CATANIA, ITALY - MAY 13: Fans of Udinese during the Serie A between Catania Calcio and Udinese Calcio at Stadio Angelo Massimino on May 13, 2012 in Catania, Italy. (Photo by Maurizio Lagana/Getty Images)

UEFA Champions League: Malaga Win; Udinese And Anderlecht Grab Away Goals

Udinese and Anderlecht weren't terrific on Wednesday, but did enough to stay in their ties. Malaga and BATE both won 2-0 at home and are heavy favorites to progress.

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BATE Borisov Vs. Hapoel Kiryat Shmona, 2012 UEFA Champions League: Final Score, BATE Wins 2-0

BATE Borisov appear to be on their way back to the UEFA Champions League group stage. Their hopes of a return trip to the competition looked to be dashed in the last round when they drew 1-1 at home against Debrecen with some of their stars gone for the Olympics, but they recovered in the return leg. With Renan Bressan and their other Olympic players back, they defeated Hapoel Kiryat Shmona 2-0 at home on Wednesday.

Vitaly Rodionov was BATE's star with two excellent goals. He opened the scoring in the 29th minute with a fantastic finish, taking a great first touch, turning Shir Tzedek and hitting a low finish after Dimitri Mozolevski set him up with pass into his feet. He netted his team's second goal in the 78th minute following a red card by Hapoel Kiryat's Dusan Matovic, running onto a through ball by Alexander Volodko and finishing comfortably to seal BATE's win.


Malaga Vs. Panathinaikos, 2012 UEFA Champions League: Final Score 2-0 To Troubled Qatari Tycoon Playthings

Maybe Sheikh Abdullah should have just paid Santi Cazorla and Jose Solomon Rondon's wages out of pocket? Malaga are just about into the group stages of the UEFA Champions League after pulling off a 2-0 home win over Panathinaikos. Their defense is shaky enough that they might let in 12 goals when they make the trip to Greece, but they're in an excellent position after they prevented an away goal at La Rosaleda.

Martin Demichelis -- who might actually play Champions League football again, which is so, so wrong -- scored the opening goal. He nodded in an easy finish following a deflection on a set piece in the 17th minute. Later in the first half, Eliseu finished off an impressive team passing move with an impressive thunderbolt of a finish in the 34th minute.

Panathinaikos have lost some of their top attackers in recent years, and it showed on Wednesday. Their attack looked rather anemic against a very mediocre Malaga defense.


AEL Vs. Anderlecht, 2012 UEFA Champions League: Final Score, Cypriots Get 2-1 Victory in First Leg

Belgian side Anderlecht got an away goal, but still have some work to do in the second leg of the Champions League playoff after falling 2-1 to Cypriot champion AEL Limassol. It was a physical match, with seven yellow cards and one red card that set things up nicely for the return leg next week.

AEL scored first midway through the first half thanks to Junior but also managed to pile up some yellow cards thanks to their overly aggressive play. Despite offering up several free kick opportunities to Anderlecht as the half progressed, AEL's defense was able to stand strong and take the lead in to the locker room.

Despite the best effort of the Cypriots to hold on to the clean sheet, Anderlecht were simply too good not to get a precious away goal. After receiving the ball at the top of the box, Dieumerci Mbokani cleverly chipped the ball up and around a defender and beat goalkeeper Matias Degra with a quickly volley shot inside the far post.

AEL struck back though, taking a 2-1 lead thanks to a hard shot from distance by Rui Miguel that goalkeeper Silvio Proto got two hands on, but deflected off the post and in to the net.

Things then proceeded to get worse for Anderlecht. Less than a minute after being subbed off the pitch, forward Milan Jovanovic managed to rase a ruckus on the bench, kicking water bottles around, and received a second yellow card and sending off from the match referee. Jovanovic had been subbed because of an early yellow card for time wasting in order to protect him for the second leg. Anderlecht's goalkeeper Silvio Proto raced across the pitch to yell at his teammate as he walked down the tunnel. The only positive is since he was already subbed out, Anderlecht didn't go a man down.

