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Sep 29, 2010

Hat-trick hero Eto'o: Jose played me as a defender

Samuel Eto'o revelled in his role as a striker in the 4-0 win over Werder Bremen and then took a swipe at former boss Jose Mourinho for playing him as a "defender".

• Champions League Gallery

Eto'o fired a sparkling hat-trick as the defending champions ripped Bremen apart in the first half, and he set up the other goal for midfielder Wesley Sneijder.

The Cameroon striker was deployed as a right-sided midfielder during Inter's run to the trophy last season and after bagging his first treble of the season Eto'o said he was pleased to have been restored to his favoured role after being shackled by Mourinho's conservative style.

"I'm happy to win as a striker after winning as a defender last season," Eto'o said. "This is a victory for the whole team, though. The side played very well, even if we had important players missing, and the youngsters really impressed."

Meanwhile, Inter boss Rafael Benitez insisted his side can play better, despite them racing into a three-goal lead inside 34 minutes.

"I don't think this was our best performance of the season at all. We can play better," he said. "For example, against Bari, in the second half with Bologna and at the start with Udinese we had more intensity than this evening."

As for Eto'o, Benitez didn't give a clue as to whether he would continue in the striker role when Diego Milito returns from injury: "He is already close to the goal when he plays wide, but the most important thing is the mentality."

Inter were forced into two changes as Lucio was stretchered off after pulling a groin muscle, while goalkeeper Julio Cesar was withdrawn with a thigh complaint.

"It is difficult to play three games per week," Benitez added. "Lucio's injury doesn't look too serious, but we need to wait and see. Julio Cesar came off as a precautionary measure, as he had a slight muscular pain in his left thigh.

"We had the right balance. The youngsters need time, but there are experienced players to help them. It is always better to win while playing well, but we hope to also find success when our performance is less sparkling."

Esteban Cambiasso hailed Inter's versatility: "The strength of this team has always been that we are ready when our coaches make the call. Once again this evening, we proved we're ready for anything," he told RAI Sport.

"It was a deserved victory and some great football. What players need is the strength to show they are above everything that is said about them. We cannot always listen to the pundits. According to all these people, we are phenomenal tonight and were disasters three days ago. In three days' time, it'll be something else again.

"We must know that hard work pays off and that is the only secret to achieve success. Werder Bremen had a good chance after a couple of minutes, but we never felt the game was not in our hands. We had faith in ourselves and it showed. This result does not give us any more or less confidence than we had before. One has to keep calm and balanced throughout a campaign, which is the attitude we wanted to show our younger team-mates."

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