FC Steaua Bucureşti reached the UEFA Champions League group stage for the second successive season as goals in each half from Dorel Zaharia and Adrian Neaga secured a 2-0 win against FC BATE Borisov in the second leg of their third qualifying round tie to complete a 4-2 aggregate triumph.
The outcome could have been very different, however, had Dmitri Platonov's strike on goal not fizzed narrowly wide after just two minutes. The visitors began the match with purpose following a 2-2 first-leg draw in Belarus two weeks ago and Ryhor Filipenko's run down the right wing resulted in a pinpoint cross which Platonov met with conviction from ten metres out. Steaua quickly hit back and on eight minutes Zaharia fired a warning shot when he sent a header just wide. BATE failed to heed the danger signs, though, and three minutes later, the same striker was wheeling away in celebration after rising to head in a corner.
The Belarussian champions began the second half as they had the first and were unlucky not to be back on level terms four minutes after the restart when Platonov worked space inside the area only to see his shot blocked by defender Petre Marin. Four minutes later Platonov again threatened, this time sending a header goalwards which brought an acrobatic save out of goalkeeper Robinson Zapata.
The visitors were punished within a minute as Steaua went up the other end and scored, Bănel Nicoliţă racing down the left to deliver an inviting cross for Neaga to convert from four metres out and effectively end the contest. Thereafter chances fell for both sides as Steaua's Ovidiu Petre and Ryhor Filpenko of BATE were off-target with their efforts near the hour. The visitors went for broke in the closing stages but could not find a way past Zapata, who saved twice from Alaksandr Vishniakov as Steaua eased into Thursday evening's draw.
©UEFA.com 1998-2011. All rights reserved.