Manchester City kept their European challenge rolling here in Belgium last night when Nicolas Anelka secured their passage into the second round of the Uefa Cup by scoring the only goal of the game from the penalty spot after 19 minutes.
City, 3-2 ahead from the first leg, gave a performance that their manager, Kevin Keegan, described as "workmanlike", to wrap up the tie against a side who are low on confidence in the absence of a reliable striker.
Keegan made two changes from the side that lost to Wolves in their last Premiership game. Steve McManaman had recovered from a hamstring injury and returned to the starting line-up, while Trevor Sinclair was also restored to the side with Claudio Reyna and Antoine Sibierski left on the bench.
Lokeren started brightly, but the pattern of the match was established early when City carved out the first chance. Michael Tarnat launched a long ball into the path of Paulo Wanchope and he laid it off to Anelka. However, the Frenchman's shot went over the top. Then Shaun Wright-Phillips stung the hands of the goalkeeper, Sven van der Jeugt, after being released by Anelka.
After a scare when Davy de Beule shot narrowly wide, City took the lead in the 19th minute. Wanchope went over after a challenge by Mamadou Coulibaly and Anelka put away the penalty. The goal sparked off a scuffle in the crowd but police and stewards quickly restored order.
Lokeren played some neat football considering they had gone 17 League games without a win, and they made City look far from comfortable at the back, but as Keegan said: "They took the Belgian League by storm last year but they have lost a striker - if they had someone up front they could be a real handful."
City also looked formidable going forward and threatened when Tarnat picked out Wanchope with another through ball but the chance was wasted. They were in command without their midfielders McManaman and Paul Bosvelt making an impact, but Keegan could afford to keep things as they were while they had a two-goal margin.
Wright-Phillips strode forward in 53rd minute and tested Van der Jeugt with a powerful drive, but then City began to sit on their two-goal lead, which is always a dangerous tactic. They had some respite when Tarnat's corner in the 65th minute caused a moment of panic in the Lokeren defence before the ball was scrambled away.
The home side continued to make a decent fist of it with their Icelandic captain, Arnar Vidarsson, working tirelessly in the middle of the park, but Lokeren lacked snap in front of goal.
City's 4,000 supporters were getting restless and desperate for a second goal to put the game out of Lokeren's reach. Keegan then made his first change in the 78th minute, bringing on Claudio Reyna for the tiring Wanchope.
Lokeren ran out of steam, and Wright-Phillips again almost added a second but Van der Jeugt did well to parry his effort. By that stage, though, City were well on their way to clinching a place in the second round draw tomorrow.
Lokeren: Van der Jeugt; Conte (Van Haeylandt, 76), Katana, Vidarsson, Gretarsson, Kristinsson, De Beule, Coulibali, Doba, Fofana (Baldvinsson, 67), Muzinga. Substitutes not used: Dabanovic, Zanzan, Ekounga, Overmeire,Van Hoey.
Manchester City: Seaman, Sun Jihai, Sommeil, Distin, Tarnat, Wright-Phillips, McManaman, Bosvelt, Sinclair (Barton, 89), Wanchope (Reyna, 78), Anelka. Substitutes not used: Weaver, Wiekens, Berkovic, Sibierski, Fowler.
Referee: D Ledentu (Fr).