AJ Auxerre staged a stirring second-leg comeback in their UEFA Cup third-round tie to defeat Spanish side Real Betis Balompié 2-0 and secure a 2-1 aggregate victory.
Teemu Tainio opened the scoring in the 19th minute and captain Yann Lachuer headed a cross from France international striker Djibril Cissé into the net three minutes after the break to complete a superb recovery in front of a delighted Abbé Deschamps stadium.
Auxerre had the better of the opening exchanges with the visitors resorting to hitting long balls towards striker Alfonso Pérez, who was closely shadowed by highly-rated defender Philippe Mexes. Indeed the hosts nearly took the lead as early as the fourth minute when Betis goalkeeper Antonio Prats spilled Khalilou Fadiga's free-kick into the path of Olivier Kapo, but David Rivas got back in time to block the shot.
On 19 minutes Auxerre got the goal their early enterprise deserved when Lachuer broke down the right flank before jinking past Luis Fernández and crossing into the box. Betis defender Iulian Filipescu headed the ball straight at midfield player Tainio who volleyed into the net from the edge of the area.
Guy Roux's men doubled their lead shortly after the restart as Cissé sent a perfect ball across goal for Lachuer to head past the stranded Prats. It was not all one-way traffic though. Indeed at times Auxerre goalkeeper Fabien Cool kept his side's lead intact almost singlehandedly with a series of saves including a stupendous block from Denilson's close-range 76th-minute effort.
Auxerre hang on
Betis dominated the latter stages of the match, but Auxerre, who qualified for the UEFA Cup after being eliminated from the Champions League first group stage, were more than happy to play on the counterattack. The Spaniards pushed forward at every opportunity, knowing that one goal would see them through and as the game drew to a close, Marcos Assunção hit a shot agonisingly wide of Cool's right-hand post as Auxerre hung on to seal their place in the fourth round.
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