Sat, Nov 25, 2006 - Page 18 News List

British quartet make UEFA Cup last 32

KNOCKOUT ROUNDS AHEAD Newcastle came from behind to defeat Celta Vigo and Tottenham topped Bayer Leverkusen, while Blackburn and Rangers advanced on draws

AFP , PARIS

Newcastle United's Antoine Sibierski, center, scores with a header against Celta Vigo's goalkeeper Esteban, right, during their UEFA Cup match at St James Park in Newcastle upon Tyne, England, on Thursday.

PHOTO: EPA

Newcastle, Tottenham, Blackburn and Glasgow Rangers all reached the last 32 of the UEFA Cup on Thursday, but French giants Paris Saint Germain saw their season hit a new low after a 4-2 defeat by Hapoel Tel-Aviv.

At St James' Park, Stephen Taylor headed an 86th-minute winner as Newcastle came from behind to beat Celta Vigo 2-1 and secure their progress to the knockout rounds.

But the win did little to lighten the mood on Tyneside with the stadium barely half-full, an indication of fans' frustrations with their team's woeful Premiership form.

Ernesto Canobbio gave Celta an eight-minute lead, but Antoine Sibierksi leveled with his third European goal of the season in the 36th minute.

Newcastle grabbed the winner when Albert Luque's left-wing corner fell for Taylor to head past goalkeeper Estean Suarez to settle the Group H clash.

Tottenham booked their place in the last 32 with a 1-0 Group B win over Bayer Leverkusen in Germany. All eyes were on the returning Dimitar Berbatov, who joined Tottenham from Leverkusen in May for ?10.9 million (US$21 million), and the Bulgarian international duly delivered, scoring the winning goal against his old employer.

It was a third successive European win for Tottenham -- following victories over Besiktas and FC Bruges -- and the English side wrapped up qualification with one game to spare.

Mark Hughes's Blackburn are also safely through after a 0-0 draw at Feyenoord in Group E.

The result left Blackburn side heading Group E on seven points, four points clear of second-placed Nancy who they host in their final group game next month.

"I'm delighted with the performance -- it was a good professional European performance tonight," Hughessaid. "It's a difficult place to come, they are a vociferous crowd and decent opposition but I thought we controlled the game for long periods."

"We dictated the first 30 minutes, possibly let them back in it for 10-15 minutes either side of the break, but I always felt we were in control of the game and could have scored on numerous occasions," he added. "In the second half they came out and tried to force the issue but we shut them out and could have nicked it at the end," he said.

Hughes is now hoping for his side's impressive European form to spill over to the Premiership where they have not won since Oct. 1.

Rangers, keen not to be outdone by Celtic's progress to the last 16 of the Champions League, kept their season alive with a 2-2 draw at Auxerre in Group A.

Striker Kris Boyd proved the hero for the Glasgow giants with a late equalizer after Daniel Niculae's 76th minute strike had cancelled out Nacho Novo's leveller to an early goal from Ireneusz Jelen.

"It's a good result, especially as we're qualified from tonight. I'm happy, the players battled throughout," said Rangers coach Paul Le Guen. "We're playing better and better, but we still have to work on our finishing. When you have four or five chances in a match you can't afford to miss them."

Le Guen's French compatriot Guy Lacombe, the embattled coach of PSG, was left fighting for his job after the 4-2 defeat to Israeli side Hapoel sent them to the foot of Group G with just a point from two games.

Salim Toama gave Hapoel a 2-0 lead inside the first six minutes before Pierre-Alain Frau and Pauleta pulled PSG level.

Walid Badir restored Hapoel's one-goal advantage on the stroke of half-time before Elyaniv Barda fired home the fourth just before the hour.

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