Va­len­cia, Shakhtar win 1st legs in CL play­offs


Va­len­cia is close to com­plet­ing its re­turn to the Cham­pi­ons League af­ter beat­ing Monaco 3-1 Wed­nes­day in their first leg play­off on a night full of late goals by teams fight­ing to reach the lu­cra­tive group stage of Europe’s top club com­pe­ti­tion.

Sofi­ane Feghouli led two-time for­mer fi­nal­ist Va­len­cia by as­sist­ing Ro­drigo Moreno’s opener and net­ting a third goal with four min­utes to play to put his Span­ish team in a strong po­si­tion to ad­vance.

Shakhtar Donetsk, mean­while, eased to a 1-0 win at Rapid Vi­enna, thanks to Mar­los’ goal just be­fore half­time.

But the night’s other three matches all had thrilling fin­ishes that kept their ties poised for next week’s sec­ond leg matches.

Celtic ended with a 3-2 win over Swedish side Malmo af­ter squan­der­ing a two-goal lead and let­ting Jo Inge Ber­get score twice, in­clud­ing a sec­ond goal late in in­jury time for the visi­tors. Leigh Grif­fiths got a brace for the Scot­tish hosts, in­clud- ing a 3rd-minute opener.

Di­namo Za­greb en­joyed a stop­page-time goal from Josip Pi­varic to com­plete its 2-1 come­back at Al­ba­nia’s Sk­ender­beu whose cap­tain Blendi Shkembi put his team ahead in the 37th be­fore El Arbi Soudani equal­ized in the 66th.

And Mac­cabi Tel Aviv’s Eran Za­havi net­ted his sec­ond of two goals six min­utes into added time to snatch a 2-2 draw at Basel, which lost Marc Janko to an ap­par­ent leg in­jury early. Breel Em­bolo had put Basel ahead 2-1 as late as the 88th.

Once a reg­u­lar, Va­len­cia hasn’t played in the Cham­pi­ons League for the past two sea­sons, and new owner Peter Lim charged his team with the goal of qual­i­fy­ing for the lu­cra­tive com­pe­ti­tion.

The side coached by Nuno Es- pir­ito Santo is now 90 min­utes away from meet­ing its goal.

“We started strong, but it was nor­mal that af­ter 15 to 20 min­utes we couldn’t keep up the pace,” Feghouli said. “But we con­trolled the match and we should feel con­fi­dent for the re­turn leg.”

Va­len­cia can also feel good about the promis­ing de­but of Aus­tralia goal­keeper Matthew Ryan, who made two key saves.

Feghouli pushed the at­tack from the right flank and slipped be­hind his de­fender to head Ri­cardo de Paul’s cross back for two un­marked team­mates wait­ing in the goal­mouth. Moreno beat Paco Al­cacer to the ball to tap it home for the fourth-minute opener.

Va­len­cia was with­out cen­ter back Ni­co­las Ota­mendi and re- place­ment Ruben Vezo’s clumsy clear­ance cost the hosts the lead.

Mario Pasalic lev­eled in the 49th when an off-bal­anced Vezo left An­thony Mar­tial’s cross for Pasalic to fire in.

But with Monaco press­ing, Dani Parejo volleyed in a cross knocked down by sub­sti­tute Pablo Pi­atti to make it 2-1.

Feghouli then blasted a re­bound through a crowded area in the 86th to give Va­len­cia a wider mar­gin to de­fend.


Celtic cap­tain Scott Brown, left, vies for the ball with Malmo’s Nikola Djur­dic, right, dur­ing their Cham­pi­ons League qual­i­fy­ing round, first leg soc­cer match be­tween Celtic and Malmo at Celtic Park, Glas­gow, Wed­nes­day, Aug. 19.

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