Messi on song as Barca back on track

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 Copenhagen 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.

Wesley Sneijder’s opener for the Italians was cancelled out by Theo Janssen’s 20th-minute equaliser and Inter then fell behind when Diego Milito headed a Janssen corner into his own net.

Inter rallied and Samuel Eto’o equalised in the 41st minute before a goalless second half ensured both sides would start unbeaten in Group A.

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.

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.


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