Hernandez heroics lead to United win
PARIS - Javier Hernandez helped Manchester United to a 1-0 win at Valencia in the Champions League on Wednesday, while Samuel Eto’o notched a hat trick as Inter Milan thrashed Werder Bremen.
United was drifting toward its second straight goalless draw in the competition, having been held 0-0 at home by the Rangers two weeks ago, when Hernandez took a pass from Federico Macheda and rammed the ball home in the 85th minute of the match.
The Mexican had earlier struck a post from close range, while Valencia’s best chance came when Roberto Soldado headed the ball over an open goal in the first half.
“It’s a great result for us,” said United coach Sir Alex Ferguson, whose side had only beaten the Spanish opposition once in its 18 previous visits to Spain.
“It’s a difficult place to play. Our record stretches over a long period. Nonetheless, we’re pleased to win.”
With several midfielders missing from the lineup - including Antonio Valencia, Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes - Korean midfielder Park Ji-sung played the entire 90 minutes, his first full game of the season.
In the evening’s other Group C game, the Rangers beat Bursaspor 1-0. Defending champions Inter brushed aside Bremen 4-0 at the San Siro to record its first victory in this season’s competition.
Held 2-2 at FC Twente on the first match day, Inter wrapped up victory in a devastating 13-minute spell midway through the first half.
Eto’o put Inter ahead in the 21st minute after scampering onto a loose ball on the edge of the hosts’ area, and he made it 2-0 six minutes later with a cool finish from Lucio’s lofted pass. The Cameroon hitman turned provider in the 34th minute when he slid a pass through to Wesley Sneijder, who crisply lifted the ball over the advancing Tim Wiese, before completing his treble with nine minutes left.
Inter coach Rafael Benitez said Eto’o’s hat trick had nothing to do with the fact that he was playing center in place of the injured Diego Milito.
“Samuel is always close to the goal, even when he plays on the left,” said Benitez.
Inter has four points from two games and top Group A alongside Tottenham, which defeated Twente 4-1 at White Hart Lane.
Rafael van der Vaart made up for a missed first-half penalty by firing the Spurs early in the second half, and Roman Pavlyuchenko doubled the lead from the spot soon after.
Nacer Chadli replied for the visitors before van der Vaart was sent off for picking up two yellow cards. But Pavlyuchenko made the points safe with a coolly chipped second penalty in the 64th minute. Gareth Bale completed the scoring with five minutes to play.
In Group D, Barcelona welcomed Lionel Messi back from injury, but the Argentine sensation was unable to inspire his team to anything more than a 1-1 draw against Rubin Kazan.
Both goals came from the penalty spot, with Rubin skipper Christian Noboa putting the hosts in front in the first half and David Villa equalizing on the hour.
Messi came on as a second-half substitute after 10 days out with an ankle injury, and he saw a close-range effort blocked by Rubin goalkeeper Sergei Ryzhikov, while Rubin substitute Obafemi Martins almost snatched victory in the 87th minute when he hit the post with a header.
“We got a very important point tonight,” Villa said. “The penalty in the first half made life hard for us because they were playing well in defense.
“We missed a lot of chances, and the Rubin goalkeeper played very well, but finally we managed to level.”
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