British trio's chance

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The Independent Online
The trio of British survivors in Europe's lesser club competitions missed out on the more glamorous names on offer in Geneva yesterday, receiving instead assignments against middle-ranking opponents with equal potential for progress and embarrassment.

Both representatives in the Uefa Cup drew clubs who won their national titles, Newcastle being paired with Ferencvaros of Budapest, and Aberdeen tackling Brondby of Copenhagen. Liverpool, eliminated by the Danes at the same stage last year, now meet Switzerland's Sion in the Cup-Winners' Cup.

Newcastle have arguably the easiest of the ties. Hungary were in demand in the build-up to Euro 96 as fodder for teams like England who needed a big, morale-boosting win, while Ferencvaros suffered heavy reverses against Ajax and Real Madrid in last season's Champions' League.

Having beaten off the domestic challenge of BVSC-Dreher, whose subsequent defeat by Barry provided a revealing snapshot of Hungarian standards, Ferencvaros lost to IFK Gothenburg in the qualifying round for this season's Champions' League.

Liverpool, bidding to become the fifth club to win all three Continental competitions, will encounter four of Switzerland's squad in England this summer. Peter Robinson, the Anfield club's chief executive, said: "The one thing we won't do is underestimate Sion. When we drew Brondby last season, most people thought we'd win, and we did not."

Brondby, like Ferencvaros, had hoped to be involved in something more lucrative this autumn. Trailing 2-1 to Widzew Lodz from the Polish leg of their Champions' League qualifier, they led 3-0 before being pulled back to 3-2 in the last minute and losing on away goals. However, their 7-0 aggregate success against Aarau suggests Aberdeen will need to defend better than against Barry, with whom they drew 3-3 in midweek.

The Cup-Winners' Cup also threw up a collision of two European champions of the '90s: Barcelona and Red Star Belgrade. The Serbs' resurgence continued with a 4-0 rout of Kaiserslautern on Thursday.

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