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Three things we learned on Tuesday ...
by Paul Kennedy, November 25th, 2009 7AM

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[UEFA CHAMPIONS LEAGUE] Predictions of Barcelona's quick demise proved to be unfounded as the defending European and Spanish champion beat Inter Milan, 2-0, at Camp Nou on Tuesday and moved closer to qualifying for the knockout phase of the UEFA Champions League. On the other hand, Liverpool and Rangers were both eliminated. Here are three things we learned on Tuesday ...

Barcelona has the depth to win without its stars.

Even without the injured Lionel Messi and Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Barca outclassed Inter Milan, beating the Italian champion, 2-0, in a match that catapulted it from third place to first in Group F with one game to play.

Barca started 22-year-old Pedro up front, and he came through with the second goal midway through the first half. Late in the game, Barca coach Pep Guardiola brought on teenagers Bojan Krkic and Jonathan Dos Santos, younger brother of Mexico star Giovani Dos Santos.

Inter coach Jose Mourinho had no complaints about the outcome. "They were far superior," he said of Barcelona, which needs only a point in its final group match at Dynamo Kiev to clinch a berth in the second round.

Rangers can't handle the pressure of the Champions League at home.

Scottish champion Rangers crashed out of the Champions League after falling to VfB Stuttgart, 2-0, at home. The loss left Rangers without a point at Ibrox in its three group games. It suffered back-to-back 4-1 defeats to Sevilla and Unirea Urziceni in the other matches in Glasgow.

"The pressure of having to create at home is something we've not been able to handle particularly well," said Rangers manager Walter Smith. "I think away from home the expectation is not as great, in terms of having to go forward and win the game. We've even been far better in our possession away from home than we have in home matches, which is a disappointment for us. We've not been good enough when the expectation is to go and win the game. We have to take that on board. There are no excuses."

Rafa Benitez will remain the Liverpool manager, despite the Reds' early exit.

Liverpool was eliminated from the Champions League on Tuesday despite its 1-0 win at Debrecen, but Spaniard Rafael Benitez will remain as the Reds manager for now. After Fiorentina's 1-0 victory over Lyon clinched the second berth from Group E in the round of 16, Liverpool managing director Christian Purslow said Benitez's job was safe.

"What has happened has no bearing on Rafa's job whatsoever," said Purslow. "He signed a new five-year deal only months ago and in those terms he is eight months into a five-year journey. You don't deviate from long-term plans for people, and the way to take the club to the next level, because of two late goals in the games against Lyon. And that's what not getting through boils down to."

Group E
Debrecen 0 Liverpool 1
Scorer: David Ngog 4
Fiorentina 1 Lyon 0
Scorer: Juan Vargas 28 pen.

Group F
Rubin Kazan 0 Dynamo Kiev 0
Barcelona 2 Inter Milan 0
Scorers: Gerard Pique 10, Pedro 26

Group G
Unirea Urziceni 1 Sevilla 0
Scorer: own goal 45
Rangers 0 VfB Stuttgart 2
Scorers: Sebastian Rudy 16, Zdravko Kuzmanovic 59

Group H
Arsenal 2 Standard Liege 0
Scorers: Samir Nasri 35, Denilson 45+2
AZ 0 Olympiakos 0


 



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