Liverpool and Inter post wins

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> Defending European champion Liverpool and two-time winner Inter Milan posted comfortable wins in the first leg of final Champions League.

Updated: February 25, 2007 10:53 IST
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Defending European champion Liverpool and two-time winner Inter Milan posted comfortable wins in the first leg of final Champions League qualifying but four-time victor Ajax drew 2-2 away at Danish club Brondby. Liverpool won 3-1 at Bulgarian club CSKA Sofia yesterday in a match marred by sections of the crowd making monkey noises at goal scorer Djibril Cisse, who is black. Inter, champion in 1964 and '65 beat Shakhtar Donetsk 2-0 in Ukraine. The second-leg games are in two weeks with the winners advancing to the lucrative group stage. German champion Werder Bremen had a surprise 2-1 loss at Swiss club Basel. In other results, it was Anderlecht 2, Slavia Prague 1; Malmo FF 0, FC Thun 1; Artmedia Bratislava 0, Partizan Belgrade 0; Rapid Vienna 1, Lokomotiv Moscow 1 and Steaua Bucharest 1, Rosenborg 1 and Sporting Lisbon 0, Udinese 1. Liverpool defends title European soccer's governing body, UEFA, allowed Liverpool the chance to defend its title even though it failed to qualify through its Premier League placing. However, Liverpool had to enter the first round of qualifying. Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard set up all three goals for his club in Sofia, Bulgaria. "We're happy with the scoreline," Gerrard said. "We'd be a lot more happier with the clean sheet but to come away 3-1 makes the job a lot easier when we go back to Anfield." Gerrard set up the first goal for Djibril Cisse in the 25th minute. Five minutes later, he delivered the free kick that Fernando Morientes headed home. CSKA Sofia scored a minute before halftime, with Velizar Dimitrov heading in a left-wing cross from Mourad Hidiouad. Morientes added Liverpool's third in the 58th. Eleven minutes later, Gerrard was replaced by Mohamed Sissoko, ending his European scoring run. Gerrard had scored seven goals in Liverpool's four Champions League qualifying games this season, including a hat trick against Welsh club TNS. He also scored in the Champions League final last season which earned Liverpool its fifth European title. UEFA delegate Trygve Borno is expected to note the incidents of racial abuse directed at Cisse. "Always it is a pity to hear such things, but the UEFA official has heard and it has gone in his report," Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez said. Obafemi Martins and Adriano scored for Inter Milan against Shakhtar Donetsk. "It wasn't a simple game," Inter coach Roberto Mancini said. "We suffered in the first half, but we got better as the game went on." Inter's next leg at the San Siro will be the first of four European matches it has to play in an empty stadium. It was handed the punishment after April's Champions League quarterfinal against AC Milan was abandoned because a flare thrown from the crowd hit Milan goalkeeper Dida. Brondby tie with Ajax In Copenhagen, Denmark, Martin Retov's last-minute equaliser gave Brondby a deserved 2-2 tie against Ajax. Markus Rosenberg scored for Ajax in the 31st minute, but the lead only lasted three minutes until Morten Skoubo scored the equaliser. Ryan Babel put Ajax in the lead in the 73rd minute before Retov secured the draw. In Basel, Switzerland, David Degen scored off a rebound to give Basel a 2-1 win over Bremen. Basel scored through Julio Hernan Rossi in the 27th minute before Miroslav Klose scored through a rebounded free kick in the 73rd. In Brussels, Belgium, Anderlecht's Bart Goor scored one goal and set up Mbo Mpenza for the other to secure the Belgian side a first leg 2-1 win against Slavia Prague. Lukas Jarolin scored for Slavia. In Vienna, Austria, ten-man Lokomotiv Moscow earned a 1-1 draw with Rapid Vienna. Alexander Samedov gave Lokomotiv the lead from a counter-attack after ten minutes. After 75 minutes, Moscow's Amougou Bikey was sent off for a second yellow card and soon after, Josef Valachovic levelled the scores. Sporting Lisbon defeated In Lisbon, Portugal, Vincenzo Iaquinta converted a penalty for Udinese to beat Sporting Lisbon, last season's defeated UEFA Cup finalist. The match was the first Champions League match in Udinese's 109-year history. On Tuesday, Manchester United beat Hungarian champion Debrecen 3-1 at Old Trafford with Wayne Rooney, Ruud van Nistelrooy and Cristiano Ronaldo scoring. The three sons of Malcolm Glazer, Joel, Avi and Bryan, were at Old Trafford for United's first competitive game under the American's ownership. (AP)

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