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UEFA Champions League: Ajax blows 2-0 lead; American debuts

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The UEFA Champions League moved one more step toward the playoff round with Tuesday’s first legs of the third qualifying round.

[ MORE: Pogba wants Barcelona move ]

Malmo 1-1 MOL Vidi

Uwe Rosler’s hosts held the lead for a whopping nine minutes, through Anders Christiansen, before the Hungarian club formerly known as Videoton answered through Loic Nego.

USMNT midfield prospect Romain Gall made his UEFA Champions League debut, playing the final 10 minutes of the draw. Gall managed a shot during his appearance.

Standard Liege 2-2 Ajax

Dusan Tadic struck again, scoring another UCL goal for the visitors as they built a 2-0 away lead (Klaas Jan Huntelaar bagged the other). But Medhi Carcela scored in the 67th minute and Renaud Emond converted a penalty deep into stoppage time to send the tie back to Holland level at two.

Benfica 1-0 Fenerbahce

USMNT midfielder Keaton Parks was not in the 18, but goal scorer Franco Cervi very much was and saw his deflected shot put the Portuguese hosts ahead after one leg.

Elsewhere
Slavia Prague 1-1 Dynamo Kiev
Astana 0-2 Dinamo Zagreb
Qarabag 0-1 BATE Borisov
Red Star Belgrade 1-1 Spartak Trnava

Wednesday
Celtic vs. AEK Athens
Red Bull Salzburg vs. Shkendija
PAOK vs. Spartak Moscow

UEFA Champions League wrap: Ajax, Celtic, Malmo go through

Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images
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Third qualifying round match-ups are set for next week following nine UCL second legs on Wednesday.

[ MORE: Kouyate to Palace? ]

Malmo 1-1 (2-1 agg.) CFR Cluj

A 77th minute red card for the visitors short-circuited any hopes for a comeback after Malmo’s Arnor Ingvi Traustason equalized Damjan Dokovic’s opener. USMNT prospect Romain Gall was an unused substitute for Malmo.

Rosenborg 0-0 (1-3 agg.) Celtic

No goals in Norway, but that won’t bother Brendan Rodgers too much as Celtic books two legs with AEK Athens.

SK Sturm Graz 1-3 (1-5 agg.) Ajax

Klaas-Jan Huntelaar’s brace was sandwiched around Dusan Tadic‘s first goal in an Ajax strip, as the ex-Southampton man helped his new side to a next round date with Standard Liege.

Elsewhere
MOL Vidi 1-0 (1-0 agg.) Ludogorets Razgrad
FC Basel 0-3 (1-5 agg.) PAOK Salonika
Suduva 0-2 (0-5 agg.) Red Star Belgrade
Qarabag 3-0 (3-0 agg.) Kukesi
Midyjylland 0-0 (1-2 agg) Astana
HJK Helsinki 1-2 (1-2 agg.) BATE Borisov

Next week’s third qualifying round
Celtic vs. AEK Athens
Red Bull Salzburg vs. Shkendija
Red Star Belgrade vs. Spartak Trnava
Qarabag vs. BATE Borisov
Astana vs. Dinamo Zagreb
Malmo vs. MOL Vidi
Standard Liege vs. Ajax
Benfica vs. Fenerbahce
Slavia Prague vs. Dynamo Kyiv
PAOK vs. Spartak Moscow

Ajax excited to land $16m “first class winner” Tadic

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Dusan Tadic really has left Southampton.

The 29-year-old Serbian star is leaving St. Mary’s for the Amsterdam Arena, just as Southampton appears ready to replace him with Mohamed Elyounoussi.

Ajax could end up paying as much as $16 million for his services

[ MORE: Rodwell to MLS? ]

Tadic told his incredible life story to Joe Prince-Wright earlier this season, and is a big reason Saints remain the Premier League.

A star in Eredivisie stints with Groningen and Twente, Tadic leaves the Premier League with 24 goals and 35 assists in 162 league appearances.

Here’s Ajax director Marc Overmars, via english.ajax.nl:

“Dusan Tadic’s arrival gives our selection a big shot of quality.  He can play in several positions, at midfield and offense.  Moreover, his experience is important for many young talents from our selection. He’s a ‘first class winner’, and those are the players we like to have with us.”

