UEFA Champions League: Third Qualifying Round
Tuesday brought the conclusion to three teams in the League Path of the Champions League. Benfica, AZ Alkmaar, and Rapid Wien have lost. On the other hand, the winners advancing to the playoffs are PAOK, Dynamo Kyiv, and Gent.
The Champions Path allowed AC Omonoia, Ferencváros, Molde, Midtjylland, and Maccabi Tel-Aviv to proceed.
Tuesday, League Path
While Andrija Zivkovic, the former Benfica player, can be credited for PAOK’s victory, Jan Vertonghen played a part in it as well. Indeed, he scored an own goal in the 63rd minute. In contrast, Benfica wasted all of their energy in the first half. This allowed PAOK a series of counter-attacks and brought them closer to entering the group stage of the tournament for the first time.
After their win against Viktoria Plzen, we expected better results from AZ Alkmaar. Gerson Rodrigues and Mykola Shaparenko brought Dinamo the win. AZ did not need the miss by Ferdy Druijf in the 84th minute.
Yusuf Demir somewhat redeemed Rapid with a goal in the extra time. However, it was not enough against Niklas Dorsch and Roman Yaremchuk’s performance. It’s a shame, considering the sheer number of attacks Rapid tried to make against Gent.
Wednesday, Champions Path
Omonoia defeated Crvena Zvezda on penalties. Halftime was over after goals by Michael Lüftner and Mirko Ivanic. After the fierce struggle of both teams in the second half and extra time, it came down to the penalties. Finally, Omonoia won 4-2 after over two hours of playing against Crvena Zvezda.
Something similar happened to Molde in their match against Qarabağ. The only difference is that no goals were scored before the penalties. Final score: 6-5. It was a really close call, but Molde prevailed.
Maccabi Tel Aviv had a hard time defending their goal after Dan Biton made use of the penalty kick. Still, their defense was too much for Dinamo Brest. The match ended with 1-0.
Dinamo Zagreb did not score during their meetup against Ferencváros. Myrto Uzuni had the honor of the final goal of the match. However, this was just a bit of redemption after he rocked the net of his own goal in the 23rd minute.
Similarly, Young Boys could not catch a break. The Swiss had the misfortune of receiving three goals in their net. To add insult to injury, Jordan Lefort scored the first of the three goals. Interestingly enough, this is akin to how Young Boys defeated KÍ in the second qualifying round. Midtjylland absolutely obliterated their opponents and can look forward to climbing up.
All is not lost for the unlucky. Losers from the Champions Path are going to go to the Europa League playoff round. Those from the League Path can look forward to the Europa League group stage.
Champions League playoffs are going to play out between September 22 and 30. Furthermore, October 1 is when we can expect the group stage draw.