Champions League review

Celtic, Zenit make play-off round

August 7, 2013

Celtic booked their place in the Champions League play-off round as a 0-0 draw against Elfsborg in Boras gave Neil Lennon's men a slender 1-0 aggregate win.

Mohamed Bangura battles with Charlie Mulgrew
GettyImagesMohamed Bangura battles with Charlie Mulgrew

The Hoops travelled to Sweden for the second leg of their third qualifying round with a Kris Commons goal to defend, and while it was not a great display from manager Lennon's team they did enough to get through the tie.

On the Swedish club's artificial surface, both teams had chances in an opening 45 minutes with Elfsborg's on-loan striker, Mo Bangura, missing a sitter against his parent club. By comparison the second half was dour, and while the final stages were tense the Scottish champions remained solid to the end.

The draw for the play-off takes place on Friday, with the Parkhead club a step closer to the lucrative group stages of the competition from which they emerged last season to reach the last 16 of the competition.

Zenit St Petersburg made no mistake in booking their place in the Champions League play-off round with a 5-0 thrashing of FC Nordsjaelland.

A potential shock in the third round of qualifying had been on the cards ever since the Russians edged a slender 1-0 win in the first leg, but Luciano Spalletti's men quickly dispelled any such illusions among the travelling Danish fans.

Roman Shirokov opened the scoring on 26 minutes before Hulk (50) and Danny (62) struck after the break to give Zenit an imposing lead. Substitute Andrey Arshavin added a fourth goal in the 68th minute and the hosts even rode out the dismissal of defender Luis Neto to complete the rout through Shirokov on the stroke of full-time.

PSV Eindhoven shrugged off talk of a shock exit from the Champions League third qualifying round by converting a confident 5-0 aggregate win at 10-man Zulte-Waregem.

Philip Cocu's men made hard work of a 2-0 home victory over the plucky Belgians in last week's first leg and their hosts gave little away until Steve Colpaert was sent off in the 56th minute.

Tim Matavz scored the resulting penalty and the Dutchmen soon forged ahead to capitalise on their one-man advantage, with Zakaria Bakkali notching in the 73nd minute before Bruno Godeau put through his own net on the stroke of full-time.

Viktoria Plzen shared an eight-goal thriller with Nomme Kalju which saw the Czech side emerge 10-2 aggregate winners when the dust finally settled. The Estonians were never likely to overturn a 4-0 first-leg deficit but they could not have predicted the scoreline in Plzen - despite opening the scoring through Damiano Quinteri in the 10th minute.

Pavel Horvath soon scored a 20th-minute penalty and added a second goal just before half-time with Stanislav Tecl making it 3-1 in the 58th minute. That was Horvath's cue to complete his hat-trick on 62 minutes but Quinteri would manage to score again seven minutes later.

Plzen brushed off any thoughts of a Kalju comeback, however, as late goals from substitutes Tomas Horava (71) and Tomas Wagner (82) rounded out a 6-2 win on the night.

Dinamo Zagreb ensured Croatia were represented in the next round after cruising to a 3-0 win at Sheriff Tiraspol of Moldova. Dinamo led 1-0 from the first leg and goals from Said Husejinovic (10), El Arbi Hillel Soudani (27) and Duje Cop (61) put the outcome of the tie beyond doubt.

Elsewhere, Austria Vienna survived the second-half dismissal of Markus Suttner to ride out a goalless draw at FH Hafnarfjordur and progress with a 1-0 aggregate victory, while a 1-1 draw between Metalist Kharkiv and PAOK was enough to see the Ukrainian club progress 3-1 on aggregate.

Metalist held a 2-0 advantage before the game and Sebastian Blanco effectively poured cold water on Greek hopes of a comeback with a 72nd-minute goal, but substitute Tomas Necid would pull one back seven minutes from time.

NON-CHAMPIONS ROUTE
SEEDS: Arsenal, Lyon, AC Milan, Schalke 04, Zenit St Petersburg
NON-SEEDS: PSV Eindhoven, Metalist Kharkiv, Fenerbahce, Real Sociedad, Pacos de Ferreira

CHAMPIONS ROUTE
SEEDS: FC Basel, Celtic, Steaua Bucharesti, Viktoria Plzen, Dinamo Zagreb
NON-SEEDS: Austria Vienna, Legia Warsaw, NK Maribor, Ludogorets Razgrad, Shakhtyer Karaganda

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