Anderlecht will need need at least a goal at home next week to advance to the group stages.


SC Braga Vs. Udinese, 2012 Champions League: Final Score 1-1, Italians With The Crucial Away Goal

Udinese failed to make it out of the Champions League playoffs last season, and many believed they'd have the same problem this time around. After all, once again the zebrette sold off some of their best players, including Kwadwo Asamoah, Mauricio Isla and Samir Handanovic. The replacements were no one to write home about, or so most observers thought. But Udinese has a way of finding talent, and today they proved they have a chance of making it to the Group Stage, earning a 1-1 draw with Sporting Braga and coming away with a crucial away goal.

But the Portuguese side, who made it through to the first knockout round of the Europa League last season, aren't likely to go down without a fight next week in Udine. The home side dominated for the first thirty minutes, but after Udinese scored, couldn't find a way back into the match until the hour mark, when Rúben Micael came on for Helder Barbosa. After finding the equaliser, Braga bossed the match, but Udinese were able to close them down and keep the match 1-1.

The opening goal, from the visitors, came against the run of play. Just a few minutes before, Douglão stepped over the ball, allowing it to continue to Paulo Vinícius, whose shot forced Zeljko Brkic into a stunning save. On the other end, his compatriot, Dusan Basta, executed his own acrobatics, rising up between two Braga defenders to head in a free kick from Antonio Di Natale.

In the first part of the second half, Braga did well to keep themselves in the match. In the 61st minute, Beto managed a fantastic double save, stopping first Roberto Pereyra and then Toto to keep the home side within one. Minutes later, Ismaily sent in the equaliser, slotting into the opposite corner past an outstretched Brkic.

Udinese were content to let the score stand at 1-1. The Italian side failed to push for another goal, instead bringing on defensive reinforcements. We'll see if Francesco Guidolin's caution pays off in six days time.

Sporting Braga: Beto; Leandro Salino, Douglao, Paulo Vinicius, Ismaily; Custodio, Hugo Viana; Alan (Ruben Amorim 85), Mossoro (José Luís 87), Helder Barbosa (Rúben Micael 58); Lima

Udinese: Zeljko Brkic; Mehdi Benatia, Danilo, Maurizio Domizzi; Dušan Basta, Giampiero Pinzi, Willians, Roberto Pereyra (Emmanuel Agyemang-Badu 72), Pablo Armero (Giovanni Pasquale 85); Diego Fabbrini (Maicosuel 72); Antonio Di Natale


FC Basel Vs. CFR Cluj, 2012 UEFA Champions League: Final Score, Cluj Win 2-1 After Comeback

FC Basel look unlikely to make a repeat run to the knockout stages of the UEFA Champions League. They made some key sales over the summer and it showed, as they were outclassed in the second half of their first leg playoff match against CFR Cluj. The home side went up early, but Cluj stormed back to claim a 2-1 road victory.

Marco Streller scored the opening goal on an absolutely brilliant volley just before the end of the first half. Basel had numerous chances to score in the first half that they failed to take, but eventually captured the lead in the 44th minute. Streller finished off the chance on a corner kick, hitting an impressive side volley from 10 yards.

The second half belonged to Moudou Sougou, who tore the Basel defense to pieces. His equalizer came in the 65th minute with a composed finish after he ran onto a through ball, and the winner came just five minutes later on a vicious shot into the roof of the net. Cluj now heads home as heavy favorites to progress.


Borussia Mönchengladbach Vs. Dynamo Kiev, 2012 UEFA Champions League: Final Score 3-1 Dynamo, Gladbach Crashing Out

The sales of Marco Reus, Roman Neustädter and Dante appear to have caught up with Borussia Mönchengladbach. They purchased replacements, but Dante's absence created the most obvious glaring hole. Gladbach's defense was poor and they fell apart in a 3-1 loss to Dynamo Kiev.

Gladbach actually got off to a brilliant start, with on-loan winger Alexander Ring scoring the opening goal in the 13th minute. Things went south quickly, however, and Dynamo eventually took over the match. Taras Mikhalik equalized in the 28th minute, striking a half volley past Marc-Andre ter Stegen following a corner kick. It took a wicked deflection on the way in, and ter Stegen couldn't adjust.

