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Rediff.com  » Sports » CL images: Hernandez to Man U's rescue, Barca held

CL images: Hernandez to Man U's rescue, Barca held

Last updated on: September 30, 2010 11:57 IST

Wasteful Barcelona frustrated by Kazan again

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Barcelona paid the price for wayward finishing as they were held to a 1-1 draw by their bogey-team Rubin Kazan in Champions League Group D on Wednesday.

The Spanish champions, with Lionel Messi on the bench, wasted a host of chances in the first half, with striker Pedro the main culprit against the team who took four points off Barcelona in last season's competition.

Pedro missed a golden early opportunity, hitting a crossbar with the goal at his mercy following a perfect pass by David Villa. Pedro had another chance late in the first half but again shot wide of the post from 12 metres.

The Russian champions converted their first real chance, captain Christian Noboa scoring from the spot after Barca defender Dani Alves brought down Vitaly Kaleshin in the 30th minute.

Thirty minutes later Spain striker Villa equalised with another penalty after Andres Iniesta was fouled inside the box.

However, Rubin, who stunned the then European champions 2-1 in the Nou Camp before holding them to a 0-0 home draw in the group stage last season, frustrated the Catalans again with their defensive approach.

"It was very difficult for us to score tonight as Rubin had many players guarding their goal," Villa said.

"Still, we had a lot of chances, hit a post and also their keeper played well when he had to."

Barca coach Pep Guardiola introduced Messi shortly after scoring the equaliser, looking to break down the home team's fortress.

The World Player of the Year, who netted twice in Barca's 5-1 demolition of Panathinaikos in their opening group game, had one good chance but Rubin keeper Sergei Ryzhikov did well to avert the danger.

At the other end, Rubin substitute Obafemi Martins could have given the hosts an unlikely victory three minutes from time but the Nigerian striker hit the post from close range.

After Martins had wasted his chance, Iniesta could have snatched the three points for the visitors with virtually the last kick of the game but he just clipped a shot over the bar.

Rubin earned their first point in the competition following a surprise 1-0 defeat at Copenhagen in their opening fixture and Barcelona have four points after two games.

"We needed at least a point to keep alive our chances in the group after losing in Copenhagen so I must admit that we're satisfied with the draw," Rubin coach Kurban Berdyev said.


Image: Rubin Kazan's Christian Noboa reacts after scoring a goal against Barcelona

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Super-sub Hernandez comes to Man Utd's rescue

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Javier Hernandez came off the bench to fire Manchester United to a 1-0 Champions League win over Valencia on Wednesday and improve the English club's poor record on Spanish soil.

The 22-year-old Mexico striker, nicknamed 'little pea', took Federico Macheda's low cross and drilled the ball past Cesar Sanchez in the 85th minute to secure only United's second victory in 19 away European matches against Spanish opponents.

United, held 0-0 at home by Rangers in their opening match, moved joint top of Group C with the Scottish champions on four points. Valencia, the Spanish league leaders, are third with three points after their opening 4-0 win at Bursaspor.

"You've got to give us credit for the way we defended," United manager Alex Ferguson said.

"They're not top of the league for nothing so for us to win here tonight is a good result for Manchester United."

Neither side showed much creativity on a pleasantly warm night at the Mestalla, although Valencia improved in the second half, roared on by the passionate home support thronging the steeply-banked arena.

Strikers Dimitar Berbatov for United and Roberto Soldado for the home side cut lonely figures up front at times, although Berbatov forced a smart save from Sanchez when through on the Valencia keeper soon after halftime.

Valencia midfielder Pablo Hernandez was a rare spark of creativity and zest for the home side and had several good chances in either half.

His long-range effort whistled over the crossbar in the 16th minute before United goalkeeper Edwin Van der Sar misjudged a cross and Soldado headed narrowly over the open goal.

The introduction of striker Aritz Aduriz lifted the home crowd but Valencia were unable to find the net against a resolute United defence strengthened by the return of Rio Ferdinand from injury.

"His experience helped us, I don't think there's any question about that," Ferguson said of Ferdinand, who has been sidelined with a knee injury.

