APOEL Nicosia

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LIVE, UCL: Amid tense encounters, Ajax battle for group stage

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The second legs of the UEFA Champions League playoff round take center stage on Wednesday, as Ajax, Club Brugge and Slavia Prague all host ties which are in the balance.

[ LIVE: Champions League scores ]

All three games will be tight and tense occasions as the winners will get the final three spots in the UCL group stage for the 2019-20 season.

Ajax, who reached the semifinals of the UCL last season, drew 0-0 away at APOEL Nicosia last time out and were pretty lucky to get that result. They are expected to advance in Amsterdam but their young team has to improve as the Cypriot champions looked dangerous on set pieces and counter attacks in the first leg.

Club Brugge and Slavia Prague both have slender advantages heading into the second legs, with Brugge winning 1-0 against Linz ASK in Austria and Slavia winning by the same scoreline in Romania against Cluj in the first leg. With so much on the line financially for all of these clubs, Wednesday’s clashes will be nail-bitters.

Below is the full schedule for Wednesday’s games, with all games kicking off at 3 p.m. ET.

Click on the link above to follow all of the action live, while we will have you covered with a roundup of the action right here on Pro Soccer Talk.


Wednesday
Ajax v. APOEL Nicosia (0-0)
Slavia Prague v. CFR Cluj (1-0)
Club Brugge v. LASK (1-0)

Live, UCL: Ajax in action as playoff round begins

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The first legs of the UEFA Champions League playoff round kick off on Tuesday, as Ajax, Club Brugge and Slavia Prague all head on road trips as they hope to clear the final hurdle and reach the group stage.

[ LIVE: Champions League scores ]

It is rather outrageous that Ajax, the reigning Dutch champions who reached the semifinal of the UCL last season, have to qualify for this tournament, but here they are. Dusan Tadic (fresh from signing a new seven-year contract) is once again leading the charge for this young Dutch side who have lost Frenkie de Jong and Matthijs de Ligt over the summer, and edged past PAOK 5-4 on aggregate in the last round. Ajax head to APOEL Nicosia of Cyprus in the first leg and hope to have a healthy advantage to take back with them to Amsterdam for the second leg next week.

Club Brugge head to LASK Linz from Austria as USMNT goalkeeper Evan Horvath now faces real competition for his starting spot as Belgian national team and former Liverpool goalkeeper Simon Mignolet arrived over the summer. LASK shocked FC Basel in the third qualifying round

As for the other game on Tuesday, CFR Cluj host Slavia Prague in Romania in a clash between two teams who have been making waves in Europe over the past few years. Cluj knocked Celtic out in the last round and it will be quite the occasion in Transylvania, as Slavia’s star man is Romanian international Nicolae Stanciu.

Below is the full schedule for Tuesday’s games, with all games kicking off at 3 p.m. ET. Three more UCL playoff games take place on Wednesday.

Click on the link above to follow all of the action live, while we will have you covered with a roundup of the action right here on Pro Soccer Talk.


Tuesday
APOEL Nicosia v. Ajax
CFR Cluj v. Slavia Prague
LASK v. Club Brugge

APOEL rejects coach’s resignation offer after poor showing

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NICOSIA, Cyprus (AP) The board of directors of Cyprus champion APOEL has rejected coach Giorgos Donis’ resignation offer after a 1-1 draw with last-placed Ethnikos left the team well back in the standings.

Donis said after Saturday’s game that he took full responsibility for APOEL’s lackluster performances. But in a tweet, APOEL’s top brass said they don’t accept the Greek coach’s resignation and “it’s everyone’s obligation to correct the situation.”

[ MORE: Man City’s big Saturday ]

The team sits in eighth place, 11 points behind leader AEK Larnaca but with three games in hand.

APOEL faces Borussia Dortmund next week in a Champions League Group H game.

APOEL managed a 1-1 home draw against the German champion last week for its first point in the competition after successive 3-0 losses to Real Madrid and Tottenham.

APOEL Nicosia 0-3 Tottenham Hotspur: Kane nets hat trick

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Cyprus has been kind to Harry Kane.

The English striker scored thrice for Spurs, who join group mates Real Madrid on six points after a 3-0 win at APOEL Nicosia in UEFA Champions League action on Tuesday.

The Bernabeu is next for Spurs, an Oct. 17 date with 2-0 Real Madrid, while APOEL will host Borussia Dortmund.

[ MORE: Champions League standings ]  

Hugo Lloris flubbed an early clearance and was fortunate to see the back-bounding ball dribble wide of his left post.

Carlao could’ve given APOEL a surprise lead close to halftime but headed wide of the net from within 10 yards.

Kane nearly added an assist to his ledger at the start of the second half, but Son Heung-min just missed his effort wide of the frame.

He scored another goal anyway, and another one. Moussa Sissoko set Kane up for the second of the night, a relatively simple finish for the striker, and Kane completed his trio of goals when he headed Kieran Trippier‘s cross home.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]