| Rigobert Song of RC Lens celebrates after scoring against FC Porto at Bollaert Stadium in Lens Thursday. (Reuters)
London: Liverpool, Auxerre and Lazio booked their places in the Uefa Cup fourth round on Thursday, but there was no room for struggling Leeds United.
Michael Owen gave Liverpool a second 1-0 win over Vitesse Arnhem in their third round, second leg tie, Auxerre beat Real Betis 2-0, overturning a 1-0 first leg deficit, and Lazio could afford a 1-0 defeat to Sturm Graz in a 3-2 aggregate win.
But Malaga swept into Friday’s draw at the expense of Terry Venables’ Leeds after well taken goals in each half by Dely Valdes gave them a 2-1 victory at Elland Road.
The defeat will pile the pressure on the former England manager after 10 English Premier League defeats have left his team near the relegation zone — to the fury of some Leeds fans.
“We stopped a team playing that can really play for a lot of that game,” Venables said. “We just didn't get the goal we needed.”
Liverpool, who have lost four of their last five Premier League games, got the goal they needed from Owen.
“Even though it wasn’t the prettiest game tonight, when you’ve lost four or five in quick succession, you’ll take anything,” Owen, who moved to within one goal of Ian Rush’s European scoring record (20) for Liverpool, said.
Lazio, fielding a second-string side, went down to an 87th minute strike from Imre Szabics of Graz in a scrappy match played on a muddy pitch.
Auxerre got through after goals from Finnish playmaker Teemu Tainio and skipper Yann Lachuer turned their fortunes around.
“The players did what they had to do, played the game we had to play,” said Auxerre boss Guy Roux. “We scored two nice goals and deserved to win. Today, we were better than them.”
Aside from Auxerre’s success, though, it was another miserable European night for French clubs with champions Olympique Lyon, Lens, Girondins Bordeaux and Paris St Germain all being knocked out.
Lyon’s 100th European match in the club’s history ended in a 1-0 defeat at home to mid-table Turkish side Denizlispor. Mustafa Ozkan volleyed the winner with just five minutes gone after the French club had earned a goalless away draw.
Lyon coach Paul Le Guen said: “It really is a big disappointment, a big blow. We conceded an early goal and spent the rest of the match chasing the game — it was a catastrophic scenario.”
Bordeaux snatched a 2-2 draw at Anderlecht but paid the price for a 0-2 loss in Belgium, while Lens were similarly condemned by their 0-3 first leg defeat to Porto despite a 1-0 win on the night.
PSG went out on the away goals rule after losing 1-0 at Boavista to Elpidio Silva’s second-half penalty, having won 2-1 at the Parc des Princes a fortnight ago. Like Venables, the future of PSG coach Luis Fernandez was already in jeopardy as his team had lost five of their seven outings before Thursday.
The four clubs’ defeats were only the latest setbacks for French football, none of whose teams made it past the first group phase of the Champions League this season.
Like Liverpool and Leeds, other British teams had mixed fortunes, with Celtic going through on the away goals rule after John Hartson’s strike in a 2-1 defeat at Celta Vigo proved enough after a 1-0 victory in Glasgow.
But Hertha Berlin booked their place in the fourth round after ending Fulham’s first foray into Europe with a 0-0 draw in west London after having won 2-1 at home.