Champion Valencia beat Steaua; Parma struggles

Associated Press

London, February 17:

Valencia took another big step toward holding on to its UEFA Cup title with a 2-0 victory over Steaua Bucharest on Wednesday, while Brazilian stars made their mark on the competition, two of them scoring for opposing teams.

Goals either side of halftime by Italian forward Marco Di Vaio and Argentina’s Pablo Aimar earned Valencia a first-leg lead over the Romanians with the second leg to come next week.

Joint top scorer in the Portuguese league, Brazilian striker Liedson scored Sporting Lisbon’s winner in a 2-1 victory over Feyenoord, which had taken a sixth-minute lead through Bart Goor. Meanwhile, Brazilian defender Andrade Maxwell scored in the first half to help four-time European Cup winner Ajax Amsterdam edge Auxerre 1-0 at home and take a slender lead to France in the return Thursday of next week.

An equalizer by Brandao four minutes from the end salvaged a 1-1 draw for Ukraine’s Shakhtar Donetsk against Schalke 04 after fellow Brazilian Ailton put the German club ahead.

Dnipro twice rallied from a goal down to draw 2-2 at Partizan Belgrade in its second round, first-leg match. Italy’s chances of winning the competition rest with Parma, which was held 0-0 at home by VfB Stuttgart. Panathinaikos needed a goal by Loukas Vyntra 15 minutes from the end to edge Seville 1-0 and will have a tough job defending that lead in Spain.

Italian Cup:

MILAN: Inter Milan beat struggling Atalanta 3-0 and advanced to the Italian Cup semi-finals. Uruguayan striker Alvaro Recoba, Turkish midfielder Emre Belozoglu, and Argentine forward Julio Ricardo Cruz scored for Inter, which advanced on 4-0 aggregate. Inter will face either Cagliari or Sampdoria in the two-leg semi-finals, scheduled for April 20 and May 11.

Copa del Rey:

Madrid: Striker Fernando Torres scored a 66th-minute penalty to earn Atletico Madrid a 1-0 victory over Numancia and a place in the Copa del Rey semi-finals. Atletico, which is bidding to lift its first Copa del Rey since it won the double in 1996, took the quarter-final 1-0 on aggregate as the teams played to a goalless draw in first leg two weeks ago. Atletico joined Athletic Bilbao, Real Betis and Osasuna, which all secured a berth in the last four of Spain’s knockout competition two weeks ago.