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UEFA Champions League qualifying preview

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We’re so close to Thursday and the UEFA Champions League group stage draw, but six spots are still in play.

Here’s the state of play in all six ties.


Tuesday
All matches at 3 p.m. ET

Krasnodar returns home knowing it needs a historic result to have any hope of the group stage. Olympiacos has a 4-goal lead and has not allowed a goal in a competitive game in 540 minutes.

Red Star Belgrade holds the cards as Young Boys return the visit from a 2-2 first leg in Switzerland. A win obviously does the trick, but so will 0-0 or 1-1 draws.

Croatian powers Dinamo Zagreb hold a 2-0 edge after their first leg win over Rosenborg.


Wednesday
All matches at 3 p.m. ET

American teen Sergino Dest and Ajax didn’t manage a goal in Cyprus, but will like their chances of beating APOEL Nicosia for a place in the next stage.

Club Brugge and Slavia Prague return home from first legs with 1-0 advantages. Austrian side LASK will try to take care of Brugge in Belgium, while CFR Cluj has the challenge of overturning the Czech side’s one-goal advantage.

Europa League wrap: Valencia advance with dramatic stoppage time goal

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Valencia was on the verge of being knocked out of the UEFA Europa League in the round of 16 for the second consecutive year. Then Goncalo Guedes showed why he’s one of the top young attackers in Europe.

Deep in second half stoppage time, the Portuguese international used a shoulder faint to get past a defender in the box, took a touch, and then slotted home with his left foot to send the visiting Valencia squad into hysterics. The goal gave Valencia a 1-1 draw on the evening but a 3-2 aggregate win over FC Kuban Krasnodar. With the win, Valencia advances to the Europa League quarterfinals.

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Guedes’ strike followed an outstanding curling goal into the top corner by Krasnodar’s 19-year-old midfielder Magomed Suleymanov, which had put Krasnodar in position to advance to the next round.

Elsewhere in Europa League action, Inter Milan were bounced from the tournament by Eintracht Frankfurt. One of the top young attackers in Europe, Luka Jovic, scored the game’s only goal in the 6th minute. It’s an earlier-than-expected end to European competition for big spending Inter.

Here are the other finals from across Thursday’s Europa League action:

RB Salzburg 3-1 Napoli (3-4 agg.)

Benfica 3-0 AET Dinamo Zagreb (3-0 agg.)

Slavia Prague 4-3 AET Sevilla (6-5 agg.)

Villarreal 2-1 Zenit St. Petersburg (5-2 agg.)

Absurd Emond volley continues Europa League goal craze

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Europa League action on Thursday did not disappoint one bit. First, Real Betis loanee Giovanni Lo Celso scored an absolute rocket. Then Ruben Loftus-Cheek scored a hat-trick for Chelsea. Dynamo Kiev winger Tomasz Kedziora struck a missile with incredible pace to help the Ukranian club to a vital win. Now, add Standard Liege striker Renaud Emond to the list with the latest amazing goal.

With the Belgian club down 1-0 at home to Russian visitors Krasnodar at the break, Standard launched a speculative ball forward which easily found the head of a Kiev defender double-teaming Mehdi Carcela-Gonzalez. It wasn’t cleared far enough, falling to the feet of Emond.

However, instead of collecting the clear and marauding forward in space, he saw a glimmer of light behind Krasnodar goalkeeper Andrei Sinitsyn, and let it fly. The result was one of the more spectacular volleys you’ll ever see from just inside the attacking third.

The goal helped Standard Liege to a thrilling 2-1 victory, with the winner coming in the 93rd minute off the foot of Cyprus international Konstantinos Laifis. The win moved Standard Liege up to six points, leaving three teams all level on points at the top of a wide-open Group J.

For Emond, it’s another tally mark on his fantastic start to the 2018/19 season. He has two goals in his last two Europa League matches, added to his five goals in Belgian league play through the first 11 matches of the campaign.

Two Russian soccer players investigated for attacking official

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MOSCOW (AP) Russian police are investigating two soccer players accused of beating an official at a Moscow cafe.

Officials say that Zenit St. Petersburg striker Alexander Kokorin and Krasnodar midfielder Pavel Mamayev are accused of beating a department head from the Russian Ministry for Industry and Trade who rebuked them for behaving improperly.

[ PL ROUNDTABLE: The story so far ]

A video taken by a surveillance camera and broadcast by Russian TV stations on Tuesday showed the two players hitting the man with a chair over his head and slapping him in the face. A probe is under way, and the players could face up to two years in prison if found guilty.

The Russian Premier League strongly condemned the “hooliganism.” Krasnodar said it may terminate Mamayev’s contract, while Zenit said it would take disciplinary measures against Kokorin.

Iceland EURO hero Ragnar Sigurdsson signs with Fulham

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Ragnar Sigurdsson’s amazing summer continues.

The center back, 30, was among the most important pieces of Iceland’s run to the quarterfinals of EURO 2016.

Now he’s leaving Russian side Krasnodar for England, where he’ll join a promising Fulham side.

From FulhamFC.com:

He has agreed a two-year deal, with a Club option for a further 12 months.

The centre-back was an integral part of the Iceland team who exceeded all expectations at this summer’s European Championship in France, playing every minute as the Nordic nation reached the Quarter-Finals, where they were eventually knocked out by the host nation.

Fulham is unbeaten through four matches, with two wins, and has added Sone Aluko and Denis Odoi. Slaviša Jokanović’s bunch just might have a promotion run in them.