Champions League play-off results: Celtic avoids scare, Napoli sees off Nice
Five teams realised their dreams of reaching the 2017-18 Champions League group stage on Tuesday, while the quintet who fell short in the second legs of the play-off phase will now test themselves in the Europa League.
Here, theScore runs through the goals and events of all five of Tuesday’s fixtures.
Astana 4-3 Celtic (4-8 aggregate)
Astana: Kristoffer Ajer – 26′ (own goal)
Celtic: Scott Sinclair – 33′
Astana: Serikzhan Muzhikov – 48′
Astana: Patrick Twumasi – 49′
Astana: Patrick Twumasi – 69′
Celtic: Olivier Ntcham – 79′
Celtic: Leigh Griffiths – 90′
An overwhelming advantage almost turned into disaster for Celtic, but despite losing the second leg, the Scottish champion managed to sneak past Astana and into the Champions League group stage with an 8-4 aggregate victory.
A path to the group stage was crystal clear before the Kazakhstan outfit jumped out to a 4-1 lead. But fears of an meltdown were allayed by a late Celtic charge to secure progression.
Maribor 1-0 Hapoel Beer-Sheva (2-2)
- Maribor: Mitja Viler – 15′
A crucial late save from Jasmin Handanovic – younger cousin of Inter Milan shot-stopper Samir – booked Maribor’s route into the Champions League group stages on away goals.
Hapoel Beer-Sheva had slightly more of the ball in Slovenia, but forwards Anthony Nwakaeme – a goalscorer in the previous encounter – and Mohammad Ghadir struggled to influence the game.
Maribor wound up last in Group G during the 2014-15 Champions League, when it finished below Chelsea, Schalke, and Sporting CP.
Nice 0-2 Napoli (0-4)
- Napoli: Jose Maria Callejon – 48′
- Napoli: Lorenzo Insigne – 89′
Mario Balotelli and Wesley Sneijder floundered as Nice limped to a 2-0 loss to Napoli at the Allianz Riviera.
Napoli – tipped by many as the team most likely to topple Juventus in Serie A – professionally overcame the Alpes-Maritimes club with second-half tallies helped by questionable defending from Maxime Le Marchand and Dante.
Nice will participate in the Europa League for the second consecutive term.
Rijeka 0-1 Olympiacos (1-3)
- Olympiacos: Marko Marin – 25′
Marko Marin, one of many players who drifted into obscurity through a series of loan spells while on Chelsea’s books, gave Olympiacos a valuable cushion in Rijeka with a neat, lifted finish.
Rijeka’s elimination at the play-off stage isn’t down to a want of trying, but Matjaz Kek’s ranks were wasteful with 12 attempts missing the target.
Sevilla 2-2 Istanbul Basaksehir (4-3)
- Istanbul Basaksehir: Eljero Elia – 17′
- Sevilla: Sergio Escudero – 52′
- Sevilla: Wissam Ben Yedder – 75′
- Istanbul Basaksehir: Edin Visca – 83′
Istanbul Basaksehir fell short of an historic Champions League adventure despite a spirited performance in Andalusia.
Equipped with former Premier League regulars Gael Clichy, Emre Belozoglu, and Emmanuel Adebayor, the Turkish minnow opened the scoring through standout Eljero Elia, and then responded to two Sevilla strikes with Edin Visca’s late equaliser.
But Basaksehir will compete in the Europa League in 2017-18 – not bad for a team that only returned to the Turkish Super Lig from the second tier in 2014.
(Photos courtesy: Action Images)