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Second half propels Steaua to win

26 July 2006 23:59

NOVA GORICA, Jul 26 (SW) - A second-half surge with goals by Constantin Dica and Victoras Iacob guided former European champions Steaua to a 2-0 victory away to Nova Gorica in the first leg of their second qualifying round match in the Champions League.

The Romanians dominated the opening half but failed to hit the back of the net, setting the stage for Dica to strike in the 54th minute with an expertly-taken free kick that curled into the goal.

Another set piece proved the downfall of Nova Gorica 12 minutes later as Iacob jumped highest to get his head to a corner kick, beating Vasja Simcic to put Steaua firmly in control of the tie.

Liepajas Metalurgs - Dynamo Kiev 1-4

Ukraine's Dynamo Kiev have one foot in the third qualifying round after trouncing Liepajas Metalurgs away from home in the first leg.

Brazilian midfielder Diogo Rincón, who has been influential in past European campaigns for Dynamo, opened the scoring for the visitors after 21 minutes before Maksim Shatskikh doubled the advantage eight minutes later.

Latvia striker Maris Verpakovskis, who began his professional career with Metalurgs, marked his return home with a goal to make it 3-0 in the 32nd minute.

Another Latvia international, Girts Karlsons, could have pulled a goal back from the spot in the 43rd minute for Metalurgs, but his penalty was terribly taken and right at goalkeeper Olexander Shovkovskiy.

Dynamo controlled the play and extended their lead with eight minutes to go as Serbian defender Goran Gavrancic bagged Dynamo's fourth before Mindaugas Kalonas got a consolation for the hosts in the 88th minute.

Sheriff - Spartak Moscow 1-1

Moldovan champions Sheriff kept alive their outside hopes of advancing with a dramatic late equalizer against Spartak Moscow.

Sheriff did a magnificent job of fending off their Russian opponents for 76 minutes until Radoslav Kovac managed to break the deadlock with a deflection off a free kick, giving Spartak a crucial away goal in the tie.

The away goal would turn out to be their only advantage, though, as Razak Omotoyossi grabbed an injury-time equalizer after a spill by goalkeeper Wojciech Kowalewski to give Sheriff a glimmer of hope heading into the second leg in Moscow.

Cork City - Crvena Zvezda 0-1

Turner's Cross was in festive mood on Wednesday as the Republic of Ireland champion Cork City hosted former European champion Crvena Zvezda, but the Serbians came out on top thanks to an own goal.

With many scouting big Serbian forward Nikola Zigic, Cork forward Denis Behan took the stage for all the wrong reasons in the 37th minute when he misguided a Crvena Zvezda corner into his own goal.

Captain Dan Murray had an equalizer denied by the crossbar, and the Serbs mainly sat back in the second half to defend their away-goal advantage with the return leg next week in Belgrade.

Mladá Boleslav - Vålerenga 3-1

Champions League debutants Mladá Boleslav got off to a blazing start before Vålerenga pegged back late, although the Czechs came out with a first-leg win.

Boleslav, who finished a surprise second to Slovan Liberec last season, started off in amazing style as Lubos Pecka gave the home side the lead within seven minutes of the opening whistle.

Marek Matejovsky then stole the show, amazing extending the home side's lead to 3-0 with two goals before the clock had showed 20 minutes played.

Vålerenga, who lasted season famously ended Rosenborg's stranglehold on the Norwegian domestic game, were gifted what could be a vital away goal in the 67th minute as Boleslav's Frantisek Sevinsky directed the ball into his own net.

FH Hafnarfjördur - Legia 0-1

Icelandic part-timers FH thought they had secured a fantastic result at home in the second qualifying round, but a late goal snatched victory for Polish side Legia.

FH and Legia were scoreless through 83 minutes of the game before Brazilian striker Elton Brandão grabbed a dramatic winner to dent the hopes of the islanders.

The two sides meet again next week in Warsaw with the winner advancing to possibly play a European giant in the third qualifying round.

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