Football

Ajax Amsterdam, Red Star Belgrade seal Champions League play-off spots

Last season's Champions League semi-finalists Ajax Amsterdam reached this term's play-offs after seeing off visitors PAOK Thessaloniki 3-2 in a tense encounter to go through 5-4 on aggregate.

Two Dusan Tadic penalties, the second five minutes from time, and Nicolas Tagliafico's late header kept Erik ten Hag's side alive with a chance to relive their fairy-tale run during the last campaign, when they stunned the likes of Juventus to reach the last four.

Serb Tadic, who had already missed once from the spot for Ajax, slotted home the equaliser two minutes before the break after Diego Biseswar had silenced the Johan Cruyff Arena with a fine strike for PAOK midway through the half.

Tagliafico left the Greek side needing to score twice when he met Hakim Ziyech's 79th-minute corner with a powerful header, and shortly after Tadic sealed a play-off clash against APOEL Nicosia, despite Biseswar scoring a second in stoppage time.

APOEL will face the Dutch giants for a place in the group stage, which begins next month, after overturning a 2-1 deficit from the first leg with a 2-0 win at Qarabag.

Former European champions Porto and Celtic were both dumped out with shock home defeats by Krasnodar and CFR Cluj respectively.

The Scottish champions were sent into the Europa League play-off rounds 5-4 on aggregate, after losing a thrilling encounter 4-3 at Celtic Park.

Last season's quarter-finalists Porto found their 1-0 first-leg lead wiped out as Russian side Krasnodar scored three times in the first 34 minutes to take control of the tie before running out 3-2 winners to go through on the away goals' rule.

The Portuguese side pulled level 3-3 on aggregate in the second half, but could not find the winner, despite having 25 shots.

Red Star Belgrade squeaked through 7-6 on penalties after a shoot-out decided on the 19th spot-kick at FC Copenhagen, as the tie finished 1-1 on the night and 2-2 on aggregate. - AFP

Football