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English Premiership

Liverpool, Chelsea into quarters

PARIS, March 11 – Liverpool and Chelsea underlined the strength of the English Premiership on Tuesday, booking Champions League quarter-final berths after sending Real Madrid and Juventus packing.

LIVERPOOL_FANSLiverpool went through in a canter, throughbreds Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres both on target – the England skipper netting a brace on his 100th European appearance – while Andrea Dossena added the coup de grace as nine-times champions Real were humbled 4-0 at Anfield.

The Merseysiders, five times winners, were wrapping up a 5-0 aggregate win following their opening gambit of a 1-0 win at the Bernabeu.

Torres, revelling as a former Atletico star in tormenting his old rivals from the other side of the Spanish capital, bagged the opener on 16 minutes and from then on the hosts toyed with a poor Real side on the latter’s first visit to Anfield.

Gerrard then netted from the spot and added a fine half-volley for good measure after the restart before Dossena bagged a late fourth.

"The first 30 minutes we were awesome," said Gerrard, "It was a fantastic team performance," he told ITV television.

Torres was delighted to put one over Real, "Today was a massive game for us. It was very important to play tonight, it doesn’t matter the pain," he said in allusion to his recent injury woes."

Liverpool’s Spanish keeper Jose Reina told Spanish television that "it’s not easy to come to Anfield – the result was not Real Madrid being poor but Liverpool winning deservedly."

Chelsea had to dig a little deeper into their reserves of resilience in drawing 2-2 away to Juve, where Guus Hiddink’s Londoners twice came from behind on the night, having edged the first game 1-0 at Stamford Bridge.

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Michael Essien and Didier Drogba found the target to steady the ship after Vincenzo Jaquinta had opened the scoring for the Italians on 19 minutes, David Trezeguet flipping a perfectly weighted high pass into his stride.

Chelsea roared back and, after Guanluigi Buffon in the Juve goal had somehow clawed a Didier Drogba freekick off the line, Essien bundled in the crucial away goal equaliser on 43 minutes after Buffon had parried a deflected Frank Lampard shot.

In a frantic finale, Juve had Giorgio Chiellini dismissed to leave them a man down and chasing two goals to advance.

No sooner had the Londoners gained a numerical advantage than substitute Julien Belletti handled an Alessandro Del Piero freekick and Del Piero himself rolled a nonchalant penalty past Petr Cech.

However, Belletti made amends in style eight minutes from the end in taking a pass from Michael Ballack and threading the ball in for the lurking Drogba to fire home from close range.

The loss meant Juve manager Claudio Ranieri’s bid to pull one over on his former club was thwarted.

Holders Manchester United and Arsenal can push the English Premiership contingent in the last eight to four on Wednesday if they complete the job against Jose Mourinho’s Inter Milan and AS Roma.
United drew 0-0 in their first leg in Italy and the Gunners hold a 1-0 advantage ahead of their Rome challenge.

In Tuesday’s other encounters, Bayern Munich humiliated Sporting Lisbon by winning 7-1 in Bavaria for a 12-1 aggregate triumph – the first time a side has netted a round dozen over two legs as the Germans bettered Lyon’s old mark of 10-2 against Werder Bremen in the 2004/05 season.

Germany striker Lukas Podolski struck twice as the hosts more than made up for the absence of Luca Toni and Franck Ribery, who had both netted twice in Portugal.

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"We wanted to show from the first second who was the boss," said delighted Bayern coach Jurgen Klinsmann.

In Tuesday’s other match Spain’s Villarreal edged out Greek side Panathinaikos 2-1 away to advance 3-2 on aggregate, Argentine midfielder Ariel Ibagaza scoring one goal and then turning provider for Joseba Llorente’s winner for the "yellow submarine."

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