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Friday, Aug. 28, 2009

Gunners stay on hot streak

LONDON (AP) Arsenal beat Celtic 3-1 on Wednesday night to reach the group stage of the Champions League along with APOEL of Cyprus and Fiorentina

News photo
High-wire act: Arsenal's Niklas Bendtner goes airborne during Champions League playoff round action against Celtic at Emirates Stadium on Wednesday night. Arsenal won 3-1 and advanced 5-1 on aggregate. AP PHOTO

The Gunners were already ahead 2-0 in their playoff after last week's first leg in Glasgow. They completed the 5-1 aggregate victory behind goals from Eduardo Da Silva, Emmanuel Eboue and substitute Andrei Arshavin.

APOEL defeated Copenhagen 3-1 to give Cyprus a team in the group stage for a second straight year. Fiorentina rallied to a 1-1 tie with Sporting Lisbon to clinch its place on away goals.

Olympiakos and Stuttgart also advanced and will be in Thursday's 32-team draw in Monte Carlo beside the likes of Manchester United, Real Madrid and defending champion Barcelona. Celtic, like the other playoff losers, will drop into the second-tier Europa League.

Celtic's already slim chances of reaching the group stage got even slimmer in the 28th minute when Arsenal striker Eduardo scored on a penalty kick.

Eduardo burst into the penalty area and appeared to have pushed the ball out of play when he tumbled to the ground near goalkeeper Artur Boruc. Boruc slid and seemed not to touch Eduardo but the referee awarded the kick.

The ease of the win meant that Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger was able to remove Abou Diaby, Eboue and Eduardo in the second half to rest them for Saturday's Premier League game with Manchester United.

Anorthosis Famagusta made Cyprus' debut in the Champions League last season and APOEL emulated it with three first-half goals.

Copenhagen led 1-0 after the first match but APOEL surged into a 2-0 lead. Although Dame N'Doye got a goal back for Copenhagen, Chrysostomos Michail hit his second goal of the match to make it 3-2 on aggregate.

Fiorentina looked to be heading out of the tournament, trailing 1-0 to visiting Sporting Lisbon. But Stevan Jovetic made it 1-1 in the 54th to tie it 3-3 on aggregate — enough to advance the Italian team on its two away goals from the first leg.

Greece's Olympiakos advanced 3-0 on total goals after a 1-0 win over the visiting Moldovan team Sheriff. A 0-0 draw meant that Stuttgart advanced 2-0 over Timisoara of Romania.

In England's League Cup, Wigan was knocked out with a 4-1 second-round loss at Blackpool. Blackpool, in the second-tier League Championship, bolted to a 3-0 halftime lead over its Premier League opponent.

Four-time League Cup winner Tottenham began its attempt to reach a third straight final with a 5-1 win at Doncaster, while Newcastle won 4-3 to also reach the third round.

The Premier League's Stoke won 1-0 at Leyton Orient after extra time. West Bromwich Albion needed extra time to beat Rotherham 4-3, Carlisle won 2-0 at Bristol City and Cardiff downed Bristol Rovers 3-1.

The winners will be joined by those Premier League clubs excused from a second-round match because they are also participating in European competition.

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