Lyon, Atletico sail through

PARIS: A first-half hat-trick from new Argentinian signing Lisandro crushed Anderlecht’s hopes of qualifying for the Champions League group stages as Lyon showed their last 32 credentials in a 3-1 win in Belgium.

Thanks to their 5-1 victory over the Belgian side at the Gerland stadium last week, giving them an 8-2 aggregate result, Lyon were the most convincing team of the five who qualified for the group stage on Tuesday.

Elsewhere, Maccabi Haifa joined the lucrative stages

of Europe’s premier club competition with a 3-0 win over

FC Salzburg which gave the

Israelis a 5-1 victory over

| the Austrians.

Debrecen secured their ticket in similar fashion, becoming the first Hungarian side to qualify for the group stages since Ferencvaros in 1995 by beating Bulgarian outfit Levski Sofia 2-0 at home for an aggregate of 4-1. Ventspils had been hoping to become the first Latvian side to qualify for the group stages however despite scoring a goal at FC Zurich they were defeated 2-1, for an aggregate score of 5-1.

Atletico Madrid had taken a major stride towards qualification with a 3-2 win away at Panathinaikos last week and confirmed their superiority over the Greeks with a 2-0 win in Madrid which puts them among the last 32 for the second year running.

In the past 10 years Lyon have been regulars in

the group stages, reaching

the quarter-finals in 2006 when they were eliminated

by AC Milan.

Having lost the French league title for the first time in eight seasons in May, to Bordeaux, the French giants

were forced to come through qualifying. But despite

predictions of a close two-leg

fixture against Anderlecht, Claude Puel’s side showed they more than deserve to join Europe’s elite.