By AVI CREDITOR
Sacha Kljestan's UEFA Champions League dream is over before it could even get started.
Kljestan's RSC Anderlecht fell in its Champions League qualifier to Partizan Belgrade in penalties (3-2) Tuesday after dramatically scoring twice midway in the second half to send the tie to extra time.
Romelu Lukaku and Guillaume Gillet scored in the 64th and 72nd minutes, respectively, to offset a brace from Cleo that had given the visitors a 4-2 aggregate lead. The 4-4 scoreline carried through extra time and into penalties, where Anderlecht skied three of its penalty kicks over the bar (with Mbark Boussoufa, pictured above, missing the final one) to miss out on qualifying for the Champions League group stage.
Kljestan, who scored in league play over the weekend, didn't dress for either leg of the qualifying tie.
In the second legs of Tuesday's other Champions League group stage qualifiers:
- Werder Bremen blew its 3-1, first-leg advantage after yielding three consecutive goals but rallied against Sampdoria to advance to the group stage, 5-4 on aggregate. Markus Rosenberg's injury-time equalizer carried the match into extra time, and Claudio Pizarro tallied in the 100th minute to seal Bremen's victory.
- Rodrigo Lima notched a hat trick to lift Sporting Braga to a 5-3 aggregate victory over Sevilla.
- Eran Zahavi's injury-time equalizer carried Hapoel Tel Aviv to a 1-1 draw with FC Salzburg and dramatic a 4-3 aggregate win.
- Alexander Frei scored twice to cap FC Basel's 3-0 win (4-0 aggregate) over Sheriff Tiraspol.
Also happening around the world of soccer:
DEFOE NEEDS GROIN SURGERY
Tottenham could be in the market for a new striker before the transfer window closes with the word that Jermain Defoe will be having groin surgery that could sideline him for a month.
Defoe is still able to play limited minutes and could be available for Tottenham's Champions League match on Wednesday, but he will have the operation next week and will miss out on England's Euro 2012 qualifiers in September.
MACDONALD GIVEN TWO MATCHES
Aston Villa interim manager Kevin MacDonald has been given two matches to prove himself as the top candidate for the full-time position.
The matches, a UEFA Europa League second-leg qualifier against Rapid Vienna and a Premier League tilt with Everton, will seemingly determine whether Villa's ownership will look for a different replacement for the departed Martin O'Neill.
AQUILANI LOANED TO JUVENTUS
Catastrophic Liverpool signing Alberto Aquilani has been loaned to Juventus for the remainder of the season with the option for the Serie A club to buy him outright at the end of the 2010-2011 campaign.
An Italian international, Aquilani joined the Reds from Roma last summer for £20 million but failed to make a solid impression at Anfield. He appeared 26 times last season and scored two goals while struggling to fortify his place on the pitch on a consistent basis.
Should Juventus want to buy Aquilani at the end of the season, it would cost £13 million.
LIVERPOOL SHORTHANDED FOR SECOND LEG
Liverpool will be without Fernando Torres, Steven Gerrard, Daniel Agger and Maxi Rodriguez while it tries to fend off Turkish side Trabzonspor in the second leg of its UEFA Europa League qualifying tie.
The Reds earned a 1-0 victory at Anfield in the first leg, but they will be severely shorthanded on the road. Javier Mascherano, rumored to be transferring to Barcelona, is also not included in Roy Hodgson's squad for Thursday's match.
What did you think of Tuesday's Champions League drama? Think England will be OK in Euro 2012 qualifying without Defoe? Do you think that MacDonald should remain Villa's manager? Do you expect Aquilani to find his top form with Juventus? Think Trabzonspor can pull the upset?
Share your thoughts below.