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CL Qualifiers: Holders Liverpool one match from group stage

11 August 2005 00:54

SOFIA, Aug 11 (SW) - Reigning European champions Liverpool have one foot in the Champions League group stage after a 3-1 win at Bulgarian champions CSKA Sofia in the first leg of their third qualifying round tie.

CSKA Sofia - Liverpool 1-3

Djibril Cissé put the Reds in front on 26 minutes, taking a pass from skipper Steven Gerrard before putting in the net for a 1-0 lead.

Fernando Morientes then doubled the advantage five minutes later, again Gerrard setting up the goalscorer with a nifty pass which allowed the Spaniard to head into the goal.

CSKA got one back just before the interval as Velizar Dimitrov headed home the ball at the far post past José Reina to give the home side some hope in the second half.

However, Liverpool restored their two-goal lead just short of the hour mark when Morientes, who has struggled to find regular playing time at Liverpool, got his second goal of the evening after the ball squeezed through the legs of goalkeeper Evgheni Hmaruc.

Shakhtar Donetsk - Inter Milan 0-2

Inter Milan, who have been in the news constantly this summer with several new signings, got some old faces involved en route to their victory in the Ukraine on Wednesday.

Nigerian striker Obafemi Martins put the Italians in front on 67 minutes after Adriano, marked by two players, sent a back-heel flick to Martins who slotted past Jan Laštuvka in the Skakhtar goal for a 1-0 lead.

Eleven minutes later, Adriano himself got involved, putting in a crucial goal when he got on the end of a cross by substitute Zé Maria for a two-goal advantage heading into the second leg at the San Siro.

Brøndby - Ajax 2-2

Michael Laudrup's Brøndby side needed to come back twice to draw Dutch side Ajax, although Danny Blind's first competitive match in charge of Ajax ended in his side's advantage, altough they probably should have won the game.

A half-hour into the match, Swedish international Markus Rosenberg put into the Brøndby net after a Steven Pienaar cross, a nice way to mark his debut with the club.

However, three minutes later the Danish side were level when Morten Skoubo took advantage of a mistake in the Ajax defense before beating Hans Vonk in goal for 1-1.

Youth again paid dividends for Blind's side in the 74th minute when 18-year-old Dutch star Ryan Babel beat Casper Ankergren from a good distance effort.

The home side would again find a way to keep themselves in the tie, getting a lucky deflection in the final moments to level the match. An effort from distance by Martin Retov deflected off of Ajax's Julien Escudé before rolling painfully past a helpless Vonk for 2-2.

Sporting Lisbon - Udinese 0-1

Champions League newcomers Udinese made good on their debut, notching a 1-0 victory in Lisbon at Sporting Clube de Portugal thanks to a Vincenzo Iaquinta spot kick.

In the 29th minute, Paulo Barreto was felled in the area by Miguel Garcia, who was booked for the offense. Striker Iaquinta stepped up to the spot and comfortably beat goalkeeper Ricardo to give the Italians the lead.

The second leg is set for what will be a packed Stadio Friuli in Udine in a fortnight's time.

Steaua - Rosenborg 1-1

Rosenborg got a late goal from Thorstein Helstad to get a crucial away goal in their first leg match against former European champions Steaua in Bucharest.

The Romanians took the lead on the half-hour when Victoras Iacob's great solo effort beyond goalkeeper Espen Johnsen put the home side in front with 1-0 lead.

Rosenborg, mired in a miserable Norwegian domestic campaign, were playing their first match under new manager Per-Mathias Høgmo and squeezed out an equalizer five minutes from the end when Helstad beat the Steaua offside trap.

Basel - Werder Bremen 2-1

A Miroslav Klose goal with a quarter-hour to go gave Werder Bremem some hope for the second leg, but they fell to Swiss champions Basel at St. Jakob Park on Wednesday night.

On 27 minutes, David Degen put the home side in front, putting in after goalkeeper Andreas Reinke had stopped a shot by Australian winger Scott Chipperfield.

Seven minutes into the second half, Basel went two goals to the good as Julio Rossi doubled the lead before Klose pulled a goal back for Bremen in the 73rd minute.

Malmö - Thun 0-1

Swiss side Thun are on the verge of the Champions League group stage for the first time after a solitary effort by Adriano Pimenta gave them a victory over Malmö in Sweden.

Having already knocked out Dynamo Kiev in the last round, Thun went in front on 34 minutes when Pimenta, getting onto Andreas Gerber's cross from the right before beating goalkeeper Mattias Asper from the edge of the area.

Malmö, who feature Finnish legend Jari Litmanen, had plenty of chances to pull level, but the Swiss side held their nerve and put themselves in prime position for the second leg in two weeks.

Anderlecht - Slavia Prague 2-1

Belgian champions Anderlecht got two first half strikes to take a narrow home win over Czech runners-up Slavia Prague, but need to earn at least a draw in the second leg to advance.

Bart Goor opened the scoring on just six minutes when he got on the end of a Pär Zetterberg pass before slotting into the Slavia net for 1-0.

However, the valiant Czechs got what could be a big away goal when Lukas Jarolim lobbed goalkeeper Daniel Zitka for a 1-1 scoreline.

The Belgians were spared blushes by Mbo Mpenza with seven minutes to go in the first half when Goor's free kick was lofted toward Mpenza who headed past Matus Kozacik to secure the winner.

Rapid Wien - Lokomotiv Moscow 1-1

Rapid Wien managed just a 1-1 draw at home against ten-man Lokomotiv Moscow on Wednesday at the Gerhard Hanappi stadium in Vienna.

Ten minutes in, the visitors went in front when Alexander Samedov beat Rapid goalkeeper Helge Payer after a nice pass from Igor Lebedenko set him up nicely.

In the 74th minute, Lokomotiv were down to ten players when André Bikey was sent off for his second bookable offense of the match after a foul in the penalty area on Muhammet Akagündüz.

Jozef Vlahovic then stepped up to the penalty spot and converted the shot to make it 1-1. Vlahovic and Steffen Hofmann both had chances to take the lead later on, the latter of the two smashing a 30-yard shot against the post.

Artmedia Bratislava - Partizan 0-0

Slovakian champions Artmedia Bratislava, who claimed the scalp of Celtic in the second qualifying round, were disappointed on Wednesday night when they were held to a 0-0 draw at home by Serbian champions Partizan.

Both sides produced good performances and Partizan had plenty of chances to grab an away goal in the first half, but were repeatedly foiled by the Bratislava defenders.

The home side had more chances in the second term including one by last round's hero Juraj Halenar, but several players failed to put into the nets.

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