Hapoel Kiryat Shmona FC rubber-stamped their place in the UEFA Champions League play-offs after László Lencse emerged from the bench to snatch a last-gasp draw against Azerbaijani title holders Neftçi PFK.
Trailing 4-0 from the first leg, Neftçi showed enviable spirit and were good value for a draw. Julius Wobay and Cavid Imamverdiyev scored either side of Barak Badash's smart equaliser, before Lencse's added-time sucker punch denied the home side victory.
Neftçi made their intentions clear in the opening exchanges with a high-tempo approach. Forward Emin Mehdiyev was the catalyst, ghosting his way through Kiryat Shmona's massed ranks, before drilling a shot narrowly wide. Wobay came to the fore on 28 minutes, pick-pocketing Daniel Amos but failing to beat the sprawling goalkeeper. Not to be denied, Wobay found the net with a curling free-kick three minutes later.
The hosts refused to relent and were almost rewarded when Flavinho latched on to Mirhüseyin Seyidov's incisive pass but failed to beat Amos. The Brazilian was made to rue his profligacy when the competition debutants levelled five minutes after the restart. Adrian Rochet was the creator and Badash the grateful recipient, making no mistake from close range.
Tarlan Ahmadov's team responded with adventure as the cultured Flavihno forced Amos to make another commanding save, before turning provider for Nicolás Canales, who narrowly bypassed an inviting cross. Neftçi were ruthlessly efficient moments later, Imamverdiyev making no mistake with a powerful header, following Wobay's centre.
Heading for a morale-boosting victory, the home side became architects of their own downfall. A moment of hesitation from Saša Yunisoğlu gave Lencse a free run on goal and he found the net with aplomb. Neftçi will now compete in the UEFA Europa League play-offs.
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