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FC Thun realise Champions League dream

Tiago Bernardi (right) scores for Thun

(Keystone)

Thun have secured an unlikely place among Europe's football elite by clinching a spot in the group stage of the prestigious Champions League.

The minnows from Switzerland beat Swedish champions Malmö 3-0 in the second leg of their third-round qualifying match.

Thun, a humble club with an annual budget of only SFr5 million ($3.9 million), took just over an hour to seal victory against the Swedish team. They had already won the first leg 1-0 away.

A successful header by Tiago Bernardi and newly capped Swiss international Mauro Lustrinelli's solo effort ensured a comfortable 2-0 lead at half-time in Tuesday's return match in Bern.

Lustrinelli added a third goal in the 64th minute with a sensational strike from 30 metres to send the home fans delirious inside the 31,243-capacity stadium.

The victory means that Thun, runners-up in last year's Swiss championship, have booked a place alongside the heavyweights of European football.

They could now face top teams from England, Italy and Spain in the group stage of the Champions League. The draw will take place on Thursday.

Second Swiss squad

Thun are also guaranteed a SFr7.5 million financial boost by qualifying for the final stages of the competition.

The Swiss outsiders knocked out Ukraine's Dynamo Kiev in the previous qualifying round.

On Wednesday Swiss champions FC Basel will be hoping to join rivals Thun when they face Germany's Werder Bremen.

Basel won the first leg at home 2-1. Three years ago they became the first top Swiss team to make it to the group stage of the Champions League.

swissinfo with agencies

In brief

FC Thun was founded in 1898 and played amateur third division football until the mid-1990s.

In 2002 they were promoted to the top flight of Swiss football.

Last season Thun finished as runners-up behind champions FC Basel.

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Key facts

FC Thun defeated Malmö of Sweden 4-0 on aggregate.
The Swiss runners-up have an annual budget of SFr5 million.
Qualification for the group stage of the Champions League will earn them at least SFr7.5 million.

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