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Ajax fails in qualifying; Arsenal, Valencia, Bremen advance in Champions League

Ajax fails in qualifying; Arsenal, Valencia, Bremen advance in Champions League

Four-time European champion Ajax failed to reach the European Champions League group stage for the second consecutive season, eliminated by Slavia Prague in qualifying.
Ajax lost 2-1 in Prague on Wednesday to two goals by Stanislav Vlcek and lost 3-1 on aggregate. Ajax lost to FC Copenhagen at the same qualifying stage last year.
Joining Slavia in Thursday's group stage draw were 2006 runner-up Arsenal, Valencia, Werder Bremen, former champions Steaua Bucharest and Benfica, Rosenborg, Ukraine clubs Shakhtar Donetsk and Dynamo Kiev and Turkey's Besiktas and Fenerbahce.
Celtic prevailed over Spartak Moscow 4-3 on penalty kicks after finishing 1-1 in Glasgow for a 2-2 aggregate score.
Five-time champion Liverpool, Italian club Lazio and Scotland's Rangers advanced in matches on Tuesday.
Two-time UEFA Cup champion Sevilla will play its second-leg, third-round qualifying match at AEK Athens on Monday. Tuesday's match was postponed after the death of Sevilla midfielder Antonio Puerta from a heart attack and the devastating forest fires in Greece.
Sevilla won the first leg 2-0.
Defending champion AC Milan, Manchester United, Real Madrid, FC Barcelona, Chelsea, Inter Milan and Stuttgart automatically qualified for the 32-team group stage.
Slavia won the first leg 1-0 in Amsterdam, and Vlcek scored in the 22nd and 86th minutes Wednesday, overwhelming the lone goal by Luis Suarez in the 33rd minute for Ajax.
It's the first time Slavia Prague has reached the Champions League group stage.
Ajax struggled in Prague despite scoring 12 goals in its first two Dutch league games.
Arsenal midfielder Tomas Rosicky scored against former club Sparta Prague in the seventh minute at Emirates stadium, converting a feed from Theo Walcott. Cesc Fabregas scored in the 82nd and Eduardo da Silva added a third in the 89th for a 5-0 aggregate score.
Werder Bremen beat Dinamo Zagreb 3-2 _ getting two penalty kicks from Diego and another goal from Boubacar Sanogo. The German club advanced with a 5-3 aggregate score over the Croatian champion, which received goals from Ognjen Vukojevic and Luka Modric.
Celtic needed penalties to get past Spartak after Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink hit the crossbar with a penalty kick in extra time. Celtic led on Scott McDonald's 27th-minute goal, but Roman Pavluchenko, who hit the post with a penalty kick in the 25th minute, equalized in the 45th to force extra time.
"We've seen a few great games here but that was just fantastic," Celtic manager Gordon Strachan said. "I felt we would win. I felt it was our time. Mentally we were strong and that helped us physically."
Spartak had defender Martin Stranzl sent off in the 85th for a tackle on Vennegoor of Hesselink. Celtic advanced after goalkeeper Artur Boruc saved Spartak's fifth penalty from Maxim Kalinichenko.
Steaua Bucharest, the 1986 champion, advanced on a 4-2 aggregate score after Dorel Zaharia and Adrian Neaga tallied in a 2-0 win against BATE Borisov of Belarus.
Shakhtar Donetsk advanced 3-2 on aggregate over Austrian club Salzburg after a 3-1 win in Ukraine.
Cristiano Lucarelli, Nery Alberto Castillo and Brandao each scored for Shakhtar, which lost the first leg 1-0.
Dynamo Kiev beat Sarajevo 3-0 to advance 4-0 on aggregate.
Isamel Bangoura opened the scoring from close range after three minutes, Bosnian defender Semjon Milosevic scored into his own goal, and Serhiy Rebrov converted a penalty kick in injury time.
Matias Emilio Delgado scored in the 56th and 64th minutes for Besiktas in a 2-0 win over FC Zurich. Besiktas reached the group stage for the first time in four seasons with the 3-1 aggregate win.
Another Istanbul club, Fenerbahce also advanced with a 2-0 win at Anderlecht in a match that was briefly interrupted by rowdy fans.
Mateja Kezman scored the first goal in the third minute and Alex de Souza added the other in the 77th.
Referee Massimo Busacca halted the match for five minutes in the 81st after about 50 Anderlecht supporters tried to push through a barricade to enter the field. Riot police also had to keep Fenerbache and Anderlecht fans apart after bottles and garbage was thrown between the two camps.
Valencia beat Swedish champion Elfsborg 2-1 to advance on a 5-1 aggregate.
Ivan Helguera gave the Spanish side a 1-0 lead in the fourth minute. Daniel Alexandersson equalized in the 31st, before Daniel Vila's winner in the 90th minute.
Benfica, champion in 1961 and 1962, beat FC Copenhagen 1-0 on Kostas Katsouranis's 18th-minute goal and advanced on 3-1 aggregate.
Norway's Rosenborg advanced 5-0 on aggregate with a 2-0 win over Tampere United of Finland off goals from Marek Sapara and Didier Konan Ya. The match was delayed nearly one hour because of a power failure at Lerkendal Stadium.


Updated : 2021-01-19 17:37 GMT+08:00