Ajax sold star youngster Justin Kluivert to Roma, and lost Amin Younes to Napoli, but has brought in Tadic as well as Zakaria Labyad from Utrecht and Hassane Bande from Mechelen.

Tadic is clearly the cream of that crop, and the veteran will be tasked with leading the Amsterdam unit from three successive second place Eredivisie finishes back into first.

Serbia 1-2 Switzerland: Late Shaqiri break shatters Serbian hearts

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One of the most exciting games of the 2018 World Cup proved entertaining from start to finish, ended by a stunning breakaway goal by Xherdan Shaqiri that capped a 2-1 Switzerland comeback victory over Serbia.

The start of the game was all Serbia, with Newcastle striker Aleksandar Mitrovic the most dangerous option up front, and he delivered on that promise just five minutes in. After a pair of chances just kept out by Yann Sommer, Mitrovic powered in a header off a Dusan Tadic cross to put Serbia in front early on.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ] 

The goal confirmed yet another game without a 0-0 draw, 26 in a row to start the tournament, marking the World Cup record set back in 1954 when every single game in the Switzerland event featured a goal.

Click here for live and on demand coverage of the World Cup online and via the NBC Sports App.

After the goal, the game exploded, with Serbia looking to double its lead and Switzerland hoping to gain a grip on the match. Without a second coming, Switzlerland began to build promisingly, and had its first chance right on the half-hour mark as Steven Zuber through-ball sprung Blerim Dzemaili, but his sliding effort was saved brilliantly by Vladimir Stojkovic at the last second. They had a second chance minutes later, but for some reason Xherdan Shaqiri decided for one too many crosses rather than taking the open shot himself.

Serbia didn’t just look to see out the first half, though, as the star of the first half Dusan Tadic nearly gave his team another lift. First, he delivered a fabulous corner that stunningly skipped through the box untouched. Then, just before the break, Tadic came agonizingly close to what would have been a fabulous half-volley strike that flew viciously wide.

[ LIVE: World Cup scores ]

After the break, the back-and-forth action continued, and Granit Xhaka struck an absolute stunner on the counter to level the match seven minutes into the second half. Shaquiri’s initial attempt from the right edge of the box was blocked and the rebound fell to the Arsenal midfielder outside the penalty area. His follow-up was a laser, curling through the defense and past a wrong-footed Stojkovic.

The chaos continued, with Serbia swinging back into the initiative. Mitrovic had a penalty shout turned down after being bear-hugged and wrestled to the ground by a pair of defenders, and minutes later Aleksandr Kolarov delivered a luscious cross into the box but nobody was there to tap it home.

Serbia began to tire as the game inched towards the final minutes, and Switzerland had most of the late pressure. One moment of brilliance caught the Serbians sleeping, and it proved the difference. Mario Gavranovic fed Shaqiri on the break from his own half, and free on goal the Stoke City winger made no mistake as the last ticks of regulation came off.

The win for Switzerland moves them to four points through the first two matches, leaving them level atop Group E with Brazil on points but in second thanks to an inferior goal differential. Serbia, meanwhile, sits third with three points. Switzerland would advance to the knockout stage with a win or draw in their final match against Costa Rica, while the winner of Brazil vs. Serbia will advance as well, with Brazil advancing in the event of a draw.

Report: Southampton could sell Tadic to Ajax for $20m

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Could Southampton be selling one of its most creative forces?

Dusan Tadic, 29, is in the middle of a World Cup run with dark horse Serbia, but the Saints star is also being talked about as a purchase item for Ajax.

[ MORE: Serbia tops Costa Rica ]

The celebrated Eredivisie has traditionally been a selling club for the Premier League, but could be a $20 million buy for Ajax.

The report says director of players Marc Overmars and financial director Jeroen Slop have flown to Southampton to work out a deal.

Tadic starred for Dutch sides Groningen and Twente between 2010-14 before moving to St. Mary’s for a reported $12 million.

He’s scored 24 goals with 35 assists in 162 appearances for Saints, 21 and 30 of which came in the Premier League.