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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Aug, 23, 2006

Ajax ousted from Euro Champions League qualifying

Four-time European champion Ajax was ousted from European Champions League qualifying Wednesday, hurt by an own-goal in its 2-0 loss at home to FC Copenhagen.

Ajax had a 2-1 lead entering the second leg of its third-round qualifying game but fell behind when Michael Silberbauer scored in the 59th minute.

That tied the total-goals score, and Copenhagen went ahead when Ajax defender Thomas Vermaelen put the ball in his own net in the 77th minute.

The result sends Copenhagen to the lucrative group stage of the Champions League at the expense of Ajax, which won the European Cup from 1971-73 and in 1995.

Arsenal, which lost to FC Barcelona in last season's final, also advanced to the group stage with a late goal from Fredrik Ljungberg that gave it a 2-1 win over Dinamo Zagreb -- the club's first victory at its new stadium.

The Gunners advanced on a 4-1 aggregate score and reached the group stage for the ninth year in a row.

Lille, Spartak Moscow, Galatasaray, Dynamo Kiev and Steaua Bucharest, CSKA Moscow, Levski Sofia, Shakhtar Donetsk and AEK Athens also advanced to the group stage Wednesday.

They joined former winners AC Milan, Liverpool, Benfica and Hamburg, who advanced on Tuesday, along with Valencia.

In Moscow, Roman Pavlyuchenko scored the winner for Spartak Moscow in a 2-1 victory over 10-man Slovan Liberec. The two teams tied 0-0 in the first leg.

Steaua Bucharest advanced 4-3 on total goals after a 2-1 second-leg win over Belgium's Standard Liege. Valentin Badea scored in the 35th and 51st minutes to send Steaua to the group stage for the first time in 10 years. American defender Oguchi Onyewu started for Liege but came out in the 64th minute.

Lille won 1-0 at Macedonian club Rabotnicki on a Johan Audel goal to advance 4-0 on total goals. Rabatonicki's Dragan Jakolovski was sent off in the 83rd minute for a second yellow card.

Turkish club Galatasaray advanced 6-3 on aggregate after a 1-1 tie at Czech club Mlada Boleslav. Ukraine's Dynamo Kiev went through 5-3 on total goals after a 2-2 tie at Turkish club Fenerbahce.

On Tuesday, six-time titlist Milan advanced past Red Star Belgrade 2-1 and Liverpool eliminated Israel's Maccabi Haifa to stay in search of its sixth crown. Two-time winner Benfica and 1983 champion PSV Hamburg also advanced to the group stage along with two-time runner-up Valencia.

The draw for the group stages, when 32 teams will be placed into eight groups of four, is set for Monte Carlo on Thursday. The final is in Athens on May 23.

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