Sevilla FC took a significant step towards the last 16 as goals in each half from Christian Poulsen and Frédéric Kanouté gave the UEFA Cup holders a comfortable 2-0 victory away to FC Steaua Bucuresti in this first-leg tie.
The Spanish side went into the game on the back of four goalless draws in their last five outings but offered a potent threat all night at the Steaua Stadium. After bossing much of the first half Poulsen broke the deadlock just before the interval, firing in from close range after the home team failed to clear a Daniel Alves free-kick. Substitute Kanouté then added a second from the penalty spot with 13 minutes remaining to make Sevilla favourites to complete the aggregate triumph in Spain next Thursday.
In truth, Juande Ramos's men could have built an even bigger lead after dominating from the kick-off. Barely a minute had gone when Alves burst into the area and teed up Alfaro, who shot just wide. Brazilian midfielder Adriano Correia, in particular, was making Romanian hearts beat faster as his running caused problems for the Steaua back line, and only the slightest of touches from defender Stelian Stancu directed his effort wide midway through the first period.
Poulsen finally opened the scoring four minutes before half-time, reacting quickest to power in the rebound following Alves's free-kick and although the visitors sat back after the restart, the introduction of Kanouté soon after the hour instilled renewed purpose into their flagging forwards. The move paid off as Aleksandr Kerzakhov was brought down and Kanouté stepped up to notch his first UEFA Cup goal since last year's final against Middlesbrough FC.