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CL Round-Up: UEFA Cup Winners Shakhtar Donetsk Dumped Out Of The Champions League

Champions League Third Qualifying Round - Results, Scorers

The most notable casualty in the Third Qualifying Round was Ukrainian side Shakhtar Donetsk, who could manage no more than a tepid goal-less draw against Timisoara.  Perhaps Mircea Lucescu’s side paid the price for letting league form slip last season during their excellent run to UEFA Cup glory.  After finishing off the pace set by Dynamo in the league, Shakhtar had to start the competition from this round, and after a 2-2 draw in the first leg last week at home, knew they had to score away to stand any chance of progressing.

In the end despite all the talent available to Shakhtar, who fielded a strong side for this match, they were able to muster only six attempts on goal, as Timisoara, who also finished second in the Romanian league, came through the tie relatively unscathed to claim their scalp on away goals.

Another significant result occurred in Moscow, where Celtic overturned a 1-0 deficit from their home leg to triumph 2-0 over Dynamo Moscow.  In a close encounter of few chances, Tony Mowbray’s men prevailed thanks to goals just before the end of each half.  Scott McDonald netted on 45 minutes, and with the tie evenly poised and on the verge of heading into extra-time substitute Georgios Samaras grabbed the winner scoring his first European goal for Celtic in the process. 

FC Zurich also overcame a poor performance in the home leg seven days ago, when they slipped to a 2-3 defeat to Slovenian side Maribor.  Despite an evenly contested match, Zurich proved more deadly on the counter-attack and edged into an aggregate lead of 5-4 by half-time thanks to goals from Djuric and Margairaz.  Maribor pressed hard for an equalizer in the tie which would have restored their advantage on the away goals, but the Swiss side snatched a late third in the second half to break the Slovenian side’s hearts and confirm their victory 3-5 on aggregate.

However, Serb champions Partizan were unable to make up their margin in the second leg after going down to a 2-0 defeat last week in Cyprus to APOEL Nicosia.  An early goal in Belgrade from Moreira gave home fans grounds for optimism, but despite plenty of pressure Partizan were unable to find the crucial second and lost the tie 2-1 on aggregate.

There were one or two other surprises around as well.  Well-fancied Czech champions Slavia Prague failed to build on a 0-0 draw from the away leg against Moldavian champions Sheriff.  The Czech side grabbed the lead within the first quarter of an hour thanks to a goal from Hlousek, but were unable to consolidate their lead managing just one more attempt on goal for the remainder of the game.  Jose Nadson punished Slavia by snatching an equalizer 3 minutes into injury time to tilt the tie decisively towards Sheriff thanks to the away goal, leaving the home side no time to respond.

Away goals also proved decisive in a battle of two teams from the former USSR.  Latvian champions Ventspils defending a 1-0 lead form the home leg must have thought they’d done enough when they opened the scoring early on against BATE Borisov from Belarus.  However a brace of goals from Sergei Kryvets dragged the home side back into contention and set up a tense finish.  Ultimately Ventspils just managed to hang on and scramble through thanks to away goals. 

Progress was more straight forward for FC Copenhagen, who did all the hard-work last week in the home leg beating Norwegians Stabaek 3-1.  A 0-0 score-line in Norway was enough to send them through to the next stage.  Greek champions Olympiacos were even more comfortable thanks to a 0-2 advantage from the away leg against Slovan Bratislava.  Another repeat of the dose thanks to goals from Maresca and Diogo eased the Greeks through efficiently.

Bulgarian champions Levski had a comfortable evening in Sofia where they overcame FC Baku 2-0 on the night and on aggregate.  Finally Hungarian side Debrecen ended the excellent run of Levadia from Estonia thanks to a 1-0 win at home, and a 2-0 triumph over the course of the two legs.

The draw for the final qualifying stage is due to take place on Friday with several big names such as Arsenal, Atletico Madrid and Lyon due to enter. 

Full Results:


Walter Townsend,