Disappointed with themselves for not being able to qualify for Champions League for 10 years, Fenerbahçe now has to confine itself to competing in the Europa League group stages. The Yellow Canaries were eliminated by Benfica in the Champions League third qualifying round. Two-time European champions Benfica sealed a 2-1 aggregate victory over Fenerbahçe on Tuesday night. Securing the draw in the second leg, Benfica reached Champions League playoffs after the Portuguese side won the first leg 1-0 in Lisbon last week.
Benfica will face the Greek club PAOK in the next round, while Fenerbahçe will look for success in the Europa League. AEK Athens and PAOK Thessaloniki gave Greek football fans plenty to cheer about as both clubs reached the Champions League playoff round and joined three former winners of Europe's elite club competition on Tuesday. AEK beat 1967 champions Celtic 2-1 in a fervent atmosphere in Athens for a 3-2 aggregate win over the Scottish side while PAOK held out for a 0-0 draw at Spartak Moscow after edging the Russian outfit 3-2 in the first leg.
Red Star Belgrade, the 1991 champions, overpowered Spartak Trnava 2-1 away after extra time for a 3-2 overall victory over the Slovakian side. The outcome was a bitter blow for Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers while AEK will be relishing a two-legged clash with Hungarians Vidi FC for a berth in the lucrative group stage of the competition. Quick-fire first-half goals by striker Klaas Jan Huntelaar and defender Matthijs de Ligt put Ajax firmly in control against Standard and David Neres added the icing on the cake with a third shortly after the break. Belarus champions BATE Borisov face PSV Eindhoven after a 2-1 aggregate win over Azerbaijan's Qarabag while Dinamo Zagreb eased to a 3-0 overall rout of Kazakhs Astana for a clash with Young Boys Berne. The final qualifying round games will be played this week and next week. The first legs will be played on Aug. 21, with the return games on Aug. 28.
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