The victorious coaches from last night's six UEFA Champions League third qualifying round ties woke up this morning looking forward to tomorrow's draw for the group stage.
RSC Anderlecht coach Hugo Broos masterminded probably the most dramatic triumph, as his side overturned a 1-0 first-leg deficit to SL Benfica with a 3-0 home win. "In recent days I have said I had a good feeling, and some did not believe me, but I have been proved right," Broos said.
Broos admitted he may strengthen his squad prior to Matchday 1 on 14-15 September. "I think this team is stronger now than it was last year," he said. "But I can only be sure about it when the transfer market closes on 31 August."
His opposite number, Giovanni Trapattoni, whose side now enter the UEFA Cup, said: "We have now lost out on Champions League qualification, but the season has only just begun. There are still a lot of trophies left to be won."
Last season's finalists AS Monaco FC qualifed again for the group stage after a 6-0 home win against Slovenia's NK Gorica completed a 9-0 aggregate victory. Monaco coach Didier Deschamps said: "This qualification gets us out of a spot from a sporting and financial point of view. After our Champions League campaign last year, to be back was essential."
FC Internazionale are also back in the élite 32 thanks to a 4-1 victory against FC Basel 1893, following a 1-1 first-leg draw. Coach Roberto Mancini said: "Basel are an organised side and it was a difficult task for us. It will be a long and difficult season. Today, however, we just have to enjoy this victory."
RC Deportivo La Coruña had to wait until the last 20 minutes before finally breaking down Shelbourne FC at the Riazor, eventually winning 3-0. Deportivo coach Javier Irureta, whose side have yet to begin their domestic season, said: "It was not an easy passage for us because Shelbourne made life difficult for us.
When you have only played one competitive match, everything appears difficult until the first goal goes in."
Henry looks ahead
Shelbourne, along with Gorica, were the only survivors from the first qualifying round and completed the best-ever Irish run in the Champions League. Captain Owen Heary is looking ahead to the UEFA Cup, and said: "We will watch the draw on Friday and see who we are playing and I am sure the fans will be the same again. They have been amazing throughout."
Elsewhere, Liverpool FC were grateful for their 2-0 first-leg win at Grazer AK as they lost the return 1-0 at Anfield. Manager Rafael Benítez said: "The most important thing is we are qualified. We had problems, we were nervous and lost a lot of second balls."
Last night's most dramatic victory was Rosenborg BK's against Maccabi Haifa FC. Rosenborg coach Ola By Rise admitted to some sympathy for the Israeli side after the Norwegians escaped elimination with a 90th-minute goal, before winning 3-2 after extra time to secure a 5-3 aggregate win. "I feel sorry for them because this is a cruel way to lose a tie. But based on our performance in the second half we had to win," said Rise.
His distraught counterpart, Roni Levy, said: "I cannot fault my players for effort or ability. We will take two days to pick ourselves and then look forward to the UEFA Cup."
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