Yossi Benayoun's late header gave Liverpool a valuable 1-0 win at Real Madrid in the UEFA Champions League's first knockout round Wednesday while Bayern Munich crushed Sporting Lisbon 5-0 to virtually guarantee a spot in the quarter-finals.
Chelsea, last season's beaten finalists, gained a slim first-leg advantage over Juventus with Didier Drogba ending a two-month goal drought to clinch the 1-0 win at Stamford Bridge.
In the night's only stalemate, Giuseppe Rossi scored from the penalty spot to salvage a 1-1 draw for Villarreal at home to Panathinaikos.
The second legs are on March 10, when nine-time champion Real Madrid will need to win at Anfield to reach the quarter-finals for the first time since 2004.
The first match between Madrid and Liverpool since the English side won the 1981 European Cup final was heading for a draw until Benayoun made a powerful connection with Fabio Aurelio's curling free kick in the 82nd minute to score the all-important away goal.
"We base ourselves on being organized," Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher said. "We're probably one of the most organized teams
"And that was evident again tonight. The away goal's massive in Europe."
Madrid goalkeeper Iker Casillas denied first-half scoring chances by Liverpool striker Fernando Torres and Xabi Alonso while Arjen Robben created the Spanish champion's best effort with a rising shot that went through the fingertips of goalkeeper Pepe Reina in the 71st minute but flew over the crossbar.
"We knew it could be very difficult," said Benitez, a former assistant coach of Real Madrid. "They had a lot of confidence, and we needed to work very hard."
Little to exploit on Chelsea
Guus Hiddink now has two wins from his first two matches as Chelsea's interim manager, following Drogba's fourth goal of the season.
Drogba finished from a clever disguised pass through the middle from fellow Ivory Coast striker Salomon Kalou.
With Frank Lampard and John Terry the only players in the Chelsea lineup remaining from his final season at Stamford Bridge in 2003-4, former Blues coach Claudio Ranieri had little inside knowledge to exploit.
Ranieri's side struggled to cope with Chelsea's speed and was denied the time and space it is accustomed to in Serie A.
Juventus did manage two worthy openings in the first half.
Alessandro Del Piero drew a save from goalkeeper Petr Cech with a shot from inside the area, and Amauri headed on the resulting corner just past the outstretched leg of Giorgio Chiellini at the far post.
"What I think we still have to work on a lot is to have more control even in these tough games," Hiddink said. "It's not an easy team to play against, Juventus.
"They can play very well in between your defensive and midfield line. So it's very difficult to play them."
Bayern Munich goes on rampage
Bayern Munich had to wait until the 41st minute to take the lead in Lisbon, but after Franck Ribery shot low through goalkeeper Tiago's legs, the Germans went on the rampage in the second half.
Luca Toni's glancing header from Massimo Oddo's corner in the 57th landed conveniently for Miroslav Klose, who bundled the ball over the line for his sixth goal in the competition.
Ribery sent Tiago the wrong way with a 63rd-minute penalty kick and Toni scored twice in the final six minutes, both times assisted by Ribery.
Villarreal dominated possession at home to Panathinaikos, but the Greek visitors took the lead in the 59th when Giorgos Karagounis unleashed a shot from 25 yards that tipped off the hand of Villarreal goalkeeper Diego Lopez before bouncing into the net off the crossbar.
The advantage lasted just seven minutes, midfielder Jakub Wawrzyniak bringing down Robert Pires and Rossi, an American-born Italian, converting from the penalty spot.
In Tuesday's first legs, defending champion Manchester United drew 0-0 at Inter Milan, Barcelona was held 1-1 at Lyon, Atletico Madrid drew 2-2 with FC Porto and Arsenal beat AS Roma 1-0 in London.