Andriy Voronin scored two minutes before half-time, and five-time winners Liverpool won 1-0 at Toulouse on Wednesday to move a step closer to the lucrative group stage of the Champions League.
Voronin fired a rising shot from 20m after collecting a headed pass from Peter Crouch in the 43rd minute at the Municipal Stadium. The victory gives last season’s runners-up an edge when they host Toulouse in the second leg at Anfield in two weeks for a place among the last 32.
”Andriy scored a wonderful goal. It summed up his qualities as a very fine striker,” said manager Rafa Benitez, who led Liverpool to a Champions League triumph in 2005 and last season’s final where they lost to AC Milan. ”But we must not think this tie is over. We did a very professional job in a match played in difficult conditions. It was so hot for the players and we were having to give them water continually.”
On a good night for English clubs, goals in the last 18 minutes by Cesc Fabregas (72nd) and Alexander Hleb (90th) gave 2006 finalists Arsenal a 2-0 victory at Sparta Prague.
David Kalivoda’s 76th-minute penalty gave Slavia Prague a 1-0 victory at four-time European champions Ajax. Sevilla, who have won the last two Uefa Cups, cruised to a 2-0 victory over AEK Athens with second-half goals by Luis Fabiano (48) and Frederic Kanoute (68).
Werder Bremen overcame a first-half deficit to beat Dinamo Zagreb 2-1 at home. Bosko Balaban gave Zagreb the lead two minutes before half-time but second-half substitutes Hugo Almeida and Daniel Jensen rallied the German side.
”We had to change something in the second half and the early goal did us a load of good. We played much better after the break,” said Werder coach Thomas Schaaf, whose team have been hit by a series of injuries to key players.
Gennady Bliznuk scored a last-minute equaliser for Belarussian club BATE for a 2-2 draw at home against 1986 European Cup winners Steaua Bucharest.
Paul Hartley’s 21st-minute strike gave Scottish champions Celtic the lead at Spartak Moscow but Roman Pavluchenko equalised in the 42nd.
In Wednesday’s other games, it was Fenerbahce 1, Anderlecht 0; Salzburg 1, Shakhtar Donetsk 0; Sarajevo 0, Dynamo Kiev 1; FC Zurich 1, Besiktas 1; and Tampere United 0, Rosenberg 3.
In Tuesday’s games, Valencia outplayed Sweden’s Elfsborg 3-0, Rangers edged Red Star Belgrade 1-0, two-time champions Benfica beat FC Copenhagen 2-1 and Lazio drew 1-1 with Dinamo Bucharest in Rome despite having two men sent off. — Sapa-AP