Thu, Jul 26, 2012 - Page 20 News List

Salzburg, Shakhtar dumped out of Champions League

Reuters, BERNE

Red Bull Salzburg were knocked out of the Champions League qualifiers by Luxemburg’s Dudelange on Tuesday, continuing an astonishing run of failures in the competition since the energy drinks firm took over the Austrian club.

Last season’s double winners, who enjoy substantial financial backing from the energy drinks company, beat visitors Dudelange 4-3 in their second qualifying round, second leg tie, but were eliminated on away goals after losing 1-0 last week.

Red Bull took over the club in 2005 with ambitious plans of making Salzburg Champions League regulars, only to see its team fail five times in a row in the qualifiers.

The only time they have taken part in the group stage was as plain Salzburg in the 1994-1995 season.

Their latest failure is a huge setback for coach Roger Schmidt and sporting director Ralf Rangnick, the former Schalke 04 coach, who took over in the close season.

Salzburg’s troubles in Tuesday’s match began when they lost possession in midfield, allowing Thierry Steinmetz to break clear and score in the 26th minute.

Jakob Jantscher and Martin Hinteregger put Salzburg 2-1 ahead at halftime, only for Aurelien Joachim to level with his sixth goal in four matches.

Steinmetz struck again to make it 3-2, but Dudelange endured a nerve-wracking finale after forward Sofian Benzouien was sent off in the 74th minute.

Salzburg’s Cristiano converted an 81st-minute penalty and fellow substitute Gonzalo Zarate scored a minute later to put the hosts ahead on the night, but the Austrians could not find the fifth goal they needed in the final eight minutes.

Shakhtar Donetsk, who have taken part in the group stage eight times, were knocked out by Czech Republic champions Slovan Liberec, who scored the decisive goal in the last minute of extra-time.

Trailing 1-0 from the first leg, Shakhtar leveled the aggregate score with a Zhambyl Kukeyev penalty five minutes before halftime.

Both sides then had chances, before substitute Jan Blazek scored in the 120th minute to make it 1-1 and send Liberec through 2-1 on aggregate.

Norwegian side Molde, coached by former Manchester United striker Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, went through 4-1 on aggregate after a 1-1 draw with Latvian champions Ventspils and are next scheduled to face Swiss champions Basel, who last season eliminated Solskjaer’s former club United.

Two goals from Cameroon striker Jacques Zoua and one from Chilean midfielder Marcelo Diaz, Switzerland’s most expensive close-season signing, gave Basel a 3-0 win over Estonia’s Flora Tallinn as they completed a 5-0 aggregate victory.

Debrecen, one of only two Hungarian sides to have played in the group stage, beat Albanian champions Skenderbeu 3-0 to qualify 3-1 on aggregate, while Lithuanian champions Ekranas ended the hopes of Ireland’s Shamrock Rovers with a 2-1 win.

Two goals from Nemanja Tomic helped Partizan Belgrade to a 3-1 win over Malta’s Valletta as they went through 7-2.

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