Andriy Yarmolenko scored what would eventually be the winner in the 36th minute and all of the air was let out of Borussia-Park when his finish hit the net. Gladbach couldn't up their game in the second half and eventually gave away another away goal, on a Luuk de Jong away goal in the 81st minute. A two-goal home loss will almost certainly prove insurmountable for Lucien Favre's side.


Helsingborg Vs. Celtic, 2012 UEFA Champions League: Final Score 2-0 To The Hoops

Celtic look like they're heading through to the group stage of the UEFA Champions League following their impressive 2-0 away victory against Helsingborg on Tuesday. Helsingborg had only allowed one goal in their four previous qualifying matches and had won those games by an aggregate score of 9-1.

Kris Commons put Celtic up in the second minute with a fantastic finish. Georgios Samaras set up the chance with a floated cross to the back post and Commons positioned himself perfectly for a volley that bounced off the turf, then past Par Hansson at the back post.

Celtic did not play well during most of the first half and were bailed out on multiple occasions by goalkeeper Fraser Forster. He was arguably the man of the match, and his three big saves in the first 30 minutes of the game kept his team in the game while they were playing poorly. Helsingborg could have very easily been up 3-1 by halftime if it wasn't for Forster's play.

Samaras sealed the win for Celtic in the 75th minute, nodding in a corner kick from Scott Brown. They head home to Glasgow with two away goals, and their lead should be an insurmountable one for Helsingborg.


FC Copenhagen Vs. Lille, 2012 UEFA Champions League: Copenhagen Take 1-0 Advantage to France

Copenhagen got their Champions League playoff tie against Lille off to a good start with a 1-0 win at home tonight. Cesar Santin's goal late in the first half was enough as Copenhagen's defense held off Lille's attack and Johan Wiland saved a penalty.

The first half was an interesting one highlighted by a missed PK and dreadful bit of defending that allowed the Løvernes to grabbed a 1-0 lead right before the break. Former Chelsea player Soloman Kalou earned a penalty for Lille in the 15th minute thanks to a takedown by Bryan Oviedo. Instead of grabbing a crucial away goal, Johan Wiland saved Dimitrie Payet's PK attempt. Late in the half, Copenhagen's captain Lars Jacobson made a straight run up the right side of the pitch, as if waiting for a Lille defender to close down the space, yet none did. He finally got close enough and placed a perfect cross in to the box that was easily headed for the goal by Cesar Santin was standing completely unmarked between two Lille defenders.

Despite Lille's best efforts to break down the Copenhagen defense in the second half, it wasn't to be. Copenhagen will take a 1-0 advantage on the road to the Grand Stade Lille Métropole next week. It's a solid result for the Løvernes but their work is hardly done holding on a one goal advantage. Should be an interesting second leg.


Spartak Moscow Vs. Fenerbahce, 2012 UEFA Champions League: Final Score 2-1 To Hosts

Spartak Moscow are taking a lead into the second leg of their UEFA Champions League playoff round tie, but they will only be slight favorites to advance. Even though they put in a very solid performance and grabbed a stellar winner late in the second half, they allowed Fenerbahce to score an away goal. Spartak's 2-1 victory on Tuesday should set up a thrilling second leg in Istanbul.

The first half was extremely dull, but it didn't take long for things to get interesting in the second half. Spartak grabbed the opener after 59 minutes on a great quick move, with striker Emmanuel Emenike providing the finish. The goal was made by Dimitriy Kombarov, who provided a great assist with a perfect diagonal into the center of the box that went around the Fener defense, then curled back into Emenike's foot for an easy finish.

Fener answered six minutes later through Dirk Kuyt, who scored the vital away goal off of a nodded on ball by Moussa Sow. Though the away goal is still a vital one, the visitors' joy at getting back into the match was short lived. Kombarov netted the winning goal off of a corner kick in the 69th minute, placing an impressive volley past Mert Günok at his near post.

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