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Arsenal and Manchester United Held in Champions League

A tale of two draws produced contrasting emotions for Premier League sides Manchester United and Arsenal in the UEFA Champions League as both teams kicked off their semi-final first legs last night.

The happier of the two English sides will no doubt be Arsenal, who came from behind to secure a priceless 1-1 draw against Villarreal at the the Estadio El Madrigal. The Gunners got the tie off to the worst start possible as Villarreal midfielder Marcos Senna was given time and space to power an unstoppable drive past Arsenal ‘keeper Manuel Almunia to hand the hosts the lead after just ten minutes.

Things could have got far worse as The Yellow Submarine continued to dominate the first half, with Lukas Fabianski – a 27th minute substitute for the injured Almunia – forced into a number of saves before the interval. However, after the break a much-improved Arsenal struck back in style to secure a priceless away goal when Togolese striker Emmanuel Adebayor’s spectacular overhead kick found the back of the net.

Manchester United, meanwhile, will have it all to do in the second league against FC Porto after the Portuguese Champions bagged two away goals in a 2-2 draw at Old Trafford. Cristian Rodriguez’s crisp finish had stunned the hosts after just four minutes, but his opener was soon cancelled out when Wayne Rooney seized on a poor back-pass from Porto defender Bruno Alves to equalise.

With the teams still level after 70 minutes, Argentinean striker Carlos Tevez was introduced in a bid to salvage the game for United and he duly obliged by powering a near-post finish past the excellent Helton after being set up by Rooney’s clever flick. However, the relief for the home crowd was short-lived as United’s shaky defence conceded again at the death as Porto substitute Mariano Gonzalez poked home the equaliser.

Both teams will now play the second leg of their semi-final ties on April 29.

Duncan Wilkie
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