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Midway through league stage,Arsenal,Dortmund and Napoli level on six points in Group of Death

Birthday greetings? Bottle of wine? The Beatles classic had a hollow ring for Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger on Tuesday as Borussia Dortmund handed out a Champions League reality check on the day he turned 64.

Robert Lewandowski’s late volleyed winner earned Dortmund a 2-1 victory at a rain-soaked Emirates Stadium to throw Group F wide open just when Arsenal seemed capable of cruising through to the last 16 from the Group of Death.

Without reproducing the scintillating form of recent weeks Arsenal were set for a point after Olivier Giroud cancelled out Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s opener just before halftime but Lewandowski’s composed 82nd minute strike condemned Arsenal to a third home defeat in a row against German opposition.

It ended a 12-match unbeaten run in all competitions for the Londoners and left Wenger’s side tied on six points with last year’s European Cup runners-up Dortmund and Napoli and a daunting looking away game to come in Germany in two weeks.

“We were not as good as we can be offensively and some of the players tonight were not as fresh as recently,” Wenger told reporters. “If you can’t win games you mustn’t lose them.

“If you concede two goals you can only say we have to look at ourselves at not being mature enough. It’s tight now and difficult for us. But possible,” added Wenger whose side will need points from their away games in Dortmund and Napoli to reach the knockout rounds.

“You can say that we only had three shots on goal and scored twice but we were strong and it’s the result that matters. We are back on track now,” Klopp rounded off.

<\b>NAPOLI ON COURSE<\b>

Two superb goals earned Napoli a 2-1 win at Olympique Marseille that put the French team on the brink of elimination and the Italians back on course for a last-16 spot from Group F.

Jose Callejon and Duvan Zapata finished off excellent teamwork in style in the 42nd and 67th minutes to give Napoli six points from three matches,level with Arsenal and Borussia Dortmund. Marseille are bottom after three defeats.

Marseille reduced the arrears through Andre Ayew in the 86th minute but never came to terms with the pace of Belgium winger Dries Mertens.

“Six points for everyone — too bad Dortmund won — but we now have two out of three at home,” Mertens told Canal Plus. Napoli host Marseille next.

TORRES’ 100TH START<\b>

Fit-again Fernando Torres sparkled on his 100th start for Chelsea,scoring twice as they outclassed Schalke 04 3-0 to go top of Group E in Gelsenkirchen.

Torres produced a flying header at the far post after Branislav Ivanovic had flicked on a Frank Lampard corner in the fifth minute. The Spain striker,back in the starting lineup following a knee injury,struck again in the 69th minute when he raced clear to beat keeper Timo Hildebrand after earlier rattling the bar with a powerful header.

Eden Hazard made it 3-0 after running half the length of the field as Chelsea took their points tally to six,level with Schalke but with a better goal difference.

It was coach Jose Mourinho’s first away win against a German team,having lost all previous six visits in his career.

“I put faith in Fernando and he answered well. It’s a good feeling to score winning goals in the Champions League,” said Mourinho. “That was an important victory for us. we are in a good position.”

An 88th-minute goal by substitute Leandro Tatu salvaged a 1-1 home draw for bottom club Steaua Bucharest in their Group E match against Basel at the National Arena. The Swiss club are now third in the group with four points.

MILAN’S TIGHT MARKING<\b>

Lionel Messi slipped past tight AC Milan marking to score in his first start since injury and give Barcelona a 1-1 draw on Tuesday that keeps them two points clear at the top of Group H.

The Argentine struck in the 23rd minute with a slick finish to a breakaway move to cancel out Robinho’s stylish ninth minute opener,which came during a frantic opening period of pressure from the home side.

Barcelona moved up to seven points,with unbeaten Milan in second spot on five,two ahead of Celtic who beat Ajax 2-1 in Glasgow.

Coach Gerardo Martino was less than happy with a point. “I think with the way the match went we dropped two points tonight. We created chances and deserved to win,” Martino said.

Celtic rode their luck to beat Ajax Amsterdam 2-1 with goals either side of halftime,their first points in Group H.

DEBUTANT’S DOUBLE<\b>

Atletico Madrid’s Champions League debutant Diego Costa scored twice,including one of the goals of the season,in a thumping 3-0 victory against Austria Vienna as the La Liga side seized control of Group G on Tuesday.

Brazil forward Hulk broke the heart of his former club when he set up Aleksandr Kerzhakov’s late goal as Zenit St Petersburg moved up to second in Group G with a 1-0 win at Porto on Tuesday.

Russians Zenit now have four points from three games,five behind runaway leaders Atletico Madrid. Porto are third with three points.

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