UEFA Champions League play-off scores: Benfica hold off PSV; Young Boys win thriller; Malmo advance – CBS Sports - Techy Hunters


Tuesday, August 24, 2021

UEFA Champions League play-off scores: Benfica hold off PSV; Young Boys win thriller; Malmo advance – CBS Sports

ANP Sport

Benfica, Young Boys and Malmo have booked their places in the Champions League group stage following a thrilling night of playoff matches in Europe on Tuesday that saw seven goals, two red cards and thrilling finales to all three games.

There are just three places left up for grabs in the group stages, all of which will be decided Wednesday. With losers of these six ties having to settle for Europa League football instead, the stakes could scarcely be higher so early in a season.

UCL play-off results and fixtures

Tuesday, Aug. 24
Champions Path
Ferencvaros (4) 2, Young Boys (5) 2
Ludogorets Razgrad (2) 2, Malmo (3) 1

League Path
PSV Eindhoven (1) 0, Benfica (2) 0

Wednesday, Aug. 25
Champions Path
Dinamo Zagreb (0) vs. Sheriff (3)
Red Bull Salzburg (2) vs. Brondby (1)

League Path
Monaco (0) vs. Shakhtar Donetsk (1)

Benfica hold out in Eindhoven

A fourth draw in as many visits to the Philips Stadion proved to be enough for Benfica to reach the Champions League group stage, Jorge Jesus’ 10 men holding out for a 0-0 draw that saw them beat PSV Eindhoven 2-1 on aggregate.

Chasing the goal they needed to take the tie to extra time — there will be no away goals rule in UEFA competitions starting from this season — it was no surprise that Dutch giants PSV dominated possession, territory and shots in the first half, particularly after Lucas Verissimo picked up two yellow cards in the space of just 32 minutes, the latter for a foul on the dangerous Cody Gakpo.

Noni Madueke went close twice soon after, first with a driving run infield from the right that saw a curling effort flash past Odysseas Vlachodimos’ far post. The Greek goalkeeper did well to parry a second effort inside the box, getting out quickly to close down Madueke’s angle to goal as the PSV forward attempted to bend the ball.

Though they were down to 10 men, Benfica defended impressively, introducing veteran center-back Jan Vertonghen in the second half as their task became more about holding onto their lead rather than attempting to extend it. Still Eran Zahavi should have done far, far better than hit the bar from close range after Gakpo squared for him. Following that miss PSV’s nice interplay always seemed to end with a defending body on hand to mop up anything that came into the box with most of the hosts’ best chances coming through long-range efforts by Ibrahima Sangare and Andre Ramlho. 

Yorbe Vertessen was twice denied by the excellent Vlachodimos, up on his feet quickly to parry the rebound after a powerful initial drive straight at him, whilst when Mario Gotze was fouled on the edge of the box early in the five minutes of added time the Eindhoven crowd began to hope that Zahavi might redeem himself only for his shot to deflect off the jumping wall.

Young Boys win thrilling tie

The best tie of the first leg fixtures picked up right where it had left off in an opening game that saw five outstanding goals, a red card for the winner and a penalty ruled out for encroachment. It was clumsy Ferencvaros defending that allowed Young Boys to double their aggregate lead following their win in Bern, Cedric Zesiger left unmarked in the penalty area to flick home Vincent Sierro’s corner.

The Hungarian champions had not lacked for attacking punch in the first leg and their early setback only brought a greater push for the hosts. Young Boys hardly looked like the sort of team who could control a game no matter their lead and their defense were guilty of ball watching when David van Balmoos flew out to Ryan Mmaee’s cross, palming it only into the path of Henry Wingo, the only player live to the bouncing ball. There was little if anything Van Balmoos or his defenders could do to stop the goal that brought the tie level, the outstanding Mmaee darting across to the near post where he scored the goal that leveled the tie.

The drama did not end with the half time interval. Young Boys seemed determined to make amends for letting their lead slip away, cutting Ferencvaros apart down the right before Meschack Elia crossed low for Christian Fassnacht to strike home the equalizer on the night.

If any period summed up this wonderful, barmy tie it was the 64th minute. Nicolas Moumi Ngamaleu’s burst down the left took him inside the box, a delicate chip from a tight angle crashing back off the post to Jordan Siebatcheu, who failed to turn into an empty net. Ferencvaros charged up the pitch but Aissa Laidouni was late to a 50-50 ball, receiving his second yellow card and making the home side’s task all the harder. Certainly Young Boys could not say they did not have their chances to kill off the tie as Siebatcheu saw a poor penalty saved comfortably by Denes Dibusz.

One could not help but sense that all those wasted opportunities might be punished by Ferencvaros but to the last this tie proved to be utterly unpredictable, Felix Mambimbi sneaking behind the defense before curling an excellent shot across Dibusz’s body, sending the Swiss side into the group stages for the first time in three years. David Wagner’s side are sure to be a thrilling watch whoever they are drawn against.

Malmo survive Ludogorets charge

Trailing 2-0 from the first leg, Ludogorets could scarcely ease themselves into the game but they did seem to be second best early on as their visitors looked to kill off the tie. However a goal against the run of play set the stage for an altogether more intriguing tie, captain Anton Nedyalkov meeting a corner to halve the deficit. Almost immediately it seemed Malmo had restored their two-goal aggregate lead when Soren Rieks converted in the 16th minute but VAR intervened after spotting an offside Anders Christiansen in the build up.

There was to be no reprieve for the hosts in Razgrad just before the interval, a 33-yard free kick from Veljko Birmancevic taking the slightest of deflections as it flew into the net, the second brilliant goal he has scored in this tie.

That might have been enough to kill off Ludogorets’ hopes but instead they went about their task with greater urgency still, pressing higher up in the second half in a bid to force a mistake from Malmo. It duly came just before the hour, VAR calling back play after a Christiansen chance to award the penalty that Pieros Sotiriou despatched.

Though Kiril Despodov went close late on Malmo just about managed to hold Ludogorets at arms’ length with the home side failing to register a shot on target after the penalty.

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