Baks to the fore against Saints

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The Independent Online
Llansantffraid, the team from a tiny Welsh village, were introduced to European football reality yesterday when they were thrashed 5-0 by the Polish Cup winners, Ruch Chorzow.

The League of Wales side had dreamed of creating an upset after a brave 1-1 draw at Wrexham a fortnight ago in the first leg of this Cup-Winners' Cup qualifying round tie, but they let in a goal after just 30 seconds when Arkadiusz Bak scored with a low shot.

The Saints almost equalised when Arwel Jones had a powerful header tipped over by Piotr Lech in the Poles' goal in the 11th minute, but Andy Mulliner was by far the busier goalkeeper. The former Port Vale apprentice made several great saves to keep the deficit down to one goal at half-time, but just after the break a cross from Bogdan Pieniazek was sliced into his own net by Arwel Jones.

The Poles added three more goals - one by Arkadiusz Bak and two by Miroslav Bak - to complete a 6-1 aggregate win, and Llansantffraid were denied a consolation goal 10 minutes from time when Andy Edwards, a milkman, lost his bottle from the penalty spot and had his spot-kick saved by Lech.

Manchester United will learn their European Champions' League opponents today, when the draw for the group stage of the European Cup - plus the draws for the first round of the Cup-Winners' and Uefa Cups - are made in Geneva.

United, one of the top eight seeds, could face home and away games against Rangers, who crushed Alania Vladikavkaz 10-3 on aggregate to reach the Champions' League. The other seeded team in United's group will be either Milan, Juventus, Atletico Madrid or Auxerre - but they cannot be drawn in the same group as Ajax, Borussia Dortmund or Porto.

Apart from Rangers, the teams that have progressed from the qualifying round include Sweden's IFK Gothenburg, who finished ahead of both United and Barcelona in a Champions' League group two seasons ago, and the Turkish side Fenerbahce, who include the former Aston Villa striker Dalian Atkinson among their ranks.

England have been allocated an extra place in next season's Uefa Cup - thanks to their sporting conduct on and off the pitch. England came second to Norway in Uefa's annual Fair Play rankings and will be allowed to enter four club's for next season's competition.

The rankings, based on both international and European club games, saw Norway edge out England by just 0.01 of a point. Norway will also be granted an extra Uefa Cup place, as will Sweden, who were ranked third.