UEFA Champions League qualifying: Celtic shocked, AZ wins thriller

Celtic upset
Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images
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We know the identity of the 13 teams joining Benfica, Dynamo Kiev, and Gent in the third qualifying round of the UEFA Champions League following Wednesday action around Europe.

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Ferencvaros, AZ Alkmaar, and Molde are counted among the 16 teams will drawn against each other very soon, the eight winners joining Red Bull Salzburg, Olympiakos, Slavia Prague, and Krasnodar in the playoff round.

The eight survivors of that round will join the group stage draw.

Celtic 1-2 Ferencvaros

An injury to Celtic star striker Odsonne Eduoard lent this match an eerie feel once David Siger opened the scoring for the visitors with a tremendous seventh minute strike, and it proved a harbinger to an upset despite Celtic’s 28-7 edge in shots.

That was Ferencvaros’ only shot and shot on target in the first half, as the visitors had 30 percent possession.

Celtic found a goal through Ryan Christie, assisted by Southampton loanee Mohamed Elyounoussi, in the 53rd minute but the second goal proved nearly as tricky to conjure in Glasgow.

In fact, it was the Hungarian side who’d find the back of the net with a quarter-hour to play, South Sudanese winger Tokmac Nguen beating Vasilis Barkas to send the Scottish champions’ into Europa League qualifying.

The loss will challenge Neil Lennon’s second tenure in charge, which is much more focused on Celtic’s aim of a 10th-straight Scottish Premiership title.

AZ Alkmaar 3-1 Viktoria Plzen

AZ might boast Barcelona target Calvin Stengs, but all the fireworks came after the Dutch youngster left the pitch at the AFAS Stadium.

Teun Koopmeiners, once rumored for Everton, scored a stoppage-time equalizer after David Limbersky boosted the Czech visitors into a 78th-minute lead.

Stengs’ 64th-minute replacement, Iceland international Albert Gudmundsson, scored twice in extra time as AZ moved into the next round.

CFR Cluj 2-2 (5-6 penalties) Dinamo Zagreb

This one was a beauty, right down to the penalties.

Cluj trailed 1-0 at halftime but soon had a man advantage when Kevin Theophile-Catherine was sent off for violent conduct.

It was 1-1 through Michael Pereira in the 64th but Lirim Kastrati helped the Croatians retake the lead, only for a stoppage-time goal to force extra time.

The first eight penalty takers converted, but the “first one to miss” maxim proved false thanks to successive saves. Dinamo made their next two before a miss sent Cluj to the Europa League.

Elsewhere

PAOK 3-1 Besiktas
Suduva 0-3 Maccabi Tel Aviv
Celje 1-2 Molde
Qarabag 2-1 Sheriff Tiraspol
Lokomotiva Zagreb 0-1 Rapid Vienna
Ludogorets Razgrad 0-1 Midtjylland
Dynamo Brest 2-1 Sarajevo
Legia Warsaw 0-1 Omonia Nicosia
Young Boys 2-1 Klaksvikar Itrottaffelag
Tirana 0-1 Red Star Belgrade