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Inter Opens Champions League Defense With Tie; Barcelona Wins

Sept. 15 (Bloomberg) -- Inter Milan opened its Champions League title defense with a 2-2 tie at FC Twente, while Barcelona came from behind to rout Panathinaikos 5-1.

Lyon, Benfica, Valencia and Copenhagen won as the group stage of Europe’s top club competition began. Premier League rivals Manchester United and Tottenham both drew.

Samuel Eto’o’s goal four minutes before halftime earned Inter the away draw in Group A. Wesley Sneijder gave the titleholder the lead in the 13th minute and Theo Janssen tied it for the Dutch champion seven minutes later. Twente took the lead on an own goal from Diego Milito before Eto’o scored.

“The first half was very difficult but we did very well in the second,” Inter coach Rafael Benitez told reporters. “We controlled the game and I’m satisfied with the second half against a difficult team.”

Werder Bremen also rallied for a 2-2 tie against Tottenham in the other Group A match in Germany.

Tottenham, making its Champions League debut, took a 2-0 lead after 18 minutes on an own goal from Petri Pasanen and Peter Crouch’s header. Bremen’s Hugo Almeida scored with a header just before halftime and Marco Marin tied the game two minutes after the break.

“If we play like that every game, we won’t go too far wrong,” Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp told reporters. “That first half was as good as you could wish to see from us.”

Messi Record

Lionel Messi scored twice to help Barcelona rally from an early deficit at home against Panathinaikos in Group D. The Argentina international’s double makes him Barcelona’s all-time leading scorer in the Champions League with 27 goals.

Sidney Govou scored for the Greek squad in the 20th minute and Messi tied it two minutes later. David Villa put Barcelona in front in the 33rd minute and Messi scored his second just before halftime. Pedro Rodriguez and Dani Alves added goals after the break.

Dame N’Doye scored with a header with three minutes remaining to give Copenhagen a 1-0 home win over Rubin Kazan in the other Group D match.

Three-time champion Manchester United was held to a 0-0 tie at Old Trafford by Rangers in Group C.

Wayne Rooney returned to the United lineup after sitting out a 3-3 tie at Everton on Sept. 11 following media reports about his personal life.

Team Revamp

Manchester manager Alex Ferguson made 10 changes to the team that faced Everton, with captain Rio Ferdinand returning from a knee injury that forced him out of this year’s World Cup.

United’s Antonio Valencia has a suspected broken ankle after a 63rd-minute incident.

“As soon as I saw the Rangers player waving to the bench we knew it was a bad one,” Ferguson told reporters. “It’s a bad one. It will keep him out for a long time. He seemed to dig his toe in the turf.”

Tino Costa, Aritz Aduriz, Pablo Hernandez and Roberto Soldado scored as Valencia won 4-0 over Bursaspor in Group C in Turkey.

In Group B, Luisao and Oscar Cardozo scored in Benfica’s 2-0 win over Hapoel Tel-Aviv, while Michel Bastos’s goal in the 21st minute gave Lyon a 1-0 win over Schalke.

The remaining four groups kick off tomorrow with Jose Mourinho, who led Inter to the title last season, and Real Madrid meeting Ajax, while 2010 runner-up Bayern Munich hosts Roma.

To contact the reporter on this story: Bob Bensch in London at bbensch@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Christopher Elser at celser@bloomberg.net.

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