Euro giants Barcelona, Juventus cruise to Champions League
Euro giants Barcelona and Juventus cruised into the Champions League on Tuesday by eliminating, as expected, minnows Wisla Cracow and Artmedia Bratislava in the third qualifying round, dpa reported.
The 2006 champions Barca lost 1- 0 in Cracow but go through on a comfortable 4-1 aggregate, having thrashed the Poles 4- 0 in the Camp Nou two weeks ago.
Barca coach Josep Guardiola put out his best team but there was little tension in the game, with Wisla obviously unconvinced that they could turn the tie around.
A dull first half in Cracow saw few chances.
The only goal came seven minutes into the second half.
Barca keeper Victor Valdes did well to push wide a low shot from Marek Zienczuk. The resultant corner was headed in by unmarked Brazilian defender Guedes Cleber.
The goal cheered up the Polish crowd, but a miracle was never on the cards and Barca had good chances to level at the end.
"It was not an easy game," said Barca captain Carles Puyol, "but we were never really in danger of being eliminated."
Juventus, for their part, drew 1- 1 in Bratislava, which puts them through on a convincing 5-1 aggregate result.
The same as Barca, Juve won the home leg 4-0 two weeks ago, effectively settling the tie then and there.
In Bratislava, Branislav Fodrek gave Artmedia the lead after just 14 minutes. But Brazilian striker Amauri equalized for Juve just 11 minutes later - and the tie really was dead and buried.
"It was an important goal," said Amauri, "because they were in the lead and their fans were getting behind them ... My goal took the tension out of the situation."
A third Brazilian to score on Tuesday was Rodrigo Souza of Panathinaikos, who beat Sparta Prague 1- 0 in Athens.
The Greeks now return to the Champions in style, on a 3-1 aggregate, having won 2- 1 in Prague two weeks ago.
Souza struck right at the end of a dull game, to the delight of a crowd which had been bored by the hosts' cautious style.
Panathinaikos had seemed content with a goalless draw - which would have put them through because of the Prague win - but Souza was determined to send the fans home with something to celebrate.
On Wednesday night the other 13 third round second leg games will be played.