SPORTS

UEFA Cup hopes looking doubtful

Returning to European club-level competition after an 18-year absence, Larissa, competing in the third round of the Intertoto Cup, a prelude to the new season’s UEFA Cup, was held to 0-0 at home on Saturday night by Turkey’s Kayseri. Rough play resulted in seven yellow cards and poor overall game quality. The game was mainly dominated by the visiting Turkish side. Larissa, which ended eighth in last season’s domestic league for its Intertoto Cup berth, must now emerge with a better aggregate score from next Saturday’s return leg in Turkey if the Greek club is to keep alive its hopes for a place in the UEFA Cup’s group competition. But there is some way to go. The Intertoto Cup’s third round of home-and-away knockout competition, in which Larissa finds itself now, leads to the UEFA Cup’s second round of qualifiers. Should Larissa get through, it will join four other Greek clubs, Panathinaikos, Atromitos, Xanthi, and Iraklis, in the UEFA Cup’s first round. Teams that prevail here advance to the competition’s second round, the group stage. Also competing in the third round of the Intertoto Cup, Cypriot club Ethnikos Achnas defeated Maccabi Petah-Tikva 2-0, away, to gain a major advantage for a berth in the UEFA Cup’s second round of qualifiers. The visiting Cypriots scored twice in the second half, in the 65th and 78th minutes, for their valuable 2-0 victory.