Barcelona Impresses, Inter Milan and Manchester United Disappoint To Open UEFA Champions League Group Play

Spain shined bright on Tuesday, the first day of Champions League group play, as the Primera Division’s two representatives posted four goal wins to move to the top of groups C and D. Group A saw two 2-2 draws while the favorites of Group B cruised to home victories.

Almost predictably, the star of the day was Lionel Messi, who responded two minutes after Panathinaikos’s opening goal, tying the match at the Nou Camp on his way to a two goal, two assist day. Barcelona would go on to a 5-1 victory, getting goals from David Villa (the only one in which Messi was not involved), Pedro and Dani Alves.

Barça sits at the top of Group D, even on points with Copenhagen. The Danish champions got a late header from Dame N’Doye to beat Russia’s Rubin Kazan, 1-0 in Copenhagen.

Barcelona’s landslide matched the margin posted by Valencia in the day’s most impressive result, Los Che winning 4-0 at Turkish champions Bursaspor. Unai Emery’s team got goals from Tino Costa, Artiz Aduriz, Pablo Hernández and Roberto Soldado, moving to the head of Group C after Manchester United was held to a surprise 0-0 draw at Old Trafford by Rangers.

In Group B, Benfica and Lyon got straight-forward home wins to move to the top of the group. Benfica got goals from Luisão and Oscar Cardozo at the Estadio da Luz, downing Hapoel Tel Aviv 2-0. Lyon’s early goal from Michel Bastos held-up as Schalke finished a man down, defender Benedickt Höwedes being sent-off.

In Group A, the defending champions disappointed in the Netherlands, with Inter Milan’s goals from Wesley Sneijder and Samuel Eto’o not enough to get full points from FC Twente. The Eredivisie champions got a first half, direct kick goal from Theo Janssen, who “assisted” on Diego Milito’s own goal ten minute later.

And in Group A’s other match, Tottenham Hotspur dominated the first half thanks to a Peitr Pasanen own goal and a Peter Crouch header, yet a 43rd minute Hugo Alemida goal allowed Werder Bremen to go into intermission down only one. An early second half tally from Marko Marin equalized, with the 2-2 scoreline holding-up.

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