Champions League: Irish Eyes are Smiling


Shamrock Rovers have created history by becoming the first Irish side to reach the UEFA Champions League Group Stage after a 1-1 draw in Bucharest that saw them progress past Romanian champions Steaua 4-1 on aggregate.

Three-up from the First Leg last week, Bryan Hodge stunned the 27,000 capacity crowd with by finishing a fine breakaway move after early pressure from the hosts, to put the League of Ireland side 4-0 up on aggregate, with a valuable away goal should the hosts hit back. Changing shape shortly afterwards, they held out bravely until the 88th minute when Razvan Balla headed home a mere consolation for Steaua.

Albanian striker Hamdi Salihi scored a hat-trick to help BSC Young Boys on their way to a 4-0 win in Hungary at Györi ETO, progressing 5-1 over the two legs after a 1-1 draw in Switzerland last week.

Ajax pulled of a shock 2-0 win at the Mestalla, with a pair of stunning Siem de Jong free-kicks giving them a 2-0 win over Valencia, but the Spanish side progressed 4-3 on aggregate after they won convincingly in Amsterdam in the First Leg six days ago.

After trailing 1-2 from the first leg in Germany, Belgian runners-up Standard Liege had it turned-round inside the opening ten minutes against Bayer Leverkusen through goals from Luis Seijas and Ariel Nahuelpan, before Simon Rolfes restored parity for the visitors. Nahuelpan scored his second mid-way through the second-half to seal the tie 4-3 on aggregate.

Last but by no means least, Zenit St. Petersburg won 3-0 in the Ukraine at Shakhtar Donetsk with goals from Victor Faizulin, Axel Witsel, and Alexandr Kerzhakov to ensure that the highest-ranked side on the night comfortably progressed.


 HUN         Györi ETO  0-4  BSC Young Boys     SUI  (1-5 agg.)
 ROU  Steaua Bucharest  1-1  Shamrock Rovers    IRL  (1-4 agg.)
 SCO             Celtic  v   Maccabi Tel-Aviv   ISR  (Wed, 2-0)
 CRO      Dinamo Zagreb  v   Viktoria Plzen     CZE  (Wed, 1-1)
 NOR          Viking FK  v   Legia Warsaw       POL  (Wed, 0-2)


 UKR  Shakhtar Donetsk  0-3  Zenit SP           RUS  (1-4 agg.)
 BEL    Standard Liege  3-1  Bayer Leverkusen   GER  (4-3 agg.)
 ESP          Valencia  0-2  Ajax               NED  (4-3 agg.)
 ITA           AS Roma   v   Tottenham Hotspur  ENG  (Wed, 0-3)
 POR             Porto   v   AS Monaco          FRA  (Wed, 0-1)