FLORENCE, ITALY - AUGUST 25: Maicosuel of Udinese Calcio scores the opening goal during the Serie A match between ACF Fiorentina and Udinese Calcio at Stadio Artemio Franchi on August 25, 2012 in Florence, Italy. (Photo by Paolo Bruno/Getty Images)
3 Total Updates since August 28, 2012
9 months ago Update 0 comments
On Tuesday, five teams booked their places in the UEFA Champions League group stage, but that still left five places up for grabs. Either by way of the Champions Route or the League Route, five more teams would find their ways out of their two-legged playoffs and secure all of the prestige, glory and money of the Champions League proper.
Dynamo Kiev advance 4-3 on aggregate
After losing 3-1 at home in the first leg, Gladbach was supposed to roll over and give up in Ukraine. For more than an hour, they basically did. Sure, they pushed players forward, but they never scared Dynamo. It was the insignificant bore that everyone expected it to be.
In the 70th minute, though, it got mildly interesting. Yevhen Khacheridi put the ball in his own goal and the margin was one. Dynamo was still in control, but at least there was a way back for Gladbach, even if it was still a long way back.
Eight minutes later, Juan Arango scored for Gladbach and it was on. The Germans were level on aggregate and while they would still be out on away goals, they were only one goal away from pulling off the comeback, which was otherwise known as doing the impossible.
But Brown Ideye ruined the fun in the 88th minute. He ran onto a ball over the top of the Gladbach defense, chipped the goalkeeper and put a damper on the fun. Of course, a Gladbach goal would still send the tie to extra time and they almost did get that vital goal, but almost doesn't count.
Gladbach almost scored again. Gladbach pulled off a great comeback. Dynamo are going to the group stages.
Lille advance 2-1 on aggregate after extra time
Danish clubs don't spend much time in the spotlight, but Copenhagen have acquitted themselves well in European competition in recent years. That was the case again in the first leg against Lille, when they earned a 1-0 win that wasn't exactly the margin that they were hoping for at home, but did keep Lille from notching an away goal.
In France on Wednesday, many expected Lille to dominate, but once again, Copenhagen proved tough. Lucas Digne's goal in the 43rd minute leveled the tie, but Copenhagen defended well and even scared the home side upon occasion.
Neither team could find a goal in the second half, which forced extra time and there Lille finally found their advantage over Copenhagen. They were brighter against a Copenhagen side that appeared to tire and in the 105th minuteTulio De Melo broke through. He beat the Copenhagen defense and beat Johan Wiland to notch the goal that has Lille heading to the group stage
Spartak advance 3-2 on aggregate
A 2-1 loss in Russia didn't doom Fenerbahce at all. It was a fine result, falling behind by only a goal and getting a vital away goal. But conceding inside of six minutes at home? That proved to be the Turks' undoing.
An early going by Ari put Spartak in the driver's seat, not just two goals up on aggregate, but with the away goal to match Fenerbahce. Moussa Sow brought a goal back for the home side in the 69th minute and Fenerbahce did their best to push for the goal that would send them to extra time, but it would not come and the Russians were moving on.
Celtic advance 4-0 on aggregate
After winning 2-0 in Sweden, Celtic returned home for a second leg that was essentially a formality, which it proved to be. The Scots never really exerted themselves and still got goals from Gary Hooper and Vitor Wanyama to pick up another comfortable win. The Scottish Premier League might not test Celtic this season, but now they have the Champions League, where Celtic might be fighting for Scottish football pride after an embarrassing few years for the country.
Cluj advance 3-1 on aggregate
Basel may have been the darlings of last year's Champions League after beating Manchester United to advance to the knockout stages, but that Basel team had Xherdan Shaqiri and Granit Xhaka. Both of them are now gone and it showed against Cluj, who never looked too bothered by Basel. The Romanians won the first leg in Switzerland, 2-1, and got a goal from Pantelis Kapetanos for a rather pedestrian 1-0 win in the second leg that has them heading to the group stages.
