Porto dumped out, Ajax edge through on night of Champions League drama

Guardian sport on 13 August 2019

Porto were dumped out of the Champions League by Russian side Krasnodar on a dramatic night of qualifiers, with Ajax coming from behind to edge out PAOK Salonika on aggregate.

Sérgio Conceição’s side led 1-0 after the first leg in Russia, but Dutch midfielder Tonny Vilhena levelled the tie early on in Portugal, volleying home from a corner. Winger Shapi Suleymanov then struck twice, finishing counterattacks in clinical fashion to put Krasnodar in control of the tie at half-time.

Porto rallied in the second half, with Zé Luís and Luis Díaz pulling two goals back, but Krasnodar held on to progress to the final play-off round on away goals. They will now face Olympiacos, who overcame Istanbul Basaksehir 3-0 on aggregate.

It is only the second time since winning the trophy under José Mourinho in 2004 that Porto have failed to reach the Champions League group stages. Krasnodar did not even exist then – last season’s third-placed finishers in Russia were founded in 2008.

Last season’s semi-finalists Ajax were given a scare by Greek champions PAOK Salonika before squeezing through to the final qualifying round. After a 2-2 draw in the first leg, PAOK took the lead in Amsterdam through Diego Biseswar, a winger developed at Ajax’s academy, who fired inside the near post from 18 yards.

Dusan Tadic (No 10) celebrates with his Ajax teammates after scoring from the spot.
Dusan Tadic (No 10) celebrates with his Ajax teammates after scoring from the spot. Photograph: Soccrates Images/Getty Images

Dusan Tadic missed a penalty, but scored a second to bring Ajax level on the night, and ahead on away goals. Nicolás Tagliafico then scored a header with 10 minutes to go to put Ajax 4-3 up on aggregate, before a second Tadic penalty saw the hosts through despite Biseswar’s second goal in stoppage time.

Ajax will face Cyprus’s Apoel in the play-offs after they overturned a 2-1 first-leg deficit to defeat Qarabag with a 2-0 victory in Azerbaijan. Elsewhere, Club Brugge edged out Dynamo Kyiv after a frantic finale, the Belgian side prevailing 4-3 on aggregate after a 3-3 draw – with three goals coming in the last five minutes.

Champions path

Dinamo Zagreb v Rosenborg
CFR Cluj v Slavia Prague
Young Boys v Red Star Belgrade
Apoel Nicosia v Ajax

League path

LASK Linz v Club Brugge
Olympiacos v Krasnodar

First legs to be played 20-21 August; second legs 27-28 August 

Club Brugge will next play LASK Linz, who followed up a 2-1 away win over Basel with a 3-1 home victory. Kemal Ademi’s 80th-minute effort set up a nervous finish, but late goals from Thomas Goiginger and Marko Raguz secured the Austrians’ play-off place.

Celtic crashed out after losing 4-3 at home to CFR Cluj, who will face Slavia Prague next, while Rosenborg and Dinamo Zagreb set up a play-off tie with comfortable aggregate wins. Only one tie went to penalties – and the shootout didn’t disappoint, with Red Star Belgrade edging out Copenhagen 7-6 after 22 spot kicks.

Latest football headlines

Latest Football News