Ajax have qualified for the group stage of the Champions League after beating APOEL 2-0 on aggregate in the play-off round.

Edson Alvarez's close-range header set up a 2-0 victory on Wednesday at Johan Cruijff Arena and captain Dusan Tadic made sure with a fine goal 10 minutes from full-time.

Klaas-Jan Huntelaar had a goal ruled out for offside after a VAR check at 1-0, while moments later Andrija Pavlovic was denied an equaliser by the assistant's flag at the other end.

Ajax, semi-finalists last season under Erik ten Hag, knocked out PAOK to reach the play-off round and the Eredivisie champions will learn their fate in Thursday's group stage draw.

Slavia Prague are also in the hat after a second 1-0 victory in their tie against Cluj, Jan Boril scoring a second-half winner for the Czech champions.

Club Brugge complete the line-up after qualifying via a 3-1 aggregate win over Austrian side LASK, who had captain Gernot Trauner sent off in a 2-1 loss on Wednesday.

Goals from Hans Vanaken and Emmanuel Bonaventure Dennis either side of a Klauss penalty sent the Belgian team through.

Ajax held on for a goalless draw at Cypriot club APOEL in the first leg of their Champions League play-off on Tuesday after going down to 10 men.

Last season's Champions League semi-finalists named a strong starting XI that included several stars of their eye-catching 2018-19 campaign, such as David Neres, Hakim Ziyech and Donny van de Beek.

But they produced a lacklustre and ill-disciplined performance, earning seven yellow cards and one red for Noussair Mazraoui.

The Dutch side looked the better of the two teams in the first half, but their display was lacking the decisive touch in front of goal.

After the break, APOEL began to offer more of a threat themselves and went agonisingly close in the 58th minute, when Giorgos Merkis' header hit the crossbar.

Andre Onana was then forced to make a stunning save 11 minutes later, getting down to palm away a Lucas Souza effort that was destined for the bottom-right corner.

Things got even more testing for Ajax towards the end when Mazraoui was shown a second yellow card for a needlessly clumsy tackle from behind, but they held on nonetheless.

Ajax host APOEL in Amsterdam for the second leg next Wednesday.

In the day's other play-off clashes, Slavia Prague and Club Brugge claimed 1-0 away wins at Cluj and LASK, respectively.

 

Porto and Celtic crashed out in Champions League qualifying but last season's semi-finalists Ajax managed to advance to the play-off round.

It was a day of upsets as giants Porto and Celtic fell in the third round of qualifying following respective losses to Krasnodar and CFR Cluj.

Porto – who had featured in the Champions League group stage in each of the last three campaigns, including a run to last season's quarter-finals – were upstaged 3-2 by visiting Krasnodar on Tuesday.

Krasnodar blitzed Porto with a three-goal first half thanks to Magomed Suleymanov's brace as the Russian side prevailed on away goals after a 3-3 draw.

Scottish champions Celtic were denied a play-off berth by Cluj, whose 4-3 victory on the night in Glasgow secured a shock 5-4 success across two legs.

Celtic led the second leg 3-2 after 76 minutes but Billel Omrani and George Tucudean struck inside the final 10 minutes to silence Parkhead and give the Romanian outfit a memorable victory.

Captain Dusan Tadic was at the double as Erik ten Hag's Ajax held on to beat PAOK 3-2 in Amsterdam, where the Eredivisie holders escaped 5-4 on aggregate.

Tadic scored twice and missed a penalty as Ajax's hopes of repeating last season's remarkable Champions League run stayed alive amid uncertainty over the future of Real Madrid target Donny van de Beek.

In Copenhagen, 22 penalties were taken as Red Star Belgrade sensationally prevailed 7-6 in a dramatic shoot-out.

Penalties were required after the Copenhagen-Red Star tie ended 2-2 on aggregate following Tuesday's 1-1 stalemate at Telia Parken.

Elsewhere, Basel and Dynamo Kiev bowed out as LASK, Club Brugge, Dinamo Zagreb, Olympiacos, APOEL and Rosenborg progressed.

 

Champions League play-off ties:

CFR Cluj v Slavia Prague
APOEL v Ajax
LASK v Club Brugge
Dinamo Zagreb v Rosenborg
Young Boys v Red Star Belgrade
Olympiacos v Krasnodar

Ajax will meet either APOEL or Qarabag in the Champions League play-offs if they defeat PAOK in the third qualifying round.

Last season's semi-finalists will take on the champions of Cyprus or Azerbaijan in a two-legged tie if they overcome the 2018-19 Greek Super League winners.

Scottish champions Celtic will take on Slavia Prague if they make it through their third-round tie with CFR Cluj.

Porto or Krasnodar will face Istanbul Basaksehir or Olympiacos, while Basel or LASK will meet Club Brugge or Dynamo Kiev.

Swiss champions Young Boys await Red Star Belgrade or Copenhagen, and Dinamo Zagreb or Ferencvaros will play Maribor or Rosenborg.

The first legs of the third-round matches are on Tuesday and Wednesday, with the return games on August 13.

The play-off matches take place on August 20-21 and August 27-28.

 

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