Resting on a knife edge

Several UEFA Champions League second qualifying round ties are hanging in the balance tonight.

Poor record
Wisla Kraków won 8-2 at FC WIT Georgia - setting up a likely tie against Real Madrid CF - but just two other games ended in victories by more than a single goal. Club Brugge KV triumphed 2-0 at home to Bulgarian champions PFC Lokomotiv Plovdiv, and FC Shakhtar Donetsk won 3-1 at FC Pyunik in Armenia. However, Pyunik coach Vardan Minasyan insisted: "We can surprise Shakhtar. There is nothing to lose."

Crvena Zvezda hope
With 15 first-leg minutes remaining against BSC Young Boys, 1990/91 European champions FK Crvena Zvezda were 2-0 behind and down to ten men. However, two late strikes from Nikola Žigic dragged them back into contention for a tie against PSV Eindhoven. "The Swiss are mentally strong opponents with quality players," said Crvena Zvezda coach Ljubo Petrovic. "It is true we have the advantage, but we have to be very careful to tip the tie in our favour."

'Stupid mistakes'
Crvena Zvezda midfield player Dragan Stancic is suspended, while Young Boys defender Ivan Knez is doubtful with back spasms. Young Boys coach Hans-Peter Zaugg said: "We made stupid mistakes and missed a great chance. If we can reduce those mistakes to almost zero we still have a good chance."

Level ties
AC Sparta Praha also staged a late comeback last week to draw 2-2 with Cypriot title-holders APOEL FC, and there are four other ties level going into the returns, including Trabzonspor's pairing with Skonto FC. Trabzonspor coach Ziya Dogan, whose side drew 1-1 in Latvia, said: "Our players know their responsibilities. This match has a historic meaning for us. But a place in the third qualifying round is not guaranteed. We have to be very careful."

Starkovs defiant
Volkan Bekiroglu and Erdinç Yavuz will again be absent for Trabzonspor but Skonto have Oreastas Buitkus and Aleksejs Višnakovs available. "Skonto are not used to giving up and we are not going to do so this time either," said coach Aleksandrs Starkovs. FC Dynamo Kyiv await the winners.

Goalless draws
The first-leg games between PFC Neftchi and PFC CSKA Moskva, HJK Helsinki and Maccabi Tel-Aviv FC, and Djurgårdens IF and Lithuania's FBK Kaunas all ended goalless, but HNK Hajduk Split beat Shelbourne FC 3-2 in Croatia.

Crucial strike
Alan Moore, who scored late on for the Irish champions in Split, said: "Hajduk were sitting comfortably at 3-1 so our second goal gave us a lift. It gives us a chance for this game." Shelbourne are waiting on the fitness of midfield player Wesley Hoolahan.

Slender leads
FC Dinamo Bucuresti and FC København both hold one-goal advantages ahead of their home legs against MŠK Žilina and NK Gorica respectively. Dinamo, 1-0 up against Gorica, will meet Manchester United FC if they win, while 2003/04 runners-up AS Monaco FC are the opponents for FCK or Žilina.

FCK depleted
FCK, who lead the Slovakian side
2-1, are without Tobias Linderoth and Magne Hoseth who did not sign in time to register for this round. Sibusiso Zuma and Christian Traoré both have thigh injuries and miss out, but Janne Saarinen returns at left-back. FCK president Flemming Østergaard said: "We still have this task to overcome before we can give any thought to Monaco."

Ferencváros ahead
Rosenborg BK defend a 2-1 advantage against FC Sheriff in Moldova, while two last-gasp goals last week gave Ferencvárosi TC a 3-2 success at KF Tirana, with the return in Hungary completing tonight's fixtures.

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