The second batch of Play-Off first leg matches in the vital shootout to see who will line up in the UEFA Champions League 2011/12 group stages took place on the evening of Wednesday 17th August 2011.
Bayern Munich and Dinamo Zagreb lead the way, both collecting solid wins and carrying a healthy advantage through to the second leg from a night when every one of the five matches was won by the team with home advantage.
There were home wins for Maccabi Haifa, Odense BK and Wisla Kracow, too, on a night which displayed just why the “away goals” rules are in existence.
Bayern Munich 2-0 FC Zurich
Elder Statesmen of Europe they might be, but Bayern find themselves in a play-off to reach the UEFA Champions League group stage this season, and began their two-legged efforts to overcome Swiss side FC Zurich with a solid 2-0 win at Fußball Arena München, in Munich, Germany.
Bastien Schweinsteiger showed just why Bayern have been so keen to keep hold of their German international midfielder, when he scored after just 8 minutes to help the home side settle into the match, but it wasn’t until Arjen Robben added a second in the 72nd minute that the score became a more comfortable two goal lead.
Bayern held their clean sheet to the end ensuring that a similar performance, plus a goal, should be more than enough to see them through the return leg and claim the group stage slot they must surely feel somewhat entitled to.
In truth, the margin of Bayern’s victory could have been far more, for Zurich were entirely outclassed for much of the match, having just 39% of the possession, and being restricted to just three shots – none of which were on target – in the duration.
Bayern are clear favourites to progress, and look to be strong enough – once more – to go deep into the tournament proper when they do, after yet another dominant European display.
Dinamo Zagreb 4-1 Malmo
Dinamo Zagreb all but assured themselves of a place in the hat for the UEFA Champions League group stages by picking up a 4-1 home win in the opening leg of their two-legged play-off with Malmo, played in Stadion Maksimir, Zagreb, Croatia.
In a dominant display, Zagreb will be most annoyed that their Swedish visitors were able to score an away goal despite only producing one effort on goal in the 90 minutes of this first leg match.
Dinamo got off to a great start, however, when Sammir put them in front after just 4 minutes, but were soon pegged back when Malmo picked up a goal from their first effort, when Mehmeti bagged a 17th minute equaliser.
The scores remained 1-1 at half time, despite Zagreb looking ever dangerous.
In the second half, though, as Malmo’s resistance began to falter, Zagreb picked up the three goal advantage that their 25 to 1 shot count warranted, as Rukavina (56), Sammir (PEN 60) and Bećiraj (84) gave them what looks to be an unassailable lead to take to Sweden.
Maccabi Haifa 2-1 Genk
Maccabi Haifa grabbed an important home victory over Genk at Ramat Gan Stadium, despite their visitors matching them in almost every department, and producing three times more shots on target than the hosts.
The home team raced away to a 2-0 half time lead after an 8th minute Amasha finish was added to in the 28th minute by Dvalishvili.
In the second half, Genk looked keen to get the away goal they needed after such a bad start to this play-off. They were rewarded on 61 minutes when Barda got them back into the match, and this two-legged play-off.
It was then a question of strong resistance from Haifa, as Genk finished strongly, constantly probing for another away goal.
In all, Genk hit the target 10 times to Haifa’s 3, but it is goals that count, in football, not shots, and Haifa won this one 2-1 after retaining the ball well. With better shooting, they could, in truth, have added another goal, so this is a tie which is still firmly in the balance next week.
Odense BK 1-0 Villarreal
Spanish club Villareal will be most disappointed with the result they picked up at Odense Stadion, Odense, in Denmark. Despite dominating for much of this match, they were caught out in the 84th minute and fell to a 1-0 first leg away defeat.
Villareal will be even more upset that they failed to pick up an away goal despite peppering the home side with 17 shots – 8 of which were on target – during a match in which they controlled possession.
Instead it was Andreasen who proved to be the home hero, when he bagged an 84th minute goal to which the Spanish aces had no reply.
Villareal, with home advantage in the second leg, and only one goal to claw back, must remain favourites to progress after such a dominant losing display in defeat here, though Odense must not be discounted: if they can get an away goal in the second leg, they’ll make life very tricky indeed for Villareal, who would then require three goals to progress.
Expect fireworks in Spain.
Wisla Krakow 1-0 Apoel Nicosia
Polish club, Wisła Kraków, will be most pleased with the result of their efforts at home to Greek outfit Apoel Nicosia, as they kept a clean sheet en route to a solid 1-0 win following a display in which they showed the superior cutting edge.
A 71st minute goal from Maleki was enough to split the two sides in a somewhat cagey affair, which saw only four shots hit the target from either side.
In an otherwise even encounter, Krakow produced slightly more end product, and were rewarded with the game’s only goal.
Any repeat of this form from either side will ensure that the fight for the UEFA Champions League place will go right to the wire in this two-legged tie: it will come down to just who gets the breaks in front of goal.
UEFA Champions League 2011/12 Results – Play-Off Round, Wednesday 17 August 2011
- Bayern Munich 2-0 FC Zurich
- Dinamo Zagreb 4-1 Malmo
- Maccabi Haifa 2-1 Genk
- Odense BK 1-0 Villarreal
- Wisla Krakow 1-0 Apoel Nicosia
The second leg of the above UEFA Champions League 2011/12 play-off matches is scheduled to take place on the evening of Tuesday 23 August 2011.