Slavia Prague

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Conte’s Inter avoids UCL upset in stoppage time

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The Champions League nearly began with an upset, as Slavia Prague led Inter Milan 1-0 into stoppage time at the San Siro on Tuesday.

But a pair of Inter loanees produced a play to tie the score in the second minute of stoppage, as Stefano Sensi (Sassuolo) curled a free kick off the bar and Nicolo Barella (Cagliari) first timed the rebound through traffic and inside the far post.

[ LIVE: Champions League scores ]

Peter Olayinka started and finished the play for Slavia Prague’s second half opener. The scorer took the ball to the end line and cut back for Lukas Provod, whose shot was saved by Samir Handanovic.

But Olayinka followed the play and took advantage of the marker who slid to block his initial pass. On the doorstep at the back post, the Nigerian smashed the ball into the top of the goal.

The goal was deserved, and the score line represented the tightness of the contest. Inter barely out shot the Czech visitors and had just a little bit more of the ball.

Romelu Lukaku nearly thumped home a header in the sixth minute of stoppage, but Slavia keeper Ondrej Kolar made a fine save.

Here’s the equalizer:

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)

UCL qualifying: Slavia Prague wins via golazo; 10-man Ajax held

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Nerves were jangly and defenses tight as the UEFA Champions League began its final stage before group play next month.

[ MORE: Klopp “couldn’t afford” Coutinho ]


APOEL Nicosia 0-0 Ajax

The Eredivisie winners and 2018-19 UCL semifinalists could not manage an away goal, which was not aided by an 80th minute red card for Noussair Mazraoui.

The Moroccan national team defender was sent off for his second yellow, putting a bit more pressure on American fullback Sergino Dest and Co.

Dest, 18, came off the bench in the 62nd minute for his second career UCL appearance.

Ajax was given seven of the match’s nine yellow cards.

CFR Cluj 0-1 Slavia Prague

Lukas Masopust scored the lone goal of the match in the 28th minute as the Czech powers brought an advantage back home for the second leg.

It was a cute finish, from afar.

LASK 0-1 Club Brugge

American goalkeeper Ethan Horvath again watched as newly-signed starter Simon Mignolet kept a clean sheet.

This time the stage was in Austria, and Mignolet only faced a single shot over 90 minutes. The winner came from the spot courtesy of twice-capped Belgian national teamer Hans Vanaken.

Wednesday’s matches

All matches at 3 p.m. ET

Dinamo Zagreb v. Rosenborg
Olympiacos v. Krasnodar
Young Boys v. Red Star Belgrade

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

Chelsea survive, hold off Slavia Prague to advance to Europa League semis

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Chelsea advanced to the UEFA Europa League semifinals on Thursday evening, but not without a few heart-stopping moments at both ends of the field.

Chelsea defeated Slavia Prague, 4-3, (5-3 on aggregate) in a seven-goal thriller that looked at one point to be headed for double digits in combined goals. Pedro scored a pair of goals, the first on a wonderful team effort, while Olivier Giroud and an own goal also helped Chelsea’s cause.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box scores ]

While Chelsea ran out to an impressive 4-1 lead on the night at the halftime break, Slavia Prague was kept in the game thanks to the right leg of Petr Ševčík, who scored twice early in the second half to make it a game again, and put Slavia just two goals away from an improbable result at Stamford Bridge.

After Tottenham’s wild finish past Manchester City, anything seems to be possible these days. However, Chelsea held down the fort late and survived to advance to the next round.

In the match, Chelsea displayed some of the beautiful soccer that had made Maurizio Sarri such a prized figure in coaching circles. Chelsea’s first goal featured a litany of one-touch passes and great off the ball movement, ending with a Pedro goal.

Chelsea went up 2-0 thanks to an own goal we’ve rarely seen before, as Pedro fired a shot that cannon’d off the post, popped up in the air and directed off Slavia Prague defender Simon Dell and into his own net. Then Giroud scored before Pedro finished at the first post again on what should have been his hat-trick to put Chelsea up 4-1.

However, Ševčík wasn’t finished yet, and the Czech midfielder popped a pair of great goals to make for some nervy moments late at Stamford Bridge. Ultimately, though, Chelsea was able to move on and advance to the semifinals. Chelsea will next face Eintracht Frankfort, which completed a terrific home comeback with a 2-0 win to go through past Benfica on away goals, tied 4-4 on aggregate.