Liverpool handed British derby

Holders Liverpool FC face Wales's Total Network Solutions FC in the UEFA Champions League first qualifying round.

Special dispensation
The draw came less than a month after Liverpool were crowned European champions by beating AC Milan on penalties after a 3-3 draw in Istanbul. The English side were given special dispensation to enter the competition at this stage, despite finishing fifth in the English Premiership last season.

Second step
Should they progress against the Welsh champions in next month's two-legged tie, Liverpool will play either HB Tórshavn of the Faroe Islands or FBK Kaunas of Lithuania in the second qualifying round, the draw for which was also made today.

'Couldn't be better'
Liverpool chief executive Rick Parry said he was "pleased" to be taking on TNS "because it's not too far to travel". He added: "It couldn't be better in that respect - we didn't want to be travelling to the far reaches of Europe or the borders of Asia, so we've ended up quite lucky with this one.

'Doing our homework'
"Again, logistically, it could be worse for the second qualifying round," Parry continued. "We're doing our homework at the moment, the teams are unknown quantities to us at the minute."

'Absolutely fantastic'
Meanwhile, TNS general manager Ian Williams was understandably delighted with the draw, saying: "We gave a huge cheer when our name came out. It'll raise the profile of the club internationally and nationally, and obviously financially it's going to reward us as well. When our name came out it was absolutely fantastic.

'Chance of winning'
"Having Liverpool is the glamour of the Champions League - from a profile point of view, it gives us massive publicity not just for our club but for Welsh football in general. There's always a chance of winning - it's two games, 180 minutes, and the nature of the game is that either side can win."

Lithuanians dreaming
Romualdas Kontrimas, executive director of Lithuanian champions Kaunas, had one eye on a Liverpool victory to complement a win for his club against HB Tórshavn, when he said: "A club of such stature has never travelled to Lithuania before. But in the first round we face a familiar opponent in HB, who we played in 2003 at the same stage and won 5-1 against."

Intrigue ahead
Another intriguing tie at the second-round stage is FC Dynamo Kyiv of Ukraine against Switzerland's FC Thun. There is also the prospect of Glentoran FC of Northern Ireland meeting their counterparts Shelbourne FC from the Republic in the previous round.

Final hurdle 
The first qualifying round takes place over two legs on 12/13 and 19/20 July, with the second qualifying round following on 26/27 July and 2/3 August. The draw for the third qualifying round will be made at 12.00CET in Nyon on 29 July. The final is set for 17 May 2006 at the Stade de France, Paris.

UEFA Champions League first qualifying round draw
Team drawn first will play at home in first leg

First-leg matches: 12/13 July 2005
Second-leg matches: 19/20 July 2005
1Liverpool FC (ENG) v Total Network Solutions FC (WAL)
2FC Haka (FIN) v FC Pyunik (ARM)
3HB Tórshavn (FAR) v FBK Kaunas (LIT)
4FC Levadia Tallinn (EST) v FC Dinamo Tbilisi (GEO)
5NK Gorica (SLO) v KF Tirana (ALB)
6FC Kairat Almaty (KAZ) v FC Artmedia Bratislava (SVK)
7PFC Neftchi (AZE) v FH Hafnarfjördur (ISL)
8FK Rabotnicki (MKD) v Skonto FC (LAT)
9Glentoran FC (NIR) v Shelbourne FC (IRL)
10FC Dinamo Minsk (BLR) v Anorthosis Famagusta FC (CYP)
11Sliema Wanderers FC (MLT) v FC Sheriff (MDA)
12F91 Dudelange (LUX) v NK Zrinjski (BIH)

UEFA Champions League second qualifying round draw
First-leg matches: 26/27 July 2005
Second-leg matches: 2/3 August 2005
Winner match 3 v Winner match 1
Winner match 4 v Brøndby IF (DEN)
FK Partizan (SCG) v Winner match 11
Debreceni VSC (HUN) v HNK Hajduk Split (CRO)
Winner match 6 v Celtic FC (SCO)
Winner match 5 v PFC CSKA Sofia (BUL)
RSC Anderlecht (BEL) v Winner match 7
Vålerenga IF (NOR) v Winner match 2
Winner match 8 v FC Lokomotiv Moskva (RUS)
Winner match 12 v SK Rapid Wien (AUT)
FC Dynamo Kyiv (UKR) v FC Thun (SUI)
Malmö FF (SWE) v Maccabi Haifa FC (ISR)
Winner match 9 v FC Steaua Bucuresti (ROU)
Winner match 10 v Trabzonspor (TUR)

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