"It's his first real game for a long time and we have to be very pleased with that."

United, missing injured striker Wayne Rooney and experienced midfielders Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs, had failed to score on their last three trips to Spain but Hernandez came close to a goal immediately after replacing Anderson in the 77th minute.

He slid in at the back post and struck the ball against the outside of the upright before beating Sanchez from Machado's accurate centre to snatch the three points.


Image: Manchester United's Javier Hernadez (left) celebrates after scoring against Valencia

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Eto'o hat-trick gives Inter easy win over Werder

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In-form Samuel Eto'o bagged a hat-trick to help injury-hit holders Inter Milan rip apart a dreadful Werder Bremen 4-0 in Champions League Group A on Wednesday. The Cameroon striker, quiet in his first season at Inter last term as they won the treble, has been outstanding so far this campaign and took his goal tally in all competitions to 11 with three clinical finishes.

Esteban Cambiasso won a challenge in midfield and Eto'o looked to have taken too heavy a touch off his knee but prodded the ball between Tim Wiese's legs for the 21st minute opener.

He then took advantage of extraordinarily lax Werder defending to convert Lucio's ball over the top before playing provider for Wesley Sneijder to make it three in the 34th minute.

Eto'o rounded the keeper nine minutes from time for his third.

Inter came into the game with last season's top scorer Diego Milito, fellow striker Goran Pandev, captain Javier Zanetti and centre-back Walter Samuel all ruled out through injury.

Coach Rafael Benitez, whose options are limited following the sale of Mario Balotelli and Inter's decision not to keep new Werder striker Marko Arnautovic, was forced to play youngsters Coutinho and Jonathan Biabiany alongside Eto'o.

Werder, with a host in injuries themselves, made a bright start given Inter's lack of aura with Hugo Almeida lobbing the onrushing Julio Cesar only for Lucio to clear close to the line.

The Germans, who drew 2-2 with Tottenham Hotspur in their group opener, continued to press but once Eto'o had pounced their frail defence never looked like recovering.

Inter had looked nervous during the 2-2 draw at Twente Enschede two weeks ago and lost their first Serie A game of the season at AS Roma on Saturday but confidence was flowing freely in their second Champions League outing.

They were so laid back that keeper Julio Cesar was taken off at halftime as a precaution for a minor knock although a foot injury to centre-back Lucio looked more serious ahead of Sunday's league game with bitter rivals Juventus.


Image: Inter's Samuel Eto'o celebrates after scoring against Wereder Bremen

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Van der Vaart takes centre stage in Spurs rout

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Tottenham Hotspur's Rafael van der Vaart missed a penalty, scored a goal and was sent off as his team thumped Twente Enschede 4-1 for their first Champions League win at a rainswept White Hart Lane on Wednesday.

Spurs were awarded three penalties, two of which they converted, in their first home match in Europe's elite competition for 48 years.

Manager Harry Redknapp's decision to play the tall Roman Pavlyuchenko and the even taller Peter Crouch paid dividends as the Premier League team overwhelmed their Dutch visitors.

"We picked an open team, we went for it .. we knew there would be spells when they would hit us on the counter-attack but we went for it and got four goals, it was a fantastic result. It is about picking the right team and I picked the right team tonight," Redknapp told reporters.

Twente's coach Michel Preud'homme was upset about the penalties awarded against his side.

"If you give a penalty on one side for stopping the ball with your hands, you have to give it on the other side also. Having said that, maybe Tottenham scored when they had chances, but we didn't," he said.

Redknapp's tactics brought three points and boosted their goal tally after they drew 2-2 with Werder Bremen in their Group A opener.

The match began to turn Tottenham's way after 41 minutes even though Van der Vaart's penalty was palmed away by Twente goalkeeper Nikolay Mihaylov.

The Dutchman, recently signed from Real Madrid, almost redeemed himself with a stupendous volley which Mihaylov saved brilliantly, but a minute after halftime he made the breakthrough with a well taken goal from close range.

Pavlyuchenko put Spurs 2-0 up with their second penalty awarded when the flying Gareth Bale was brought down by Roberto Rosales, before Nacer Chadli pulled one back for Twente.

