American Exports: Kljestan & Co. into Champions League

Sacha Kljestan with Anderlecht

Photo Credit: 
Courtesy of RSC Anderlecht

AMSTERDAM – Sacha Kljestan and Anderlecht punched their ticket into the group phase of the UEFA Champions League on Tuesday with a patient 2-0 win over Cypriot guests AEL Limassol.

After the Mauves had hit twice in the final 10 minutes to score a 3-2 aggregate win, the US international picked up a stoppage time yellow card. Anderlecht will be in seeding pot No. 3 in Friday's group stage draw, the first time they’ve made it that far since 2006-07.

Meanwhile, Hapoel Ironi Kiryat Shmona were relegated to the Europa League group phase after a damning 1-1 home draw against BATE Borisov played without injured midfielder Bryan Gerzicich. The Israeli champs are in seeding pot No. 4 for that tourney's draw, also to be held on Friday.

Several Americans took part in a heavy Capital One League Cup slate in England, with Jonathan Spector scoring in a losing cause as Birmingham City were bounced from the second round by a 3-2 extra-time defeat at Coventry City.

Shortly after sweeping a Carl Baker shot off his line, the right back started and finished a give-and-go with Morgaro Gomis to level the match for a second time just ahead of the break. Baker later gained revenge by hitting a 97th-minute winner for Coventry.

Elsewhere, Brad Guzan rung up four saves and Eric Lichaj went the distance in defense as Aston Villa moved on by blanking League One visitors Tranmere 3-0. The former Chivas USA backstop was at his best to deny Andy Robinson at point-blank range with 16 minutes remaining.

Fresh Leicester City catch Zak Whitbread made his club debut in the forgettable circumstances of a 4-2 home loss to League Two underdogs Burton Albion.

The center back worked an eventful 90 minutes, which included a corner kick header that narrowly missed near the half-hour and the error that facilitated the away side's second goal just after intermission.

Stevenage winger Robbie Rogers went 63 minutes in a 4-1 home loss to Southampton. The recent loan acquisition drew a good save from the edge of the box in a bid to open the scoring midway through the first half.

Tim Ream was not culpable on either goal as Bolton were rudely dispatched 2-1 at mites Crawley Town. Wanderers led until the 81st minute, only to suffer a shock collapse.

Stoke City midfielder Geoff Cameron drew his first English yellow card as the hosts were stunned 4-3 in overtime by third flight Swindon Town. The former Houston Dynamo man pulled double duty, working the extra sessions as injury cover at right back.

Mike Grella and heavy underdogs Scunthorpe bowed out with a respectable 2-1 loss at Norwich City. The forward was the victim of a good Declan Rudd save on his 65th-minute shot at an equalizer.

Frank Simek went unused as Carlisle punched above their weight by ousting Ipswich Town 2-1.

Finally, in Denmark, Conor O'Brien and SønderjyskE advanced to the third round of the DBU-Pokalen with a 4-1 cruise through second flight Hobro.