x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Franky Vercauteren's old club Genk reach Champions League group stage

Al Jazira coach's former club join Bayern Munich, Villarreal and Malmo into Thursday's draw after beating Maccabi Haifa 4-1 on penalties.

Giuseppe Rossi, right, shoots and scores to put Villarreal on their way to the Champions League group stages at the expense of Danish side Odense.
Giuseppe Rossi, right, shoots and scores to put Villarreal on their way to the Champions League group stages at the expense of Danish side Odense.

PARIS // Bayern Munich and Villarreal cruise to the Champions League group stages last night, while Racing Genk, the former club of Al Jazira manager Franky Vercauteren, add their name to Thursday's draw after winning on penalties.

Belgian side Genk and the Israeli outfit Maccabi Haifa's clash went all the way to penalties — the match having finished 3-3 on aggregate — with Genk prevailing 4-1.

Jelle Vossen had given Genk a 35th-minute lead and, although Eyal Golasa equalised just two minutes later, Thomas Buffel put the hosts back in front four minutes before the break to make it all square overall.

Maccabi had Itzhak Cohen sent off in the second period of extra time but there were no further goals in the additional 30 minutes, prompting a shoot-out.

Vossen, David Hubert, Daniel Tozser and Daniel Pudil all scored from the spot for Genk while Vladimir Dvalishvili and Golasa saw their kicks saved by Laszlo Koteles.

Bayern — making a rare appearance at this stage of the competition after finishing third in the league last season — beat FC Zurich 1-0 away thanks to a Mario Gomez first-half strike to win 3-0 on aggregate.

Villarreal — who could be forgiven for lacking match sharpness after the first round of Primera Liga matches were called-off last weekend because of a players strike — trounced Danish league runners-up Odense 3-0, to win 3-1 on aggregate.

Villarreal's highly-rated striker Giuseppe Rossi grabbed a brace to ensure the Yellow Submarine's place in the group stages for the third time in what was an ill-tempered match that saw a player from each side sent off.

Malmo nearly pulled-off a remarkable win, in what appeared to be a dead rubber after losing the first leg 4-1, going 2-0 up four minutes from time against Dinamo Zagreb but they could not find the goal that would have seen them progress on the away goal rule.

The losers at least have the consolation of going into the Europa League group stage draw.

Gomez's goal ensured Bayern will go into Thursday's draw as one of the ten play-off winners who join the 22 automatic entrants.

"We have fulfilled our duty to reach the main draw, there is no one particular opponent we want to face - we have to beat everyone," said striker Nils Petersen, who came on for the injured Gomez in the second-half.

Bayern, whose Allianz Arena will stage the final on May 19 next year, join fellow German sides Borussia Dortmund and Bayer Leverkusen in the main draw.

Munich had few problems in Zurich as the hosts rarely troubled the goalkeeper Manuel Neuer while Munich barely got out of second gear.

"It was important for us to get an early goal, so that we had a commanding 3-0 lead," said Bayern coach Jupp Heynckes.

"After that the tension wasn't so great in the team.

"It was very important for Bayern Munich to be in the group stages."

Rossi showed why he is one of Europe's most-coveted strikers with a second-half double to set Villarreal on their way to victory.

The Spanish side must have been beginning to wonder where a goal was going to come from as Stefan Wessels saved everything that came his way until five minutes into the second half, when Rossi stabbed home a low Nilmar cross.

That goal cancelled out Hans-Henrik Andreasen's strike which had given Odense the narrowest of first-leg leads.

The spectators at the El Madrigal was on its feet again midway through the second half when a wonderful cross from deep on the right flank from Cani was met by Rossi, leaving Wessels with no chance.

Odense knew that an away goal would still swing the tie back in their favour, but their hopes were dealt a huge blow when Bashkim Kadrii was sent off for a second bookable offence.

Numerical parity was restored when Scottish referee Craig Thomson showed a red card to Borja Valero for a retaliatory butt on Andreas Johansson, but Villarreal put the outcome of the tie beyond doubt when substitute Carlos Marchena's shot was fumbled over the line by Wessels.

Tonight's matches features a crucial match for under-pressure Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger as his depleted side - shorn of the recently-sold Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri and with young England star Jack Wilshere injured - take a 1-0 lead to Italy where they face Udinese.

In the second-round of English League Cup, the Premier League quartet of Sunderland, Norwich City, Queens Park Rangers and Swansea City were all bundled out last night.

Sunderland, beaten by Norwich in the 1985 final at Wembley, went down 1-0 at Championship (second division) side Brighton & Hove Albion.

Craig Mackail-Smith scored the only goal for Gustavo Poyet's team in extra-time.

Norwich, who also won the trophy in 1962, suffered a crushing 4-0 home defeat against League One (third division) MK Dons. Former Manchester United player Luke Chadwick netted twice.

Rangers were beaten 2-0 at home by League One Rochdale while Swansea lost 3-1 at League Two (fourth division) Shrewsbury Town. Norwich, Rangers and Swansea were promoted this season.

It was a better day for the Premier League's West Midland clubs with Aston Villa, Wolverhampton Wanderers and West Bromwich Albion all safely through.