Sports News

Krasnodar, Salzburg edge closer to Champions League group stage

KRASNODAR, Russia (Reuters) - Krasnodar and Salzburg closed in on berths in the Champions League group stage after 2-1 wins in the first leg of the competition’s playoff round while Slavia Prague were held to a 0-0 home draw by Danes Midtjylland on Tuesday.

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Russian side Krasnodar ground out a comeback home win over Greeks PAOK Salonika, who missed a penalty, and Salzburg also came from behind to beat Maccabi Tel Aviv away after falling behind in the early stages.

Krasnodar goalkeeper Matvey Safonov saved a poor seventh-minute penalty from Dimitrios Pelkas but the PAOK forward made amends in the 32nd, steering in a low Andrija Zivkovic cross with a deft touch from close range.

The home side levelled seven minutes later after Frenchman Remy Cabella was fouled by Dimitrios Giannoulis in the area and Swede Viktor Claesson drove his penalty past goalkeeper Zivko Zivkovic.

PAOK missed a gilt-edged chance midway through the second half when Omar El Kaddouri hit the post and were punished in the 70th minute, as Cabella swept the ball into an empty net from three metres after a fine assist by Marcus Berg.

Winger Dan Biton fired Maccabi ahead in the ninth minute with a sublime finish and the home side were then forced to defend resolutely against dominant Salzburg.

Relentless pressure from the visitors paid off in the second half as Hungary midfielder Dominik Szoboszlai equalised with a 49th-minute penalty and had a hand in Salzburg’s winner netted by Masaya Okugawa eight minutes later.

Midtjylland matched more fancied Slavia in every department and always looked the more likely winners, with Sory Kaba missing their best chance when keeper Ondrej Kolar saved the striker’s close-range header.

The home side were fortunate not to concede an own-goal with the last kick of the game, as David Hovorka’s mis-kicked clearance struck Kolar in the head.

In Wednesday’s action, Hungarian champions Ferencvaros visit Norway’s Molde, Belgian side Gent are at home to Dynamo Kyiv and Olympiakos Piraeus entertain Cypriots Omonoia Nicosia.

Writing by Zoran Milosavljevic; Editing by Toby Davis