Milan Borjan

Photo by Srdjan Stevanovic/Getty Images

Champions League wrap: Canadian backstop Borjan’s Red Star advance

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There were no comebacks to be found in the second legs of the UEFA Champions League qualifying playoff round, as sides from Greece, Croatia, and Serbia found places in the group stage.

[ MORE: League Cup roundup ]


Krasnodar 1-2 (1-6 agg.) Olympiacos

Daniil Utkin’s 10th minute goal was the first Olympiacos has allowed in 550 minutes of UCL play this season, but the Greeks responded within a minute. Youssef El-Arabi’s 11th minute marker was the first of two on the day, and Olympiacos should prove to be a challenge coming out of Pot 3.

Rosenborg 1-1 (1-3 agg.) Dinamo Zagreb

Babajide David’s 11th minute goal gave the Norwegian side hope of overturning their 2-0 away first leg, but it was the only of its eight shots on target to see the scoreboard. Amer Gojak scored with about 20 minutes to play to salt away the tie.

Red Star Belgrade 1-1 (3-3 agg.) Young Boys

Did the tank help them? Who can say?

In the catbird seat with two away goals entering the match, Red Star was happy to absorb pressure from its desperate Swiss visitors until an opportunity presented itself in the form of Aleksa Vukanovic’s header.

Young Boys would need two goals from that point, and only found one via Comoros national teamer El Fardou Mohamed Ben Nabouhane. That’s not a huge surprise, as Red Star backstop and Canadian star Milan Borjan has been steady between the sticks.

Champions League qualifying wrap: Thriller in Switzerland

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A day after three UEFA Champions League matches yielded just two total goals, the dam broke open across Europe.

[ MORE: Tuesday’s UCL wrap ]

Dinamo Zagreb and Olympiacos cruised into the driver’s seat after multi-goal shutout home wins ahead next week’s second legs, while Young Boys and Red Star Belgrade thrilled in a 2-2 draw on Wednesday.

Olympiacos 4-0 Krasnodar

Lazar Randelovic scored two times in seven minutes as Olympiacos smashed open its playoff round tie with Krasnodar at Karaiskakis Stadium on Wednesday.

Miguel Guerrero and Daniel Podence also scored for the Greeks, whose lead was just 1-0 at halftime.

Dinamo Zagreb 2-0 Rosenborg

The Croatian powers got their goals in the firs half hour, with Bruno Petkovic converting an 8th minute penalty and Mislav Orsic rounding out the scoring in the 28th.

Young Boys 2-2 Red Star Belgrade

A combined 40 shots graced the Stade de Suisse in Switzerland, with the hosts taking 27 as well as an early lead. It was 1-1 after 18 minutes and the visitors took their only lead of the match in the 46th minute.

Guillaume Hoarau converted a 76th minute penalty to lower the damage heading to Serbia, and Red Star will be grateful for some fine saves coming from keeper Milan Borjan.

The Canadian backstop was very good aside from the opener, which was a 1v1 chance but also somewhat preventable.

Canada loses to Martinique in Gold Cup opener

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The game was already a disaster for Canada before stoppage time, with Martinique — sometimes pronounced by its full name: not even a FIFA member, Martinique — dominating one of the Gold Cup’s three automatic entrants. Though Canada were keeping more of the ball, they were also on their way to being outshot 27-8 by the French island’s team.

Then came stoppage time, when 37-year-old Fabrice Reuperné launched a rocket from 25 yards, one that may have doomed Canada’s chances of being one of the eight teams that advance from the 12-nation opening round. Just before the 93-minute mark, a left-footed volley of a clearance bounding out of the Canadian area gave goalkeeper Milan Borjan no chance to prevent a shocking opener to this year’s Gold Cup:

Martinique may have only have a population of around 403,000, but nine of their squad’s 23 players make their living off the island, playing in leagues such as France’s Ligue 1 (Kévin Olimpia), Ligue 2 (Olivier Thomert), Spain’s Segunda Division (Jean-Sylvain Babin, Grégory Arnolin), England’s League One (Yoann Arquin), and Major League Soccer (Frédéric Piquionne). While that doesn’t necessarily make them a great side, it does speak to the implied notion that something named Martinique can’t field a decent squad.

All the same, Canada didn’t just lose to Martinique. This wasn’t an against the run of play, one-off goal that made the final score uncharacteristic of how the game was played. The Canadians were decidedly second best, a humbling experience for a team that, while having struggled in recent World Cup qualifying campaigns, has a paved road into this competition.

Compounding the embarrassment: This result puts Canada on track to finish last in Group A. Without an upset over Mexico or Panama, Canada’s going home after three games, with a history set to reflect they not only lost to Martinique, they finished behind them in Group Play.