Inter thwart Spurs comeback, Messi fires Barca
Milan: Samuel Eto`o struck twice in a 4-3 win for Champions League holders Inter Milan as they survived a thrilling Tottenham Hotspur revival while Nani lifted the Rooney gloom at Manchester United.
The extraordinary clash in the San Siro was the highlight of the third round of matches in Groups A-D as Tottenham conceded three times inside 15 minutes, had their goalkeeper sent off but almost snatched an unlikely point with a Gareth Bale hat-trick.
Nani scored a superb winner in United`s 1-0 win against Turkish side Bursaspor in Group C at Old Trafford while Lionel Messi`s double gave Barcelona a 2-0 win over Copenhagen in the Nou Camp as they replaced the Danes at the top of Group D.
In Group B Raul, the Champions League`s all-time record scorer, took his tally to 68 with a goal in each half for German side Schalke in a 3-1 defeat of Hapoel Tel Aviv.
"To score two goals in such a big game, my first for Schalke (in the Champions League) makes me feel good. I never thought I would score 68 goals. It is a day that I want to remember," the Spaniard told reporters.
Schalke trail Olympique Lyon who made it nine points out of nine with a 2-0 victory over Benfica. The French club are one of five sides with perfect records after three rounds of fixtures.
Rangers maintained Scottish hopes of a last-16 representative with a 1-1 home draw against Valencia to stay second behind Manchester United in Group C. Rangers midfielder Maurice Edu scored at both ends.
Panathinaikos drew 0-0 with Rubin Kazan in Group D, a result that did little to help either side`s chances of muscling in on Barcelona and Copenhagen`s tussle for top spot.
Twente Enschede drew 1-1 with Werder Bremen but it was the other match in Group A that provided the night`s fireworks.
Tottenham`s top-four finish in the Premier League last season was a contributary factor in bringing down the curtain on Rafael Benitez`s reign at Liverpool.
The Spaniard, now in the hot seat at Inter and tasked with following in the footsteps of Jose Mourinho, looked set to exact painful and humiliating revenge on Tottenham boss Harry Redknapp during a one-sided opening 35 minutes in the San Siro.
Tottenham fans had barely had time to climb to the upper tier`s of the cavernous stadium when Javier Zanetti gave Inter a second-minute lead and worse quickly followed for the visitors.
Eto`o made it 2-0 from the penalty spot after keeper Heurelho Gomes was sent off for bringing down Jonathan Biabiany before Dejan Stankovic netted a third after 14 minutes.
When Eto`o struck again before halftime Tottenham were in tatters but Welsh winger Bale produced three exquisite left-foot strikes in the second period, the last two in the 90th and 91st minutes, as the visitors were left to rue their terrible start.
"It was like your worst nightmare," Redknapp told reporters. "I would have settled for 4-0 down at halftime.”
"In the second half, we stayed with two wide men and one up front and Bale turned in an amazing second half performance."
England striker Wayne Rooney`s confirmation that he wants to quit Manchester United created a subdued atmosphere at Old Trafford where United laboured to finish off Bursaspor.
Rooney was out through injury but at least Nani provided some cheer for manager Alex Ferguson on his 2,000th match as a manager -- his seventh-minute solo goal worthy of former dazzler Cristiano Ronaldo before his switch to Real Madrid.
Such is the Rooney coud hanging over United that Nani`s goal failed to get a mention in Ferguson`s post-match news conference.
"What is really important is for us to put it to bed, we don`t want it to become a saga," Ferguson told reporters.
Messi continued to banish the memory of his disappointing World Cup by taking his Champions League tally this season to three. The Argentine lashed Barca in front after 19 minutes and struck again with a stoppage time tap-in.