Van der Vaart was sent off just past the hour for a clumsy challenge on Rosales which earned him a second yellow card but Spurs weathered the storm and Pavlyuchenko made it 3-1 from the spot following a debatable handball by Wout Brama.

Spurs' fourth goal came five minutes from time when the outstanding Bale picked his spot after a typically surging run.

The victory left Tottenham level with European champions Inter Milan at the top of Group A with four points before their visit to the San Siro on Oct. 20 when they will be without the suspended Van der Vaart.


Image: Tottenham Hotspur's Gareth Bale celebrates with teammates after scoring against FC Twente

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Schalke grab hard-earned 2-0 win over Benfica

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Schalke 04 forgot about their Bundesliga woes for one night to carve out a hard-fought 2-0 win over Benfica in Champions League Group B on Wednesday.

Schalke, who languish 17th in their domestic league after a poor start to the season, looked destined for their second straight Group B defeat, took the points with late goals from Jefferson Farfan and Klaas-Jan Huntelaar.

The German side, who lost their opener to Olympique Lyon, are now second in the group on three points, with Lyon top with six after their 3-1 win at Hapoel Tel Aviv. Benfica also have three points.

"I am hugely satisfied because it was a tough match and Benfica have a great team as we saw in the first half," said Schalke coach Felix Magath.

"But I am especially satisfied with how we worked our way into the game and pulled the match away from them," he said.

With Schalke's defence, so impressive last season, again confused and erratic it was Benfica who pressed first with an unmarked Luisao forcing a save from Manuel Neuer.

Striker Javier Saviola then managed to fire wide from six metres when Luisao headed on a throw-in into the Argentine's path in what was Benfica's best chance.

Schalke were reduced to defending in numbers and had only one real chance of note in the first half when former Real Madrid forward Raul combined with fellow Spaniard Jose Manuel Jurado and hit the post with a left-footed shot.

Ivan Rakitic then failed to convert the rebound, with Benfica keeper Roberto keeping his cool to save the Croatian's close-range effort.

Benfica gradually lost their spark midway through the second half and then their offensive edge when striker Oscar Cardozo limped off with an injury.

Schalke seized their opportunity and with Farfan, playing behind Huntelaar and Raul, began to move forward.

The Peruvian grabbed the lead for them after 73 minutes when he controlled a Lukas Schmitz cross from the left and fired past Roberto.

With the Portuguese looking for an equaliser, Schalke relied on quick breaks and Dutch striker Huntelaar completed a Raul-led move by tucking in Schalke's second goal from three metres in the 85th minute.

"In the first half we were nervous but in the second we played simpler football and we were just better," said Huntelaar.

"I think Raul made a good move for that second goal. But overall the team played much better tonight," said the striker.


Image: Schalke 04's Klaas-Jan Huntelaar celebrates after netting against Benfica

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Lyon crush Hapoel Tel Aviv

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Embattled Olympic Lyon coach Claude Puel gained a welcome if all too fleeting respite from his domestic woes on Wednesday with his team's 3-1 win over Hapoel Tel Aviv in Champions League Group B.

Puel, who is under fire for his side's poor start to their Ligue 1 campaign, had already turned his attention to a demanding match against Nancy as he appraised his team's performance.

"It is good to have picked up six points from two Champions League matches but we do differentiate between the Champions League and the domestic league," he told a news conference.

"The Champions League is special but we still have a very difficult domestic fixture at the weekend against Nancy."

Brazilian midfielder Michel Bastos, who hit the only goal in Lyon's win over Schalke in their opening game, struck with a penalty after seven minutes after Hapoel captain Walid Badier brought down Jimmy Briand.

Lyon doubled their lead in the 36th minute when Bastos blasted in from 25 metres following a corner.

Hapoel, making their home debut in the competition at their compact Bloomfield Stadium, got one back through goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama's 79th-minute penalty before substitute Miralem Pjanic sealed Lyon's win in stoppage time.

The technical skills of Hapoel's players were rarely in evidence as Lyon's speed in attack and assurance in defence did not allow the hosts to take advantage throughout the match, played on a hot, humid Tel Aviv night.

