final two years earlier. A year later Real were thumped by an identical scoreline on the opening day by Lyon.

5) Newcastle United 3-2 Barcelona (1997-98) - Highlights

A contemporary report of Faustino Asprilla's greatest night in a Newcastle shirt read: "In football, one man's misfortune is another's opportunity and Faustino Asprilla last night took the chance offered by Alan Shearer's broken leg like a starving man at a smorgasbord."

Often accused of spoiling Newcastle's title chances in 1995-96, the gifted Colombian sealed his place in Geordie affections with an incredible hat-trick. He earned and scored the opener with a penalty before adding two bullet headers to send the home fans into dreamland. Newcastle were three-up before an hour had been played but in true dramatic fashion let the Catalans back in, conceding twice to ensure a nail-biting finale at St James' Park. 

4) Milan 4-0 Gothenburg (1992-93) - Highlights

Banned from participating in European football the previous season, the Rossoneri began the inaugural Champions League group campaign in imperious form by thrashing Gothenburg 4-0.

Or to put it more specifically, Marco van Basten dismantled the Swedish champions with a virtuoso performance by netting all four goals. He saved the best for his hat-trick, beating Thomas Ravelli with a stunning bicycle kick, leaving the San Siro in raptures. Little did we know that these would be Van Basten's final European goals as the brilliant Dutchman's career was brought to a halt prematurely by injury shortly afterwards.

3) Manchester United 3-3 Barcelona (1998-99) - Highlights

In one of the first seasons when non-champions were allowed to participate, any complaints from traditionalists were swiftly allayed by this thriller at Old Trafford.

Played at a frantic pace, the Red Devils went into a two-goal lead before half-time through Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes, who netted a rebound after a cracking Dwight Yorke overhead kick was saved. Barca battled back to make it 2-2 with Sonny Anderson scoring a peach. David Beckham put United back in the lead with a trademark free-kick before Luis Enrique earned the Catalans a point.

The return match at the Camp Nou was equally exciting and also finished in a 3-3 draw.

2) Dynamo Kiev 3-2 Spartak Moscow (1994-95) - Highlights

Clashes between Dynamo and Spartak were epic in the old Soviet league pitting Kiev against Moscow. What made their encounter in September 1994 particularly significant was that it was the rivals' first game since the break-up of the Soviet Union.

After playing each other twice a season for decades this was the first match-up between the champions of Ukraine and Russia in three years. It didn't disappoint, with the huge 70,000 crowd treated to a five-goal thriller at the Olympic Stadium.

Dynamo pulled off one of their greatest comebacks after trailing 2-0, giving away an own goal, missing a penalty and throwing an awful Viktor Leonenko miss into a mix. The Dynamo forward redeemed himself with a brace and with just minutes remaining young Sergei Rebrov slid in for the winner. A memorable night in Kiev was complete.

1) Hamburg 4-4 Juventus (2000-01) - Highlights 

At the start of the decade Juventus boasted the best recent record in the Champions League. The Bianconeri had reached three finals in a row (1996, 97, 98) and were semi-finalists in 1999. After playing in the UEFA Cup in 1999-2000 Carlo Ancelotti's team returned to the more prestigious competition in 2000-01 and were drawn in a group with Panathinaikos, Deportivo La Coruna and matchday one opponents Hamburg.

What transpired at the Volksparkstadion was nothing short of sensational. Two penalties, a goalkeeper on the mark, a heart-stopping comeback and a Filippo Inzaghi hat-trick tell only half the story.

It was Hamburg's first ever match in the Champions League and they went behind early. At one stage Juventus were 3-1 up but Die Rothsen refused to give in and courtesy of some poor goalkeeping by Edwin Van Der Sar the match got back to 3-3.

Goalkeeper Hans Joerg Butt performed his cameo by scoring the equaliser from the penalty spot before almost unbelievably the Germans took the lead through Niko Kavac. Less than 10 minutes remained and it looked as though Hamburg were going to record a famous victory.

Not a bit of it. Pippo Inzaghi earned and scored a last minute equalising penalty. Phew. What a game!

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