9 months ago Update 0 comments
The final places in the 2012-13 Champions League group stages were secured today across Europe. Three of the matches were fairly pedestrian with nothing changing from the first leg as BATE Borisov, Dinamo Zagreb and Malaga advanced while Anderlecht fought back to win their tie over AEL. For second straight year, Udinese failed to qualify for the group stages, this time in heartbreaking fashion.
BATE Borisov advances 3-1
Despite a goal from Laszlo Lencse in the 67th minute, Hapoel Kirya couldn't find the second goal they needed to draw even with BATE Borisov. Alexander Pavlov scored for Borisov in the 90th minute to put the final touches on their aggregate goal victory.
Zagreb advances 3-1
Maribor already had uphill battle ahead of them going in to the Ljudski vrt Stadium, but an away goal could have made things interesting. Instead, Zagreb's Tonel scored in the 12th minute and the Blues never looked back, coasting in to the group stages.
Malaga advances 2-0
Malaga and Panathinaikos played a fairly entertaining first leg in Spain, but with Los Boquerones holding the commanding 2 goal advantage, Manuel Pellegrini's side chose instead to conserve their energies and defend their way in to the group stages.
Braga advances 2-2 (5-4 on penalties)
It easily the most entertaining match of the day, Udinese got the goal they needed Pablo Armero to take a 2-1 lead in the tie in the 25th minute. The Bianconeri seemed to relax a bit too much after the goal and even had a chance to extend their lead when Armero was in alone on the Braga keeper but inexplicably fell in the box before he could get off a shot. Despite that, Udinese were still still in good shape until Rúben Micael scored for Braga in the 72nd minute, sending the match to extra time. After 120 minutes, the teams remained tied and penalties would decide the day. The difference ended up being the incredibly poor decision by new signing Maicosuel to attempt a paneka on his OK attempt that was easily saved by Beto.
9 months ago Update 0 comments
Anderlecht left it late, but goals from Deiudonne Mbokani and Oleksandr Yakovenko in the final ten minutes were all they needed to get past AEL and reclaim their place in the group stages.
Anderlecht's intent was exactly what you'd expect from a team down 2-1 in an aggregate tie...get the first goal. AEL's intent was more of a "thrown the kitchen sink at them" approach in a desperate attempt to hold on to their advantage. Really all the Belgian side needed was a 1-0 win and they would be through to the group stages but AEL was bound and determined to prevent that from happening.
Call if the irresitable force versus the immovable object and something was bound to give, or at least we hoped so.
Despite the intent from Anderlecht most of the first half was spent trying to break down the AEL defense and failing to do so. Add to it a lot of frustration and consternation concerning AEL's diving and time wasting and you get the idea. Just how bad was it? AEL keeper Matias Degra was shown a yellow card for time wasting right before the half ended. The most dramatic moment of the half came from Anderlecht's goalkeeper Silvio Proto kept them in the tie with a tremendous point blank save on Rui Miguel about ten minutes before the break.
More frustrating play in the second half as Anderlecht became more and more desperate. It look like they'd finally get their goal in the 66th after Deiudonne Mbokani headed down a cross right to the feet Guillaume Gillet who put way too much power on his shot and slammed the ball off the crossbar from roughly five feet out. Moments later Anderlecht again failed to score after wild scramble that saw Matias Degra make four consecutive saves and ended with Lucas Biglia being yellow carded for diving, trying to earn a penalty.
With ten minutes left, Anderlecht finally got their goal. Massimo Bruno delivered a cross that somehow got past two AEL defenders and landed perfectly on Mbokani's foot. The striker wasted no time, blasting a shot past Degra to give Anderlecht a 1-0 lead and more importantly, a 2-2 draw in the aggregate. Oleksandr Yakovenko sealed it right before the the 90 minute mark, setting off this moment of joy between Anderlecht's head coach John van den Brom and an assistant.
Anderlecht, who had to deal with this playoff round after Chelsea bumped them out of their group stage spot, are back in.