Football

Barca kick off campaign in style

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Lionel Messi was denied a hat-trick but Barcelona put their shock Primera Division defeat to Hercules behind them as they opened their UEFA Champions League campaign with a crushing 5-1 win over Panathinaikos.

Messi struck two and saw a second-half penalty saved by Greek keeper Alexandrros Tzorvas as the home side shrugged off the shock of falling behind at the Nou Camp to score an emphatic victory.

Sidney Govou had put the visitors ahead on 20 minutes, but Messi equalised two minutes later and David Villa made it two just past the half-hour. Messi increased Barca's lead on 44 and late goals from Pedro and Dani Alves completed the rout.

In the other game in Group D, Senegal striker Dame N'Doye served up a potentially priceless winner three minutes from time as FC Cobenhagen nudged past Rubin Kazan in the Danish capital.

European champions Inter Milan had to come from behind to earn a 2-2 draw against FC Twente in Holland.

Tottenham got off to a flying start in their long-awaited Champions League debut as an own goal from Petri Pasanen and a Peter Crouch header put them 2-0 up against Werder Bremen in Germany.

But despite Spurs' dominance the momentum swung to the Germans after Hugo Almeida's header reduced the deficit. The impressive Marko Marin equalised in the second half and Harry Redknapp's men had to settle for a 2-2 draw.

Valencia sounded out a warning in Group C with a superb 4-0 win over Bursaspor in Istanbul thanks to goals from Alberto Costa and Aritz Aduriz in the first half and Pablo Hernandez and Roberto Soldado after the break.

Goals were harder to come by at Old Trafford despite Wayne Rooney's comeback for Manchester United, as Sir Alex Ferguson was forced to settle for a goalless draw against defensively-minded Rangers.

In Group B, the unfortunate Benedikt Howedes scored an own-goal and was sent off as as Lyon edged past Schalke 1-0. Goals from Luisao and Oscar Cardozo earned Benfica a 2-0 win over Hapoel Tel Aviv.

Copyright (c) PA Sport 2009, All Rights Reserved.

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Topics:
Tottenham Hotspur
European News
Football
Premier League
Peter Crouch
Alex
UEFA Champions League
Manchester United
Wayne Rooney

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