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Big guns edge past minnows

Category:[world] [Sports/Olympics] [Soccer]
Newcastle, Hertha Berlin and Marseille reached the first round of the UEFA Cup but in far from convincing fashion against unfavoured opponents. Auxerre are also in the hat for Friday's 80-team draw.

Newcastle had a frustrating night in which they failed to make their dominance pay against Ventspils.

The goalless draw saw them past the Latvian side 1-0 on aggregate, making academic their inability to convert pressure into goals.

James Milner and new signing Damien Duff created chance after chance from the flanks, however with no natural striker in Glenn Roeder's starting eleven, Ventspils goalkeeper Andris Vanins was rarely tested.

Milner came closest to breaking the deadlock, having a goal disallowed for offside on 73 minutes then smacking a free-kick against the underside of the bar with nine minutes remaining.

Hertha Berlin struggled to a 2-2 draw with Georgian minnows Ameri Tbilisi, giving them a 3-2 aggregate victory.

The hosts took a shock lead in the 18th minute when a corner hit big defender Giorgi Dawitnidse on the knee and the ball rolled into the net.

That levelled the tie at 1-1 on aggregate but the Bundesliga outfit were even on the night ten minutes before the break when Srdjan Lakic netted.

Ameri, in their first European campaign, restored their advantage two minutes after the interval when Hertha again failed to deal with a corner allowing Suliko Dawitaschwili to tap in from close range.

But as they pushed men forward in a bid for the winning goal, Marko Pantelic sealed Hertha's progress as he jabbed home a cross from six yards with seven minutes remaining.

Marseille were also held to a goalless draw at the Stade Velodrome by Young Boys Bern but progressed on away goals courtesy of their 3-3 draw in Switzerland.

However Mario Raimondi almost knocked out l'OM when he headed Hakan Yakin's free-kick against the crossbar in injury time.

Ljubo Milicevic also missed a good chance in the second-half and Jose Delfim almost struck a dagger blow to his old club but his effort was narrowly wide.

Auxerre needed a late hat-trick from Luigi Pieroni to seal their place in the first round. The French side were heading out on away goals before the Belgian struck three times in the last eight minutes and secured a 5-1 result on the night, 5-2 on aggregate.

Elsewhere, last season's Champions League side Artmedia completed a 5-3 aggregate win against Dinamo Minsk, while 2006 quarter-finalists Rapid Bucharest overturned a 1-0 first-leg deficit against FK Sarajevo to win 2-1 over two matches.

Swiss side FC Basel lost their away leg 2-1 against Vaduz, but squeaked past the tiny Liechtenstein side on away goals.



Big guns edge past minnows(Over)
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