PSV Eindhoven won an extraordinary game in the Philips stadium in Eindhoven as they defeated AJ Auxerre, who had two players sent off, in UEFA Champions League Group A.
Yet the resounding victory was not enough to prolong the Dutch side’s participation in the tournament after BV Borussia Dortmund's 2-1 win over Arsenal in Germany. But they have moved above their French opponents and are favourites to take third place in the group, thereby qualifying for the UEFA Cup.
The game began brightly with PSV's Dennis Rommedahl firing just wide from a free-kick after only two minutes. The Danish international was heavily involved again six minutes later as he broke clear down the PSV right and pulled the ball back to Arnold Bruggink, who blazed over the bar with the goal at his mercy.
Rommedahl and Bruggink, together with Arjen Robben, were a constant threat to Auxerre's defence and Bruggink was at the centre of the action again just past the quarter-hour. First, he saw a free-kick curl just wide of Fabien Cool's right-hand post in the 17th minute and, a minute later, he went down as he tried to go round the Auxerre goalkeeper only to be booked for simulation.
Auxerre failed to show much as an attacking force, with captain Yann Lachuer's deflected shot the closest they came to scoring all game. In the 26th minute, their hopes took a huge blow as influential defender Philippe Mexes was dismissed. Having been cautioned three minutes earlier, the French international checked Robben's run as the PSV forward broke past him, leaving the referee with no option but to produce a second yellow card.
Bruggink on target
Wilfred Bouma came close to taking immediate advantage of the situation, heading a Bruggink free-kick just over the crossbar. However, as Auxerre were still coming to terms with coach Guy Roux's reorganisation, PSV took the lead in the 34th minute. Mateja Kezman's attempted pass to Robben was cut out, but the ball fell conveniently for Bruggink who beat Cool from just inside the penalty area.
The home side twice came close to doubling their lead five minutes before the interval, as Mark van Bommel saw an audacious 20-metre chip tipped over the bar by Cool and Bouma again was off target with his header from the resulting corner.
The match was effectively ended as a contest six minutes into the second period. As Auxerre pressed forward, PSV broke clear and Robben's pass found Kezman racing down the PSV left. His low cross picked out Rommedahl, who made no mistake.
Auxerre's already slender chances suffered another blow in the 51st minute, as Olivier Kapo became their second player dismissed following a clash with Kevin Hofland. With a two-man advantage PSV were in complete command and added a third goal in the 64th minute. Robben exchanged passes with Kezman down the left and curled the Yugoslavian striker's return pass inside Cool's far post from just inside the penalty area.