The three sides in with a chance of qualifying for the last 16 of UEFA Champions League on Tuesday were all made to wait after a trying evening.
Reigning champions Inter Milan came unstuck against a vibrant Tottenham Hotspur side, Lyon went down to Benfica despite an exciting late rally, and Barcelona needed another Lionel Messi goal to keep Copenhagen in check. Elsewhere, Manchester United eased past Bursaspor in Turkey, while section rivals Valencia boosted their hopes of progress by downing Glasgow Rangers.
FIFA.com has the news on those games and more as Matchday 4 got under way.
Match of the day
Tottenham Hotspur 3-1 Inter Milan
Goals: Rafael Van der Vaart 18, Peter Crouch 61, Roman Pavlyuchenko 89 (Tottenham); Samuel Eto'o 80 (Inter)
Inspired by another majestic performance from Welsh wizard Gareth Bale, a rampant Spurs side toyed with holders Inter Milan, subjecting the Nerazzurri rearguard to an examination they are unlikely to forget in a hurry. No one suffered more than Brazilian star Maicon, who was powerless to stem Bale’s devastating runs down the left, the source of two of Spurs’ three goals.
Rafael van der Vaart set the home side on the road to victory in the first half, latching on to a cute Luka Modric pass before calmly slotting past Luca Castellazzi in the Inter goal. Bale, the scorer of a hat-trick when the two sides met in Milan a fortnight ago, then took over. First he left Maicon trailing in his wake to tee up Peter Crouch for Spurs’ second. Then he nutmegged a bewildered Lucio en route to sliding another precision pass into Pavlyuchenko’s path, killing off any revival hopes Inter had harboured and earning the adulation of an ecstatic White Hart Lane.
Twente pulled off something of a surprise in the other game in Group A, winning 2-0 at Werder Bremen to stay third. Torsten Frings’ 76th-minute sending-off proved crucial, with the Dutchmen snatching two late goals to claim a potentially valuable win.
Benfica threw Group B wide open when they overcame section leaders Lyon at home to move to within a point of second place. The Frenchmen, who had won their three opening games, were no match for the pacy Portuguese, who surged into a 4-0 lead after 67 minutes, two of the goals coming from Fabio Coentrao. Rousing themselves from their slumber, last season’s semi-finalists staged a late revival, scoring three times before time ran out on them. In the other game in the pool, second-placed Schalke 04 were grateful to goalkeeper Manuel Neuer as they played out a goalless stalemate with Hapoel in Tel Aviv.
Having matched Manchester United for 45 minutes in their Group C meeting, Bursaspor promptly buckled in the second half, shipping three goals as Sir Alex Ferguson’s men moved within touching distance of the next round. Valencia gave themselves every chance of joining them after sweeping to a 3-0 defeat of their closest rivals Glasgow Rangers, striker Roberto Soldado scoring twice as the Scots slipped down to third in the table.
Finally, in Group D, Lionel Messi added another goal to his Champions League haul as Barcelona were matched by an energetic Copenhagen. The Danes responded quickly to the Argentinian’s opener, Claudemir volleying home at the far post after Victor Valdes had flapped at a cross. Although Pedro struck the post late on, the Catalans can be grateful for a point after a testing examination. With two games remaining, the duo look well placed to proceed, Rubin Kazan and Panathinaikos having done little to advance their respective causes in playing out a 0-0 draw earlier in the evening.
25 years and 196 days - The average age of the Benfica team against Lyon, the youngest the club has ever fielded in the Champions League.
Goal of the day
Bursaspor 0-2 Manchester United, Gabriel Obertan 74
Collecting a Park Ji-Sung pass on the edge of the Bursaspor box, the young Frenchman switched the ball from his left foot to his right before, with a minimum of backlift, rifling the ball past a startled Dimitar Ivankov and into the back of the net.
All four groups are back in action again on Wednesday 24 November:
Group A: Tottenham-Werder Bremen, Inter Milan-Twente
Group B: Schalke 04-Lyon, Hapoel Tel Aviv-Benfica
Group C: Glasgow Rangers-Manchester United, Valencia-Bursaspor
Group D: Panathinaikos-Barcelona, Rubin Kazan-Copenhagen
Have your say
Can Tottenham pip Inter Milan to first place in Group A?