Sevilla knocked down to earth with a bump

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LONDON, Sep 20 (Reuters) Sevilla witnessed first hand the chasm between UEFA Cup football and the Champions League with a humbling 3-0 defeat at Arsenal.

The Andalucians, winners of Europe's second-tier club competition for the last two seasons and tipped to make an impact among the big boys, were pulled apart at the Emirates with Cesc Fabregas, Robin van Persie and Eduardo da Silva scoring the goals for the silky Gunners, yesterday.

Czech side Slavia Prague, the other debutants in action, had a more enjoyable baptism. They joined Arsenal on three points in Group H with a 2-1 home victory against Steaua Bucharest.

Seven of the eight matches in Groups E to H produced home wins with only Manchester United bucking the trend when Cristiano Ronaldo headed the winner for the English champions against Sporting Lisbon.

Barcelona, who beat Arsenal in the 2006 final, turned on the style in their Group E opener in the Nou Camp, Lionel Messi and Thierry Henry both on target in a 3-0 win for the Catalans against Olympique Lyon.

It was a mixed night for Italian clubs.

Champions Inter Milan began with a 1-0 defeat in Istanbul against Fenerbahce in Group G but Roma's perfect start to the season continued when they saw off Dynamo Kiev 2-0 in the Olympic Stadium.

Francesco Totti and Simone Perrotta were on target in the club's 100th European victory.

''They did what they know how to do and played at pace. It was a beautiful match,'' Roma coach Luciano Spalletti said.

Rangers came from a goal down to join Barcelona on three points in Group E, beating German champions Stuttgart 2-1 in Glasgow with goals from Charlie Adam and a Jean-Claude Darcheville penalty.

MOSCOW FINAL In a season in which the final will be staged in Moscow next May, Russia's only representatives, CSKA Moscow, went down 2-1 at PSV Eindhoven in Group G.

Optimism at Arsenal before the season was in short supply after Henry's defection to Barcelona but coach Arsene Wenger's new-look side have begun the season in dazzling fashion.

Fabregas was the chief tormentor of Seville.

He opened the scoring when his shot took a huge deflection off Julien Escude and then set up second-half goals for van Persie and substitute Eduardo da Silva.

With Slavia Prague and Steaua Bucharest their other opponents, the Premier League leaders already look favourites to book their last-16 place early.

Van Persie described Arsenal's play as ''from another planet'' after the game while Wenger was a little more restrained, although clearly elated by his team's display.

''We have made almost the perfect start to the season,'' he said.

''I am very pleased with the spirit and the display. We were playing against a very good side.'' Wayne Rooney returned for Manchester United after breaking his foot on the opening day of the season but it was Cristiano Ronaldo who stole the limelight in front of his old fans.

The Portuguese showman struck with a diving header to earn United a valuable away win and was generously applauded off the pitch by the 40,000 crowd when he was withdrawn three minutes from time.

There were always going to be goals in the Nou Camp as Barcelona paraded an attacking trio of Messi, Henry and Ronaldinho but it was a Lyon player who opened the scoring, Francois Clerc turning into his own net after 21 minutes.

Barca had scored only one from open play in their first three Primera Liga games and they had to wait until the 82nd minute to seal the points against Lyon when Messi sidefooted in after a flowing move.

Henry put the icing on the cake in stoppage time with his 43rd goal in the competition.

REUTERS BJR AS1009

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