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August 27, 2009

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Lyon, Atletico reach lucrative Champions League group phase

LISANDRO Lopez's first-half hat trick in a 3-1 victory at Anderlecht sent Olympique Lyon into the Champions League group stage with an 8-2 aggregate triumph on Tuesday while Atletico Madrid beat Panathinaikos 2-0 to stroll into the next round.

Debrecen, FC Zurich and Maccabi Haifa also made it to today's draw for the lucrative group phase where they run into Europe's powerhouse clubs, including defending champion Barcelona.

Hungary's Debrecen beat Levski Sofia 2-0 to advance 4-1 overall, Zurich scored beat Moldova's Ventspils 2-1 to go through 5-1, and Maccabi outplayed Salzburg 3-0 to reach the group phase 5-1.

Already 3-2 up from the away leg in Athens, Atletico controlled the return in Madrid but was gifted the first goal after only three minutes.

The Panathinaikos defenders failed to deal with a cross from Johnny Heitinga and the ball dropped to striker Diego Forlan. His sideways pass struck Loukas Vyntra and deflected into his own net.

After Panathinaikos striker Djibril Cisse was sent off in the 70th, Sergio Aguero added the second for Atletico in the 82nd after a run past two defenders, and completed a 5-2 overall triumph.

Lisandro scored three times in 15 minutes from the 26th in Brussels to maintain Lyon's dominance of Anderlecht. Already 1-8 down on aggregate, the Belgian side replied through a 51st-minute penalty by Mathias Suarez.

Up 2-1 from the away leg in Sofia, Bulgaria, Debrecen made it easily to the next phase with goals by Jozsef Varga in the 13th and Gergely Rudolf in the 35th. It becomes the first Hungarian side since Ferencvaros in 1995 to reach the group stage.

Leading 3-0 from the first leg in Moldova, Zurich went further in front through Johan Vonlanthen in the sixth only for Igor Tigirlas to reply in the eighth. Almen Abdi scored in injury time to make it two wins for the Swiss side.


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