Hapoel did threaten following a melee in the Lyon area but the French side went 2-0 up when Bastos let fly with an unstoppable shot that fizzed past Enyeama.

Hapoel, making their home debut in the competition at their compact Bloomfield Stadium, got one back through goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama's 79th-minute penalty before substitute Miralem Pjanic sealed Lyon's win in stoppage time.

Puel said the heat had taken its toll on his players but praised them for the extra effort they had made.

"We were worried by the efforts by the players in the hot conditions and we will now need to rest and prepare for our next match against Nancy," Puel said.

Hapoel coach Eli Guttman said Lyon were the best team in Group B and, although disappointed with the result, he was pleased with the way his players performed but added that at this level mistakes were often punished.

"I am disappointed that it ended 3-1 but I am pleased and satisified with the effort of my players. I am pleased that we managed to hold the ball a lot more thand we did against Benfica," Guttman said.

"I am clearly disappointed, the problem for (an underdog team) in this sort of match is the second goal because there is a price to be paid at this level when a player is out of position."


Image: Olympique Lyonnais Michel Bastos (left) celebrates his second goal against Hapoel Tel Aviv

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Striker N'Doye sets up surprise victory

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FC Copenhagen striker Dame N'Doye returned to haunt former club Panathinaikos by helping the Danish champions to a surprise 2-0 Champions League Group D win over the Greek side on Wednesday.

The Senegalese, who spent the 2007-08 season with Pananthinaikos, put Copenhagen ahead in the 28th minute with Martin Vingaard adding a second eight minutes before halftime.

"It's always good to come to Athens and score but it was not about me," N'Doye told Reuters. "It was FCK against Panathinaikos rather than Dame N'Doye against Panathinaikos.

"We were very organised and the important thing was that we kept a clean sheet. When you do this, nobody can beat you."

A miserable night for Panathinaikos was completed when former Arsenal midfielder Gilberto Silva was sent off after receiving a second yellow card for a handball.

FC Copenhagen coach Stale Solbakken was delighted with the win, which pushed Copenhagen to the top of the group with six points following Barcelona's 1-1 draw with Rubin Kazan in Russia.

"We were much better prepared and managed to get the win," he said. "After this result I think we have a good chance of qualifying for the knockout stages. It was a fair victory, we were able to close them down properly and our attack functioned very well.

"Certainly we had a bit of luck on our side but we deserved the three points. In the games against Barcelona we will try for the best, I'm sure the games will be a useful learning experience for us all."

Nikos Nioplias' Greek champions took the initiative at the Olympic Stadium with Djibril Cisse forcing a spectacular flying save from Johan Wiland after just 30 seconds with a fierce long range volley.

Despite that early promise, it was the visitors who settled quicker while Panathinaikos, with Silva operating in central defence in the absence of the injured Cedric Kante, looked vulnerable.

Copenhagen grew in confidence and went in front through their first meaningful attack in the 28th minute. Former Chelsea winger Jesper Gr nkj r was the architect, supplying a superb through ball for N'Doye whose clever run exposed the hosts' rearguard.

Panathinaikos goalkeeper Alexandros Tzorvas made the mistake of rushing out too far and N'Doye clipped the ball past him with ease.

The Danes continued to control proceedings and went two goals up in the 37th minute when Silva fouled N'Doye 20 metres from goal. Vingaar stepped up and fired a low shot into Tzorvas' bottom right corner.

Claudemir then passed up a great chance to make it 3-0 when he fired over following a neat passing move.

Panathinaikos coach Nikos Nioplias brought on Giorgos Karagounis and Nikos Spyropoulos at halftime but frustration was getting the better of the hosts.

Silva was sent off in the 49th minute when he stuck out an arm to block a through ball. From then on it was always going to be a difficult task to haul themselves back into the match and Copenhagen comfortably held on.

"After the sending off the game was finished. We paid for our mistakes, it was like the second half did not happen as a contest," said Panathinaikos coach Nikos Nioplias.


Image: Dame N'Doye of FC Copenhagen (front) dribbles past Panathinaikos FC defender Kostas Katsouranis

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