Celtic, Porto, Monaco reach Champions League

Madrid, Aug. 24, (GNA/dpa) – Celtic, Porto and
Monaco qualified for the Champions League in Tuesday’s play-offs, along with
Legia Warsaw and Ludogorets.

Celtic lost 2-0 at Hapoel Beer Sheva but
sneaked through on a tight 5-4 aggregate, having won last week’s first leg 5-2
at home.

Hapoel dominated from start to finish against
jittery Celtic but made a poor start when Maharan Radi had an early penalty
saved by Celtic keeper Craig Gordon.

Even so, goals from Ben Sahar and Ovidiu Hoban
left the Israelis just one goal away from a miracle, but Celtic just managed to
go through by playing out time.

“It was probably the longest 90 mins I’ve
faced as a coach,” Celtic coach Brendan Rodgers said.

“I thought Beer Sheva were outstanding,
they had nothing to lose. But I have to congratulate my players because all the
work we’ve been doing in pre-season is based around that mentality. Tonight was
about resilience.

“It was an amazing effort from the
players on the back of what they’ve been through before. I’m immensely
proud.”

Meanwhile, Hapoel’s Sahar said: “This was
very cruel for us.

“We did almost everything right tonight
but we were still one goal short.”

Meanwhile, Porto turned in the performance of
the night to win 3-0 at woeful Roma – who had Daniele De Rossi and Emerson sent
off – and cruised through on a 4-1 aggregate.

Felipe, who scored a clumsy own goal in the
first leg, made amends by scoring an early goal for Porto in Rome, then strikes
from Miguel Layun and Jesus Corona finished off the job as the Italians lost
their discipline.

“This was a wonderful effort from
us,” Porto’s veteran goalkeeper Iker Casillas said.

“To win here in Italy is never easy …
The sendings-off certainly helped us, but we still had to score the
goals.”

Monaco went through 3-1 against Villarreal,
with a 1-0 win in Monte Carlo, on a late goal from Fabinho.

“We knew that tonight’s game was going to
be difficult for us, after losing the home leg,” Villarreal coach Fran
Escriba said.

“We fought very hard, but we just
couldn’t get the away goal that would have put us back in the reckoning.”

Legia also qualified 3-1, against Dundalk,
with a 1-1 draw at home to the Irishmen.

Robbie Benson gave Dundalk hope with an early
away goal then Legia had Adam Hlousek sent off. However, the Poles killed off
Dundalk’s hopes of forcing extra with a goal from Michal Kucharczyk in the very
last minute.

Elsewhere, Ludogorets went through on a
comfortable 4-2 aggregate against Viktoria Plzen with a 2-2 draw in the Czech
Republic.

The other five play-offs will conclude
Wednesday, with Borussia Moenchengladbach defending a 3-1 lead against Young
Boys and with Manchester City set fair for a peaceful night after winning 5-0
at Steaua Bucharest last week.

GNA

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