Well, 50% is alright, I suppose.
While most of the contests in the Champions League qualifiers still have everything to play for, there was a small bit of optimism that all four previously mentioned contests that were the “highlight” matches would pan out for both legs of the third round. Debrecen, however, couldn’t hang with Basel at home.
Then, of course, something crazy came over me last week, thinking that Celtic, on the road, would do well against Braga. Silly, silly me.
At least there were a few contests that still could tip either way in the second leg this week. Among those include:
Ajax 1 – 1 PAOK. Luis Suarez is tried to shake off his World Cup notoriety by scoring within the first fifteen minutes against the Greek outfit, then pressing continually through the opening hour, only to see it erased by Vladimir Ivic twenty minutes from time.
BSC Young Boys 2 – 2 Fenerbache. The Turks grabbed an early 1-0 and 2-1 advantage against the Swiss hosts, but after Kazim Kazim (continuing the trend of British failure this round) was sent off before the first half ended, it became a pressing issue for the hosts. While the Turkish defense seemed impenetrable, a late penalty let the Swiss champions back in, setting up a tense second leg in Istanbul.
Omonia Nicosia 1 – 1 Red Bull Salzburg. It looked to be all Salzburg as the Austrians went ahead within ten minutes and were cruising along, unlucky not to be two up before the end of the contest. That inability to kill off the tie might haunt them as a late penalty allowed Lomana Lualua to tie the contest in injury time.
Unirea Urzicheni 0 – 0 Zenit St. Petersburg and BATE Borisov 0 – 0 Copenhagen. Two nil-nil excursions don’t do the hosts any favors, but in keeping the visiting big boys off the score sheet gives them a shot at keeping a contest close enough that one goal might get them into the final qualifying round.
The second legs start today and continue Wednesday. First leg score is in parentheses.
Hapoel Tel-Aviv (0) v. (1) Aktobe
Anderlecht (3) v. (1) The New Saints
HJK Helsinki (0) v. (3) Partizan Belgrade
Zenit St. Petersburg (0) v. (0) Unirea Urzicheni
Copenhagen (0) v. (0) BATE Borisov
Zilina (1) v. (1) Liteks Lovech
Basel (2) v. (0) Debrecen
Dinamo Zagreb (1) v. (1) Sheriff Tiraspol
Lech Poznan (0) v. (1) Sparta Prague
Fenerbahce (2) v. (2) BSC Young Boys
K.A.A. Gent (0) v. (3) Dynamo Kyiv
Red Bull Salzburg (1) v. (1) Omonia Nicosia
Celtic (0) v. (3) Braga
PAOK (1) v. (1) Ajax
Rosenberg (1) v. (0) AIK