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Aug 23, 2011

Big guns go through

German giants Bayern Munich and Spanish side Villarreal both successfully negotiated their Champions League play-offs to secure a place in the lucrative group stages of European football's flagship tournament.

• Champions League Gallery Photo Gallery

Italy striker Giuseppe Rossi scored a second-half brace and Carlos Marchena netted late on as Villarreal secured a 3-0 victory over Odense (3-1 agg) at El Madrigal. Both teams finished the match with ten men after the Danes had Bashkim Kadrii dismissed in the 71st minute and the hosts lost Borja Valero, following a Zindine Zidane-style headbutt, five minutes later.

Germany striker Mario Gomez finished off a flowing Bayern Munich counter-attack after just seven minutes at the Letzigrund Stadium to give his side a 1-0 win against FC Zurich. Gomez limped off at half-time and had to be replaced by Nils Petersen but Bayern had done all the hard work in the first leg in Munich and held on to secure a 3-0 aggregate victory.

Wisla Krakow took a one goal lead to Apoel Nicosia and had the chance to become the first Polish side to reach the Champions League since Lodz in 1996, but lost a closely-fought match 3-1 in Cyprus (3-2 agg).

Krakow keeper Sergei Pareiko fumbled a Gustavo Manduca corner into his own net to hand the hosts the advantage after 26 minutes and Apeol forward Ailton Jose Almeida doubled the lead in the second-half. Cezary Wilk struck back for Krakow, who were denied the chance to go through on away goals when Ailton struck once again with four minutes to go.

Ten-man Dinamo Zagreb lost 2-0 in Malmo but scraped through with a 4-3 aggregate victory. Croatian midfielder Sime Vrsaljko was sent off for violent conduct after 50 minutes before Wilton Figueiredo and Pontus Jansson scored for the Swedish hosts.

Genk beat Maccabi Haifa 2-1 in normal time to force the game into extra-time (3-3 agg) and penalties. Genk goalkeeper Laszlo Koteles then emerged as the hero, saving two spot kicks as the Belgian side edged into the group stage.

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