RSC Anderlecht took a huge step towards the UEFA Champions League third qualifying round, the draw for which takes place this Friday, as five different players opened their 2005/06 accounts in an emphatic victory against Azeri side PFC Neftchi in Belgium.
Hannu Tihinen, Nenad Jestrovic, Mbo Mpenza and Bart Goor all found the net in a frantic 16-minute spell midway through the first half of a one-sided second qualifying round first-leg encounter as coach Franky Vercauteren experienced an enjoyable first European outing with Anderlecht. Veteran defender Yves Vanderhaeghe then sealed the win late on.
Finnish defender Tihinen broke the deadlock on 20 minutes and Jestrovic, who scored 18 league goals for Anderlecht last season, doubled the lead three minutes later. 28-year-old Belgium striker Mpenza made it three just past the half-hour mark and midfield player Goor's goal came with ten minutes of the first half still to play.
Vanderhaeghe's 78th-minute goal, the 35-year-old's fourth of the calendar year, ensured last season's Belgian First Division runners-up will take a considerable advantage to Azerbaijan for the second leg next week.