Nancy qualify but win soured by crowd disturbances

November 30, 2006

LONDON, Nov 30 (Reuters) - France's AS Nancy reached the last 32 of the UEFA Cup on Thursday but their celebrations were soured by crowd disturbances on a dark night for Dutch soccer.

The Ligue 1 side were leading 3-0 at home to former winners Feyenoord when their Group E match was halted 12 minutes from time after tear gas drifted on to the pitch at the Marcel Picot stadium and affected players and officials.

After a 30-minute delay, and with only the Dutch side's supporters remaining in the stadium, the match resumed without further scoring.

Feyenoord financial director Onno Jacobs blamed ticket-less Dutch fans for causing the trouble.

'The problems were caused by a group of fans that travelled to France without tickets or tickets bought in France and not by the group of 1200 fans, who bought tickets from us,' he told RTL7-TV.

'The group of unorganised fans caused problems this afternoon in the centre of Nancy and instead of being arrested they were driven together in a section of stadium and broke out during the match.'

Ajax Amsterdam also slumped 2-0 at home to Espanyol, a victory which sent the Spaniards through to the knockout stage and left the former European champions needing a draw from their final Group F game at Belgium's Zulte-Waregem in two weeks' time to guarantee qualification.

Ajax's defeat also secured Zulte a place in the knockout rounds. Greek side Panathinaikos were the other side on Thursday to make the last 32 after drawing 0-0 at home to Rapid Bucharest in Group G.

Nancy, in their first European season since their only previous campaign in 1978-79, proved far too strong for Feyenoord, who last won the trophy in 2002.

Defender Sebastian Puygrenier guided in Pascal Berenguer's shot from the edge of the box to give the Ligue 1 side the lead on 23 minutes and the advantage was doubled just before halftime when Michael Chretien's inswinging corner was bundled over his own line by Andre Bahia.

Feyenoord defender Royston Drenthe was sent off on the hour after a second yellow and five minutes later Monsef Zerka made it 3-0 from the penalty spot.

Uruguay forward Walter Pandiani set Espanyol on their way to victory over Ajax, registering his sixth goal in the competition this season. Ferran Corominas made sure of the points 12 minutes from time.

Celta Vigo notched up their first win in Group H, Uruguayan midfielder Fabian Canobbio securing a 1-0 victory over Fenerbahce with a well struck free kick 13 minutes from time.

Celta keeper Esteban had saved Brazilian Alex's 12th-minute penalty. Group leaders Newcastle, already through to the last 32, drew 0-0 at Eintracht Frankfurt.