2017/2018 UEFA Champions League: John Ogu’s Be’er-Sheva misses out, Celtic, Sevilla, Napoli reach group stage

2017/2018 UEFA Champions League: John Ogu’s Be’er-Sheva misses out, Celtic, Sevilla, Napoli reach group stage

Slovenian champions, Nk Maribor are through to the group stage of the Champions League for the third time in their history after they defeated Israeli champions, Hapoel Beer-Sheva 1-0 in the second leg to progress on away goals, following a 2-2 aggregate draw.

Trailing 1-2 on aggregate from the first leg, Mitja Viler struck the decisive lone goal in the 15th minute to earn them a second-leg victory, and a place in the group stage for the third time in their history.

The away side started on the front foot, but it was Maribor who threatened first when Milec went close but missed the target with his effort in the 8th minute.

Six minutes later, Maribor threatened again, but Beer-Sheva were able to block Bohar’s shot, before they had an effort of their own also blocked at the other end, moments later.

However, Maribor finally found a breakthrough, when Viler powered them in front with a fierce effort past Haimov, following a brilliant piece of play by team mate, Ahmedi, who found his way to the byline before cutting back for Viler.

Two minutes after taking the lead, the home side almost doubled their advantage, but Ahmedi missed with his effort, as the hosts went into the break 1-0 to the good, and level 2-2 on aggregate.

After the restart, the game became evenly poised, as both teams tried to add to the score line, with Hapoel coming close on several occasions through Radi, and Melikson but the away goal they searched for remained elusive.

Beer-Sheva continued to probe the Maribor defence, however, but the home side were able to hold on, as they secured their passage to the group stage with a 2-2 aggregate score.

In the remaining CL playoff matches played across Europe, Scottish champions, Celtic survived a scare from Astana to book their place in the CL group stage with an 8-4 aggregate win, despite losing the second leg to 4-3.

Sevilla also booked their place in the group stage on a 4-3 aggregate win, after playing a 2-2 draw with Istanbul Basaksehir of Turkey in the second-leg tie in Spain.

Italian side, Napoli defeated OGC Nice 2-0 in France and 4-0 on aggregate to confirm their place in the CL group stage, while in Croatia, Olympiacos ended the dreams of Rijeka with a 1-3 aggregate win, after they picked up a 0-1 win the second leg to book their CL group stage place.

 

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