Benfica, Dynamo Kiev, Ajax reach final round of Champions League qualifiers

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Istanbul/ Moscow/Amsterdam, Aug 15 (IANS) Benfica, Dynamo Kiev and Ajax Amsterdam advanced to the final round of qualifiers for the 2018-2019 UEFA Champions League, while Fenerbahce and Celtic were among the football clubs eliminated.

Leading 1-0 after the first leg in Lisbon, Benfica took a 1-0 lead on Tuesday in Istanbul on a goal by Gedson Fernandes, though Alper Potuk equalised for Fenerbahce just before the break. But the hosts couldn’t get the second goal they needed to force the contest into extra time and Benfica prevailed 2-1 on aggregate, reports Efe.

Their opponents in the next round will be PAOK Salonika, who held Spartak 0-0 in Moscow to advance 3-2 on aggregate.

Benjamin Verbic and Artem Biesiedin led hosts Dynamo Kiev 2-0 over Slavia Prague for a 3-1 aggregate victory.

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The Ukrainian squad will square off in the next phase against Ajax, who got goals from Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, Matthijs de Ligt and David Neres in a 3-0 home win over Standard Liege after the sides drew 2-2 in the first leg.

In Athens, hosts AEK bested Celtic 2-1 for a 3-1 win on aggregate. Rodrigo Galo and Marko Livaja scored for the hosts and Scott Sinclair responded for the Scottish champions.

Next up for AEK will be MOL Vidi, who stymied Malmö 0-0 on Tuesday to advance by virtue of scoring an away goal in the 1-1 first leg in Sweden.

Azerbaijani outfit Qarabag FK managed a 1-1 draw with Bate Borisov in Belarus, but lost 1-2 on aggregate after falling 0-1 at home in the first leg. Bate will face PSV Eindhoven in the final qualifying round.

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Red Star Belgrade needed a goal in extra time from Nemanja Radonjic to edge hosts Spartak Trnava 2-1 and advance 3-2 on aggregate.

The Serbian side can look forward to a match-up with Salzburg, who beat Shkëndija 1-0 to complete a 4-0 aggregate victory.

Dinamo Zagreb blanked Astana 1-0 in the Croatian capital on Tuesday and advanced 3-0 on aggregate to a clash with Switzerland’s Young Boys.

–IANS

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