Former winners FC Bayern München and Manchester United FC powered their way into the first group stage of the UEFA Champions League with emphatic displays last night.
Bayern, European Champion Clubs' Cup winners in 2000/01, flexed their collective muscle with a scintillating 3-1 victory over FK Partizan to progress 6-1 on aggregate. Despite being three goals to the good from the first leg, more than 40,000 fans showed their support as Bayern stated their intent ahead of the competition's first round.
Ballack on target
Bixente Lizarazu fed Michael Ballack, who placed his shot into the top left-hand corner to open the scoring in the 26th minute, before Giovane Elber lobbed goalkeeper Radovan Radakovic to make it 2-0. Damir Kacar did pull one back for Partizan but Hasan Salihamidzic made no mistake from the spot when Branco Savic brought down Elber in the area.
United recovered from their shock 1-0 first-leg defeat at the hands of Zalaegerszegi TE a fortnight ago to dazzle their Hungarian opponents with a commanding 5-0 win at Old Trafford. The 1998/99 winners wasted little time in beginning their dismantling of the visitors, as Ruud van Nistelrooij opened the scoring in the sixth minute.
Van Nistelrooij double
Last season's Champions League top scorer, with ten goals, added his second from the penalty spot and strikes by David Beckham, Paul Scholes and Ole Gunnar Solsjkær only served to reinforce United's dominance. The only downside for United was an ankle injury to Scholes which looks likely to sideline the England international for at least a fortnight.
Feyenoord made it through to the first group stage after a 2-0 third qualifying round second-leg win away at Fenerbahçe SK of Turkey. Leading 1-0 from the first leg at the De Kuip, the Dutch side soaked up much of the hosts' early pressure before two second-half goals sealed their passage.
Ono the hero
Paul Bosvelt fed Shinji Ono on the left shortly after the interval, and the Japanese international, who scored the only first-leg goal, finished coolly. Substitute Thomas Buffel then wrapped up the game for Feyenoord to ensure a return to the Champions League group stage. Fenerbahçe, along with all the losing sides, must now be content with a place in the first round of the UEFA Cup.
Inter ended Sporting Club de Portugal's Champions League dream, as Luigi Di Biagio and Alvaro Recoba scored to see the Milan giants advance. The Italian side fully deserved to win the tie after a drawing in Lisbon a fortnight ago and then seeing off the Portuguese champions at the San Siro stadium.
In the night's other match, Belgium's KRC Genk rode their luck to progress after a spirited second-leg performance by AC Sparta Praha of the Czech Republic. Sparta recovered a 2-0 first-leg deficit - twice coming from behind to beat the Belgian champions 4-2 on the night - yet missed out agonisingly on away goals.
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