Man Utd to face Celtic after UCL draw

August 28, 2008

MONTE CARLO, Monaco -- Defending champion Manchester United was drawn Thursday into a group with Scotland's Glasgow Celtic, Spain's Villarreal and Denmark's Aalborg in the first round of the European Champions League.

"We always love to draw the champion of Europe as we did last year," said Celtic forward Scott McDonald, whose team faced Barcelona in the opening round of last season's tournament. "All of those things add up to good things and get us to the next round again. They're going to be fantastic games."

United's trip to Villarreal in Group E will revive memories of Wayne Rooney's ejection in September 2005, a tournament in which Alex Ferguson's team failed to progress to the second round.

Chelsea, which lost May's final on penalty kicks to the Red Devils, also has a relatively easy group, featuring AS Roma, Bordeaux and Romania's CFR Cluj.

Five-time champion Liverpool, which needed a 118th-minute goal Wednesday to qualify, was drawn into a group with PSV Eindhoven, Atletico Madrid and Olympique Marseille. That means Liverpool's star striker Fernando Torres, who scored the winner for Spain against Germany in June's European Championship final, gets a chance to face his former team.

"With Fernando and the other Spanish players, there will be huge, huge interest in that one," Liverpool chief executive Rick Parry said. "It's great. That's what makes the Champions League so exciting. It's fantastic."

Juventus has a tough return to the lucrative competition after a two-year absence. The Italians will have to overcome nine-time champion Real Madrid, UEFA Cup winner Zenit St. Petersburg and debutante BATE of Belarus.

Two-time champion Barcelona will meet Sporting Lisbon, Basel and Ukraine's Shakhtar Donetsk, while Arsenal faces Dynamo Kiev, Turkey's Fenerbahce and Porto.

Inter Milan is with Werder Bremen, Panathinaikos and Cyprus' Anorthosis Famagusta, and Bayern Munich was drawn to face Fiorentina, Lyon and Steaua Bucharest.