Manchester United paid the price for fielding a weakened side when they were held 0-0 in the Champions League on Tuesday by a resilient Rangers devoid of big names. Manager Alex Ferguson rued his decision to leave out striker Dimitar Berbatov and the creative skills of Paul Scholes were also missed in the turgid Group C opener.
Adding to the English side's gloom on a subdued night at Old Trafford was a serious injury for winger Antonio Valencia, who left the field on a stretcher with either dislocated or fractured his left ankle.
Ferguson defended his lineup, saying he had wanted to try out players who had not started, but admitted selecting striker Javier Hernandez to partner the quiet Wayne Rooney had been a mistake.
“It played Berbatov out ... he's been one of our best players this season, that was a loss,” Ferguson said. “His ability to create out of tight situations would have made a difference.”
Winger Valencia underwent surgery on Wednesday for a horrific ankle injury that could end his season. The sickening angle his foot was in led broadcasters to decide not to show replays. The sight of him in agony with a broken and dislocated ankle silenced Old Trafford and distressed the other players.
“You see things like that on television and it's not good but to see it there in front of you, it doesn't look nice and I just hope he recovers quickly,” said Rangers defender Kirk Broadfoot, whose innocuous challenge led to the incident.
“I'm not too sure what happened,” local media quoted him as saying. “I just slid in and looked round and his bone was sticking out. We tried to get the physio on to help him because you don't like to see that.”
Holders Inter held 2-2 by debutants
Enschede, Netherlands: Inter Milan needed goals from Wesley Sneijder and Samuel Eto'o to scramble a 2-2 draw away to debutants Twente Enschede in an uncomfortable start to their Champions League defence.
The frugal European champions opted to stick with the same team that clinched an unprecedented Italian treble, minus the sold Mario Balotelli, but that decision could now hang over them like a dark cloud given their lack of forward options.
Eto'o sealed the draw with a strike from outside the area on 41 minutes which skipped along the wet turf right into the bottom corner of the net. Earlier, Sneijder had opened the scoring. But Theo Janssen equalised for Twente while Milito scored an own goal.
Messi on fire as Barca run riot at Nou Camp
London: The world's best player Lionel Messi lit up the opening night for Barcelona, scoring two classy goals before missing a penalty as Barca recovered from an early shock to thrash visiting Panathinaikos 5-1 in Group D.
Messi would have celebrated a hattrick but for the second-half penalty save and he also rattled the goal frame before halftime. David Villa, Pedro and Dani Alves also found the net for the Catalans.
Turkish side Bursaspor lost 0-4 to Valencia at home, in Group C's other game. In Group B, Benfica and Lyon started with victories. Benfica beat Israel's Hapoel Tel Aviv 2-0 and Lyon scraped a 1-0 win over Schalke, who played the second half with 10 men after Benedikt Hoewedes was sent off.