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Friday, Nov. 26, 2010

Inter, Spurs, Barca make next round

LONDON (AP) Defending champion Inter Milan and three-time winner Barcelona were among seven teams to seal their places in the knockout stage of the Champions League on Wednesday.

News photo
Back in lineup: Manchester United's Wayne Rooney controls the ball against Rangers in Champions League action at Ibrox on Wednesday night. Man United won 1-0. AP PHOTO

Esteban Cambiasso's 55th-minute goal gave Inter a 1-0 home win over FC Twente that secured progress for the Serie A champions from Group A along with Tottenham, which beat Werder Bremen 3-0.

Argentina forward Lionel Messi maintained his hot streak by scoring his 150th goal for Barcelona in a 3-0 victory at Panathinaikos that guaranteed it top spot and qualification from Group D. Pedro Rodriguez scored the other two goals, one in each half.

Wayne Rooney converted an 87th-minute penalty in his first start for Manchester United in two months to earn his side a 1-0 win over Rangers in Group C and a place in the second round. Valencia also went through after thrashing Bursaspor 6-1, with Roberto Soldado scoring twice, and will play United away in a fortnight's time to decide the group winners.

Schalke beat Lyon 3-0 to advance into the last 16, while the French side also found itself through as a result of Benfica's surprise 3-0 loss at Hapoel Tel Aviv, which meant the Portuguese team cannot finish in the top two.

With Marseille, AC Milan, Chelsea, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich already through in the other half of the draw, the lineup for the second round is taking shape, with just four more places up for grabs ahead of Matchday 6.

Inter's win will ease the pressure on coach Rafa Benitez, who has come under fire in recent weeks after one win in six Serie A matches has left it languishing in sixth place.

Cambiasso's goal came 10 minutes into the second half, the Argentina midfielder reacting fastest after Wesley Sneijder's free kick had deflected off the wall.

Sneijder and Goran Pandev hit the bar as Inter sought to make it 2-0, while Twente substitute Denny Landzaat did the same with the Dutch team's best chance of the match.

Spurs eased past Bremen thanks to goals by Younes Kaboul, Luka Modric and Peter Crouch as the English club reached the second round in its first season in the competition.

Inter and Tottenham are level on 10 points, five ahead of Twente.

Messi scored for Barcelona as it swept to a comfortable victory in Athens.

Pedro Rodriguez had opened the scoring in the 27th, steering a finish past goalkeeper Alexandros Tzorvas in the 27th minute, before Messi applied the finishing touch to a flowing 62nd-minute move for his sixth goal in this season's competition and 23rd goal in 18 games in all competitions.

Second place is up for grabs in Group D after Rubin Kazan beat FC Copenhagen 1-0 thanks to Christian Noboa's penalty in first-half stoppage time. Rubin is a point behind the Danish team with one game remaining, but plays Barcelona away next.

Rooney was fit again after an ankle injury and with his future at United secure, having signed a new five-year contract last month. Starting his first match since Sept. 26, he marked it with the winner from the spot three minutes from time.

United needs a point from its home match against Valencia in two weeks to qualify in first place in Group C.

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