Fulham, Roma, Gala impress
English Premier League Fulham reached the Europa League play-off round on Thursday where they were joined by free-scoring Roma and Galatasary.
Andrew Johnson scored twice to add to Dickson Etuhu's opener as Fulham saw off Vetra of Lithuania 3-0 for a 6-0 aggregate win in their third qualifying round, second leg clash at Craven Cottage. "We were good value for our three goals as we were in the first leg," said Fulham coach Roy Hodgson. "I am pleased with our attitude, pleased with the quality of our play and pleased with our passing."
Galatasaray of Turkey, coached by former Barcelona boss Frank Rijkaard, crushed Israel's Maccabi Netanya 6-1 for a 10-1 aggregate with Congo striker Shabani Nonda grabbing a hat-trick. Veteran striker Alessandro Totti, who scored twice in the first leg, also claimed a hat-trick as Roma beat Gent 7-1 in Belgium for a 10-2 aggregate.
Dejan Lekic was another hat-trick star as 1991 European champions Red Star Belgrade overturned a 2-0 first leg deficit to beat Georgia's Dinamo Tbilisi 5-2 on the night and 5-4 on aggregate. Lekic completed his hat-trick in the 88th minute, just when 1981 Cup Winners Cup champions Dinamo were in sight of an away goals victory. In a fiercely-contested tie, where the Georgians had led 4-1 on aggregate at one stage, both sides finished with ten men.
Scotland suffered a double dose of misery. Mark McGhee's Aberdeen, humiliated 5-1 at home by Sigma Olomouc in the first leg, slumped to a 3-0 defeat in the return tie in the Czech Republic for an embarrassing 8-1 aggregate exit. Tomas Janotka, Marek Kascak, with a penalty, and Michal Hubnik scored the goals in the first half. Steaua Bucharest, the 1986 European champions, defeated Motherwell 3-1 for a 6-1 aggregate win.
There will be no European adventure this season for 37-year-old former Celtic, Manchester United and Barcelona striker Henrik Larsson whose Helsingborgs side lost on penalties to Sarajevo. Larsson was forced to miss Thursday's tie after breaking a kneecap in the first leg in Sweden.
Big guns stumble
In other results, Spain's Athletic Bilbao avoided an embarrassing exit against Swiss side Young Boys sneaking through on away goals. The Spanish cup finalists lost the first leg 1-0 but Fernando Llorente and Iker Muniain put them on course in Berne, with Joetex Frimpong levelling the scores for the hosts late on but it was not enough. Dutch giants PSV Eindhoven also struggled with an own goal from Mamoutou Coulibaly giving them a 1-0 win over Bulgarians Cherno More for a 2-0 aggregate scoreline.
Irish minnows St Patrick's, who reached the UEFA Cup first round last season, again impressed on the European stage, this time edging past Krylya Sovetov on away goals. The Russians were in control at 3-0 up but two goals in the latter stages made it 3-3 on aggregate. Declan O'Brien, who scored the winner in the first leg last week, was the again the hero with the decisive goal. Fellow Irish club, Derry City fell just short, with a 1-1 draw with CSKA Sofia giving the Bulgarians a 2-1 victory in the tie.
Last season's semi-finalists Hamburg lost 1-0 to Randers, though the Germans comfortably progressed 4-1. Portugal's Braga were eliminated, losing 2-0 to Elfsborg of Sweden and 4-1 over the two legs. Israel's Hapoel Tel Aviv impressed with a 1-1 draw against Sweden's Gothenburg, allowing for a surprise 4-2 aggregate victory. Club Brugge edged past Finnish side Lahti 4-3, with Joseph Akpala scoring the all-important goal for the Belgians in their 1-1 second-leg draw.
Sturm Graz were untroubled after taking full advantage of their home match by trouncing FK Petrovac 5-0, but countrymen Rapid Vienna needed extra time to see off Cypriots APOP. Christopher Trimmel secured the decisive goal with nine minutes of extra time remaining. Austria Vienna made it a triple triumph, netting twice in the last ten minutes to progress 5-3 against Vojvodina after the Serbians had looked set to win on away goals.
Two goals from Alexander Frei helped Basle to a 3-1 win over KR Reykjavik after a draw in the first leg while Netherland's NAC Breda beat Polonia Warsaw 4-1 on aggregate. Legia Warsaw are also out after two goals from Max Von Schlebrugge gave Brondby the edge on away goals as the tie ended 3-3. Fellow Danish outfit Odense beat FYR Macedonia's Rabotnicki 3-0 in the second leg and 7-3 overall, while Slovakia's Zilina scored the only goal in their second leg against Hajduk Split to progress 2-1 on aggregate.
The 35 third qualifying round winners go into today's play-off draw where they will be joined by the 15 losers from the UEFA Champions League final qualifiers as well as 26 other leading sides which include the likes of Everton, Aston Villa, Werder Bremen, Valencia, Lazio and Ajax. The winners of the 38 play-off ties will be joined by the losers of the ten UEFA Champions League play-offs in the group stages of the tournament.