Barcelona needed a late goal to beat 10-man Celtic 1-0 in soccer’s Champions League as English Premier League clubs Arsenal and Chelsea were easy winners.
Cesc Fabregas scored in the 76th minute last night to give Barcelona the win at Celtic, which had captain Scott Brown red-carded for a foul of Neymar earlier in the second half.
“Celtic are a team that demand so much from you,” Fabregas said on the website of tournament organizer UEFA. “It was a complete match from our point of view. Probably the most complete in the entire season.”
Mesut Ozil scored his first goal for Arsenal in a 2-0 defeat of Napoli and Ramires got a brace as Chelsea routed Steaua Bucharest 4-0 in Bucharest.
Last season’s runner-up Borussia Dortmund, Atletico Madrid and Schalke also won in the second round of group games in Europe’s elite club competition. Eight more matches are scheduled today, when Bayern Munich continues its title defense at Manchester City.
After beating Barcelona in the group stage last season in Glasgow, Celtic held the four-time European champion scoreless into the second half of its Group H match. The Scottish champion went a man down in the 59th minute when Brown was red carded for appearing to kick out at Neymar after fouling the Brazilian.
“It changed the game,” Celtic manager Neil Lennon told Sky Sports when asked about the red card. “It’s hard enough playing Barcelona with 11 men.”
Barcelona broke through with 14 minutes remaining on the counterattack as Neymar played a ball down the right for Alexis Sanchez, whose cross was headed home by Fabregas.
The victory leaves Barcelona atop the group with six points. Seven-time European champion AC Milan is two points back after a 1-1 draw with Ajax in Amsterdam.
Stefano Denswil’s goal in the final minute looked to have given Ajax the win, though Mario Balotelli scored from the penalty spot after being fouled in stoppage time.
Arsenal needed eight minutes to score against visiting Napoli in Group F. Aaron Ramsey cut a pass to Ozil, who fired in a shot from just inside the area for his first goal since completing a club-record 42.7 million-pound ($69.2 million) move from Real Madrid.
Ozil set up the second goal seven minutes later as he laid off a pass for Olivier Giroud to score from close range.
“He had an outstanding first half where you had everything you want to see from a great player,” Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said of Ozil in a news conference. “Individual skill, team play, finishing, final ball -- just sit there and enjoy it. I thought he was great in Madrid, and we are just lucky to have got him.”
The victory, which sent Arsenal top of the group, came 17 years to the day after Wenger took over as manager.
Dortmund beat Marseille 3-0 at home as Robert Lewandowski scored twice. The result left the German league leader tied with Napoli on three points.
Chelsea picked up its first points in Group E in Romania as Ramires scored in the 20th minute and Daniel Georgievski’s own goal made it 2-0 at halftime. Ramires scored his second 10 minutes into the second half and Frank Lampard added a fourth goal in the final minute.
“We always had control of the game,” Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho, whose team lost at home to Basel in its opener, said on UEFA.com. “We scored four and probably could have scored six or seven because we played really well.”
Schalke is three points ahead of Chelsea atop the group after Julian Draxler’s half-volley secured a 1-0 win at Basel.
Atletico Madrid rallied for a 2-1 victory at Porto on Arda Turan’s 86th-minute goal to move atop Group G. Diego Godin also scored for Atletico, while Jackson Martinez got Porto’s goal.
Austria Vienna and 10-man Zenit St. Petersburg picked up their first points with their scoreless draw. Zenit’s Axel Witsel was shown a red card just before halftime for a foul on Florian Mader.
To contact the reporter on this story: Bob Bensch in London at email@example.com.