Three of the four UEFA Cup quarter-final matches ended in draws on Thursday night, with Hapoel Tel-Aviv again taking the plaudits with a superb 1-0 defeat of Milan AC in Cyprus in their first-leg tie.
The Israeli side, who had to play their home leg in Cyprus because of the security situation in their homeland, were backed by a vociferous band of supporters in the GSP stadium in Nicosia and they delighted them by humbling the Italian aristocrats.
Having already accounted for leading clubs from England and Russia, Tel-Aviv can sense their second Serie A scalp. Parma AC were eliminated in round four and after Serghey Clescenko drilled home a fine winning goal in the 32nd minute Milan could be next. The Moldovan international carefully kept his eye on a superb curling cross from Yossi Abuksis, who impressed throughout, before hammering a superb low volley past the dive of Milan goalkeeper Christian Abbiati.
Milan will be no pushovers next week in the San Siro, however, a ground where city rivals Internazionale FC let a one-goal lead slip against Valencia CF. Arguably the tie of the round, pitting the leaders of the Spanish Primera División against the joint top side in Serie A against each other, as well as seeing Inter coach Héctor Cúper face his former charges for the first time, the game lived up to its billing - particularly in the second half.
Kily González dismissed
Inter took the lead in the 51st minute, defender Marco Materazzi heading home a Clarence Seedorf corner, and they would have been confident of holding on to that advantage when Kily González saw red minutes later following a tangle with Mohamed Kallon. But Valencia, showing the sort of skill and steel that saw them reach successive UEFA Champions League finals, replied through Francisco Rufete in the 64th minute.
Feyenoord hold aces
The all-Netherlands affair between PSV Eindhoven and Feyenoord also ended 1-1. The outcome will not surprise followers of the Dutch Eredivisie as their previous two contests this season also both ended in draws. The goals came in a hectic spell either side of the interval with Feyenoord striking first through a Pierre van Hooijdonk volley.
The travelling support’s joy was short-lived, however, as the home side levelled proceedings just two minutes after the restart. The lively Mateja Kezman burst on to Mark van Bommel's long through-ball and tucked the ball comfortably into the Feyenoord net. Visiting coach Bert van Marwicjk felt his side deserved to win, saying: "We made it almost impossible for PSV to play and I really had the feeling we would win 2-1. We definitely deserved more than a draw."
Defences held firm
Another team with giant-killing aspirations, FC Slovan Liberec, played with considerable vigour against a BV Borussia Dortmund side featuring two Czech players, Tomáš Rosicky and Jan Koller, but both defences held firm in a 0-0 stalemate in AC Sparta Praha's Letná stadium.
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