Ajax, AEK, Young Boys qualify for Champions League

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Kiev (Ukraine), Aug 29 (IANS) One-time powerhouse Ajax, the Amsterdamsche football club, can look forward to Champions League play for the first time in five seasons after holding Dynamo Kiev 0-0 in the second leg of their qualifier to win 3-1 on aggregate.

AEK Athens and Young Boys Bern also claimed berths in the group stage of Europe’s elite club competition on Tuesday, getting past MOL Vidi and Dinamo Zagreb, respectively.

Ajax, who started contest in Kiev with a 3-1 advantage from the first leg in Amsterdam, suffered a fright in the 5th minute when Dynamo’s Benjamin Verbic unleashed a strike that tested visiting goalkeeper Andre Onana, reports Efe news.

The Dutch side quickly regained their balance and eased into dominating the game, though without ever managing to translate that dominance into a goal.

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Aside from some impressive saves by Dynamo keeper Denys Boyko, Ajax forward Dusan Tadic hit the post from the penalty spot in the 14th minute, while teammate Hakim Ziyech rang one off the cross-bar in the 55th minute.

But the 0-0 was good enough to return four-time winners Ajax to the Champions League.

In the Greek capital, AEK likewise qualified with a draw, 1-1, thanks to having beaten MOL Vidi 2-1 in the first leg in Hungary.

AEK, eager to end their 12-year Champions League drought, appeared to have the situation in hand when Petros Mantolas converted from the spot in the 48th minute, yet Loic Nego equalized for Vidi 10 minutes later and the hosts went one less with the expulsion of defender Helder Lopes in the 81st minute.

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While the visitors pressed hard for a second goal to force the tie into extra time, AEK weathered the storm and Vidi will have to wait al least one more season to make their Champions League debut.

Young Boys, who managed only a 1-1 draw in the first leg in Bern, needed to win Tuesday in Zagreb and by a big enough margin to outweigh Dinamo’s away goal.

The night started badly for the Swiss side, who conceded a goal to Izet Hajrovic in the 7th minute, though they took the setback in stride.

The visitors pulled level in the 64th minute with Guillaime Hoarau’s successful penalty and took the lead two minutes later when the same player scored off a corner.

Young Boys saw out the match to punch their ticket for the Champions League.

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–IANS

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