The prospect of a UEFA Champions League group stage place will move one step closer to reality for 13 more teams when the third qualifying round concludes on Wednesday, though three former UEFA competition winners have work to do to remain in contention.
Four-time European champions AFC Ajax, Celtic FC – victors in 1967 – and 2008 UEFA Cup winners FC Zenit St. Petersburg all face the possibility of a premature exit following the first-leg encounters on 27 and 28 July. Celtic are in the greatest danger after losing 3-0 in Portugal to competition debutants SC Braga, while Ajax need to score when they travel to Greek club PAOK FC having drawn 1-1 at the Amsterdam ArenA. Zenit host Romanian side FC Unirea Urziceni, group-stage participants last season, level at 0-0.
FK Partizan and FC Dynamo Kyiv can breathe more easily, however, after 3-0 home victories. The former all but ended the hopes of HJK Helsinki whereas Dynamo made it a night to forget for the competition's other new entrants, KAA Gent. Gent's fellow Belgians RSC Anderlecht saw off The New Saints FC 6-1 on aggregate on Tuesday, while FC Basel 1893 are also well placed to progress following a 2-0 victory at Debreceni VSC.
The seven other ties are more difficult to predict, with three of them – FC Salzburg-AC Omonia, MŠK Žilina-PFC Lovech and NK Dinamo Zagreb-FC Sheriff – tied at 1-1, and FC København-FC BATE Borisov goalless. Fenerbahçe SK also drew, at BSC Young Boys, but will be favourites to advance by virtue of two away goals. Elsewhere, Swedish champions AIK make the short trip to Norway's Rosenborg BK trailing 1-0, while AC Sparta Praha lead KKS Lech Poznań by the same scoreline. FK Aktobe were also 1-0 to the good after their first instalment but fell to a 3-2 aggregate defeat by Hapoel Tel-Aviv FC on Tuesday.
The play-off draw, in which AJ Auxerre, Sevilla FC, Tottenham Hotspur FC, UC Sampdoria and Werder Bremen await the winners of the five League Route ties, will be made on Friday. A full list of the clubs in the Champions Route and League Route can be found here.
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