LONDON: Six-time champion AC Milan and former winners Ajax and Liverpool put themselves in position to reach the group stage of the Champions League on Wednesday.

AC Milan beat Red Star Belgrade 1-0, Ajax won 2-1 at Copenhagen, and Liverpool beat Israeli club Maccabi Haifa 2-1 at Anfield.

They were three of 14 third-round, first-leg qualifying games played on Wednesday with the second legs in two weeks. The survivors advance to the 32-team group stage, which begins on September 12. The final is on May 23 in Athens.

Huntelaar's brace

Klaas-Jan Huntelaar got both goals for Ajax, putting the Dutch ahead in the 37th and then scoring the winner in the 83rd after Brede Hangeland's first-half, injury-time goal.

Chilean Mark Gonzalez scored the winner for five-time champion Liverpool in the 88th, finding the net from eight meters. It was his first goal for the club, and he scored just minutes after coming on as a substitute.

Brazilian Gustavo Boccoli gave Maccabi Haifa a 1-0 lead in the 29th and Craig Bellamy got his first official goal for Liverpool, in the 33rd.

Salzburg stuns Valencia

In other games on Wednesday, Austrian team Salzburg upset Spain's visiting Valencia on Karel Pitak's 73rd-minute goal.

CSKA Moscow defeated Ruzomberok of Slovakia 3-0 with Ivica Olic scoring twice. Dynamo Kiev beat Turkey's Fenerbahce 3-1. Fellow Turkish club Galatasaray defeated Czech team Mlada Boleslav 5-2 . Czech team Liberec drew Spartak Moscow 0-0.

French club Lille defeated Rabotnicki of Macedonia 3-0. Shakhtar Donetsk of Ukraine defeated Legia Warsaw 1-0, and Levski Sofia beat Italy's Chievo 2-0.

The results: AC Milan bt Red Star Belgrade 1-0, Ajax bt Copenhagen 2-1, Liverpool bt Maccabi Haifa 2-1, Salzburg bt Valencia 1-0, CSKA Moscow bt Ruzomberok 3-0, Dynamo Kiev bt Fenerbahce 3-1, Galatasaray bt Mlada Boleslav 5-2, Liberec drew with Spartak Moscow 0-0, Lille bt Rabotnicki 3-0, Shakhtar Donetsk bt Legia Warsaw 1-0, Levski Sofia bt Chievo 2-0, Hamburg drew with Osasuna 0-0, Standard Liege drew with Steaua Bucharest 2-2, EK Athens bt Hearts 2-1. AP

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