Israel's Maccabi Haifa produced a remarkable comeback to beat Kazakhstan champions Aktobe Lento 4-3 on Tuesday and stay on course for a place among the European elite in the Champions League group stages. Maccabi trailed 3-0 at home after 15 minutes but goals from Yaniv Katan and Eyal Golasa before halftime and a second-half double from Vladimer Dvalishvili stunned the visitors. The narrow victory was enough to put the Israelis into the final playoff round with the first leg having finished goalless. A stoppage time own goal by Peter Wisgerhof proved costly for Dutch club Twente Enschede, managed by former England coach Steve McClaren, as they went out on away goals to Sporting. Twente had drawn 0-0 in Portugal last week despite having a man sent off and seemed to be heading for a narrow aggregate win after Douglas put them ahead early on. However, Sporting, who reached the knockout stage last season before being thrashed by Bayern Munich, got lucky five minutes into added time. Greek side Panathinaikos, who like Sporting also reached the last 16 last season, overturned a 3-1 first leg deficit against Czech club Sparta Prague, winning the second leg 3-0 in Athens. Belgian club Anderlecht, holding a 5-0 first leg advantage against Turkish league runners-up Sivasspor, suffered a scare in the return but went through after a 3-1 away defeat. Austrians FC Salzburg won 2-1 at Dinamo Zagreb for a 3-2 aggregate victory. On Wednesday, Scottish club Celtic will try and overturn a 1-0 home defeat by Dinamo Moscow as will Belarus side BATE Borisov against Latvian champions FK Ventspils. The play-off round includes the likes of Arsenal, Atletico Madrid and Fiorentina who were the fourth-placed finishers in the English, Spanish and Italian leagues respectively.
5 August 2009
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