Champions League: Celtic, Napoli Close to Qualifying into Group Stage

Champions League: Celtic, Napoli Close to Qualifying into Group Stage

Dries Mertens

In the second night of the Champions League playoffs first leg matches, Celtic looked convincing and have pretty much clinched their spot in the group stage, thrashing Astana in Glasgow. Napoli looked dominant in their win over Nice, but it might still be tricky heading into the French Riviera next week.

The Scottish champions beat Astana 5-0 to make the second leg in Kazakhstan a formality. Scott Sinclair scored twice after an own goal, followed by James Forrest and Leigh Griffiths finishing the job.

In the Sao Paolo in Southern Italy, Napoli couldn’t take advantage of two late red cards that the visitors received to make it more than a 2-0 win. Dries Mertens and a penalty scored by Jorginho should be enough for the second leg, but nothing is certain yet.

In Piraeus, Olympiakos didn’t look their best when hosting Rijeka from Croatia. The visitors took the lead through Heber, but Vadis Odjidja-Ofoe equalized and a 93rd minute strike by Alaixys Romao gave the Greek champions a narrow win which might not be enough.

Hapoel Be’er Sheva were another home side that came back after falling behind early. Maribor of Slovenia took the lead in the 10th minute through Marcos Tavares, but a super goal by Anthony Nwakaeme and a penalty kick scored by Shir Tzedek gave the Israeli champions the lead right before half time, although their possessions and chances didn’t give them a bigger cushion heading into the second leg.

In Turkey, Sevilla took a huge step forward with a 2-1 win over İstanbul Başakşehir. Goals from Sergio Escudero and Wissam Ben Yedder were enough to be the only team on the night to win away from home, and put themselves in an excellent position to finish in the group stage.

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