Big guns through on emotional night
© AFP

Following the tragic death of Sevilla FC's Antonio Puerta on Tuesday, football took a back seat during the return-leg matches of the UEFA Champions League third qualifying round. On the pitch, Glasgow Rangers, Liverpool and Lazio all secured themselves a berth in the group stage, while away from the action the decision was made to postpone Sevilla's tie with AEK Athens until 3 September.

The script seemed to have been written for a major upset in Bucharest, however, after Dinamo earned themselves an excellent 1-1 draw away to Lazio in the first leg. And the situation began to look even more dire for the surprisingly lethargic Laziali when Florin Bratu's 27th-minute strike gave the hosts the lead at half-time. But, with their hopes slipping away, the Italians staged a fierce second-half comeback. They were on level terms just a minute after the restart, in fact, as Tommaso Rocchi converted from the spot following Valentin Nastase's foul on Simone Del Nero. The inspired Rocchi then set up Goran Pandev for Lazio's second on 54 minutes before his team-mate returned the favour to make it 3-1 with 66 minutes gone.

Last season's beaten finalists Liverpool encountered considerably less trouble, on the other hand, strolling into the group stage despite the absence of Steven Gerrard and various other key players.

Having already registered a 1-0 win in Toulouse, the Reds gave their opponents little chance at Anfield and not only bossed the midfield tussle but also seemed to win all the tackles. The irrepressible Peter Crouch made that domination count with the night's first goal after 19 minutes, and Sami Hyypia put the outcome beyond doubt when he headed in Yossi Benayoun's corner five minutes after the break. Then it was Dirk Kuyt's turn to show what he could do, the tireless Dutchman adding his team's third with four minutes remaining and notching their fourth in stoppage time following good service from Benayoun.

Lastly, Glasgow Rangers did well to pick up a goalless draw in Belgrade, profiting from Red Star Belgrade's wastefulness in front of goal. That result, combined with the Scottish outfit's 1-0 success two weeks ago, was enough to send them through at the expense of the 1991 European Cup winners.

The third qualifying round continues on Wednesday with the 11 remaining ties reaching a conclusion. The draw for the group stage takes place in Monaco on Thursday.