ZURICH - Champions League final hosts
Bayern Munich's worries about missing out on the competition
were largely allayed on Wednesday when Arjen Robben inspired
them to a 2-0 win at home to FC Zurich in the first leg of their
Robben set up the first goal for Bastian Schweinsteiger and
curled in the second himself as last season's Swiss Super League
runners-up did little to suggest they could trouble the
Bavarians in next week's return.
Odense produced a shock 1-0 win at home to Spaniards
Villarreal when Hans Henrik Andreasen scored following an awful
defensive blunder with six minutes left.
Wisla Krakow, who like the Danish side are hoping to play in
the Champions League for the first time, beat Cypriots APOEL by
the same score.
Brazilian playmaker Sammir scored twice to help Croatian
champions Dinamo Zagreb to a 4-1 win at home to former European
Cup finalists Malmo and Maccabi Haifa beat Genk 2-1.
Bayern have only missed out on the Champions League once in
the last 14 seasons and their worst nightmare would be failing
to qualify in a season when the final takes place at the Allianz
Their first-leg victory would appear to be an ample
advantage against Zurich whose Letzigrund stadium, with a small
capacity and running track around the pitch, is one of Europe's
less intimidating venues.
The Swiss took only one point from three home games when
they played in the Champions League two years ago.
Zurich's best chance in Munich came after five minutes when
Ricardo Rodriguez's long cross found Amine Chermiti and his
header flew over.
After that, it was all Bayern and they went ahead three
minutes later when Robben broke to the byline and found an
unmarked Schweinsteiger who headed in from close-range.
Bayern created plenty of chances with Zurich keeper Johnny
Leoni producing a superb double save to deny Franck Ribery and
Philipp Lahm early in the second half before the Frenchman hit
the post with a free-kick.
Mario Gomez, Bundesliga top scorer with 28 goals last
season, contrived to fire wide from six metres before Robben
curled the second over Leoni in the 72nd minute.
"It was a good result for us and puts us in a good position
for the return match," said Bayern goalkeeper Manuel Neuer, who
did not have a save to make.
"I'm always happy when the defence does its job."
Villarreal had the better of the match against Odense but
the hosts were gifted the winner when Andreasen pounced on a
loose back-pass by Colombian debutant Cristian Zapata to fire a
rasping drive into the net.
Dinamo, Croatian champions for the last six seasons,
dominated their tie and Sammir, who joined the club five years
ago as a teenager, fired them ahead in the fourth minute against
Malmo with a clinical finish from 10 metres.
Dinamo missed a hatful of chances in the first half, either
side of Agon Mehmeti's equaliser against the run of play.
Ante Rukavina restored Dinamo's lead early in the second
half, Sammir won and converted a penalty on the hour and then
produced a dazzling solo run which ended with substitute Fatos
Beciraj volleying home from 15 metres near the end.
Patryk Malecki scored the only goal for Wisla, who have
reached the final round of the qualifiers for the seventh time
having lost on all six previous occasions.
Maccabi Haifa's Weaam Amasha, who scored a hat-trick against
Borac in the second qualifying round, gave them an early lead
against Genk and Vladimir Dvalishvili added the second just
before the half-hour mark.
However, the complexion of the tie changed when Elyaniv
Barda replied for the Belgians in the 61st minute.
The second legs will be played next Tuesday and Wednesday
with the aggregate winners of the 10 play-off ties going into the
lucrative Champions League group stage.
Stoke City and manager Tony Pulis part company by mutual agreement after seven years
Andy Carroll pulls out of England's friendly internationals against Ireland and Brazil
Manchester City and the New York Yankees have formed a new Major League Soccer team
Real Madrid president under scrutiny after latest coaching project ends in disarray
Ten years on, the legends speak to FFT
Your questions answered by an A to Z of legends
He's here, he's there, he's...
The cost of Premier League away travel
Nike CR7 IX for you
FourFourTwo is brought to you by Haymarket Consumer Media & FourFourTwo is part of Haymarket Sport
| International Licensing | © Haymarket Media Group 2010