Lyon, Zurich close in on Champions League group stage

August 20th, 2009 - 5:03 am ICT by IANS  

Hamburg, Aug 20 (DPA) Lyon as good as confirmed their place in the group stage of the Champions League as they thrashed Anderlecht 5-1 in the first leg of the playoffs.
FC Zurich won 3-0 at Ventspils, and Atletico Madrid, Debrecen and Maccabi Haifa are also well-placed after away wins.

In France, Miralem Pjanic put Lyon ahead with a ninth-minute free-kick, and Lisandro Lopez added a second from the penalty spot six minutes later.

Two goals in quick succession from Fernandes Michel Batsos and Beftimbi Gomis just before half-time all but finished the tie.

Matias Suarez pulled one back after 58 minutes, but Gomis soon restored the four-goal margin.

Zurich can be confident of progressing after a 3-0 win over Ventspils in Latvia.

Johan Vonlanthen put the Swiss champions ahead after 12 minutes, with further goals from Silvan Aegerter and Dusan Djuric putting them in an almost unassailable position.

Atletico Madrid beat Panthinaikos 3-2 in Athens, a victory created around the River Plate estuary.

The Argentinian Maxi Rodriguez put Atletico ahead and, though Dimitris Salpingidis levelled, second-half goals from the Uruguayan Diego Forlan and Sergio Aguero, another Argentinian, made it 3-1.

Yet another Argentinian, Sebastian Leto, gave Panathinaikos some hope as he struck for the home side with 16 minutes remaining.

Debrecen of Hungary are just one step from a first appearance in the group stage, Peter Czvitkovics’s 76th-minute winner giving them a 2-1 win over Bulgarian champions Levski Sofia. Laszlo Bodnar had given them the lead, only for Cedric Bardon to level.

Maccabi Haifa beat Salzburg 2-1 in the night’s other game.

Alexander Zickler cancelled out Mohammed Ghadir’s opener, but Shlomi Arbeitman restored the Israel champions’ advantage with six minutes remaining.

The second legs of Wednesday’s games will be played Tuesday.

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