Ajax, Anderlecht stumble in Champions League

Slavia Prague reached the Champions League group stages for the first time on Wednesday after a 3-1 aggregate victory knocked out Ajax Amsterdam.

Belgian titleholders Anderlecht also succumbed in the third qualifying round, losing 2-0 at home to Fenerbahce amid violent crowd scenes.

The Turks reached Thursday’s draw alongside Arsenal, who trounced Sparta Prague 5-0 on aggregate and Werder Bremen, who dispatched Dinamo Zagreb.

Goalkeeper Artur Boruc saved two penalties to send Scottish champions Celtic through in a shoot-out with Spartak Moscow after a 1-1 extra time draw left them level at 2-2 on aggregate.

Benfica also progressed after beating FC Copenhagen while Valencia coasted to a 2-1 win at Sweden’s Elfsborg to seal a 5-1 aggregate win. Ivan Helguera and David Villa scored.

The night belonged to Slavia Prague and striker Stanislav Vlcek, whose two strikes put the Czechs into the group stage for the first time in five attempts.

Luis Suarez netted for Ajax with a low shot but despite other chances, the 1995 winners could not claw back their 1-0 home defeat two weeks ago and miss the group stages for a second season after defeat to FC Copenhagen last year.

Two penalties

Turkish champions Fenerbahce eclipsed Anderlecht 3-0 on aggregate in a game where Belgian police had to intervene after fans from both clubs clashed in the 80th minute.

The game had to be stopped for a number of minutes after Anderlecht fans attempted to jump over fencing dividing them and the visiting fans. Racist chanting was also heard.

Argentine midfielder Matias Delgado scored two headers as Besiktas joined their Istanbul rivals in the group stage by beating Zurich 2-0 at home and 3-1 overall.

Arsenal overcame Sparta Prague 3-0 in their second leg to reach the Champions League proper for the 10th successive season and again join Manchester United, Chelsea and Liverpool.

Czech international Tomas Rosicky netted against one of his former clubs with substitute Cesc Fabregas making it 2-0 after 82 minutes and recent signing Eduardo da Silva adding the gloss.

Two penalties from Brazilian midfielder Diego, one of them controversial, helped Germany’s Werder to a 3-2 win at Dinamo Zagreb and a 5-3 aggregate victory.

Shakhtar Donetsk won the battle of the big spenders by beating Austrian champions Salzburg 3-1 on the night and 3-2 on aggregate, thanks to a late goal from Brandao.

Ukraine will again have two teams in the group stages after Guinean striker Ismael Bangoura scored one and made another in Dynamo Kiev’s 3-0 home win over Bosnian champions Sarajevo, which gave them a 4-0 aggregate victory.

Under pressure coach Gheorghe Hagi boosted his chances of staying at 1986 European champions Steaua Bucharest with a 2-0 home win over BATE Borisov following a 2-2 draw in Belarus.

Rosenborg progressed after a 2-0 home win over Finland’s Tampere United gave the Norwegians a 5-0 aggregate triumph.

Liverpool knocked out Toulouse, Rangers edged past Red Star Belgrade and Lazio came back to beat Dinamo Bucharest in Tuesday’s matches, with the AEK Athens and Sevilla game put back until Monday following the death of Sevilla’s Antonio Puerta. — Reuters

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