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English Premiership

United win, Barca scrape through

PARIS, September 30 – Javier Hernandez earned Manchester United a smash-and-grab 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 were drifting towards their second straight goalless draw in the competition, having been held 0-0 at home by Rangers two weeks ago, when Hernandez took a pass from Federico Macheda and rammed home in the 85th minute.

The Mexican had earlier struck a post from close-range, while Spanish league leaders Valencia’s best chance saw Roberto Soldado head 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 Spanish opposition once in 18 previous visits to Spain.

"It’s a difficult place to come. Our record stretches over a long period. Nonetheless, we’re pleased to win."

In the evening’s other Group C game, Rangers beat Bursaspor 1-0.

Defending champions Inter brushed aside Bremen 4-0 at the San Siro to record their 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 mid-way 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.

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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 nine minutes from time.

Inter coach Rafael Benitez said Eto’o’s hat-trick had nothing to do with the fact he was playing in the centre in place of the injured Diego Milito.

"Samuel is always close to the goal, even when he plays on the left," said Benitez. "The industry and application of the players count more than the system of play."

Inter have four points from two games and top Group A alongside Tottenham, who defeated Twente 4-1 at White Hart Lane.

Rafael van der Vaart made up for a missed first-half penalty by firing Spurs in front 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 at 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 equalising on the hour.

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Messi came on as a second-half substitute after 10 days out with an ankle injury and 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," said Villa.

"The penalty in the first half made life hard for us because they were playing well in defence.

"We missed a lot of chances and the Rubin goalkeeper played very well, but finally we managed to level."

Barca, who lost 2-1 at home to Rubin in last season’s group phase, have four points from two games, but FC Copenhagen top the group with six points after securing an unexpected 2-0 win at Panathinaikos.

Lyon put their domestic difficulties behind them to record a 3-1 victory at Hapoel Tel Aviv.

The French side are 18th in Ligue 1 with just one win from seven games but prevailed via a first-half brace from Michel Bastos and a late goal from Miralem Pjanic.

Goals from Jefferson Farfan and Klaas-Jan Huntelaar earned Schalke a 2-0 win over Benfica in the night’s other Group B fixture.

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