By Stanislav Hlaváček
A dramatic last-gasp header from substitute Pavol Staňo handed Slovakian outfit FC Artmedia Bratislava a sensational extra-time victory against FC Kairat Almaty to seal a UEFA Champions League second qualifying round date with Celtic FC.
Despite cancelling out Kairat's 2-0 first-leg advantage with goals from Balázs Borbély and Daniel Tchuř, Andrej Bogomolov's strike in the first minute of extra-time looked to have killed all hope for Artmedia, leaving the home side to score twice due to the away-goals rule. Ján Kozák made it 3-3 from the penalty-spot before Staňo stooped to seal an astonishing win in added time.
The result was a remarkable turnaround for the Slovakian Superleague champions, who had looked so disappointing when goals from Arturas Fomenko and Vitaliy Artemov gave the Kazakh outfit a healthy advantage after the tie's first instalment. The side soon found their bearings in the unfamiliar surroundings of Senec - to where the game had been switched in order to meet UEFA regulations.
Captain Borbély headed in to reduce the aggregate deficit after just 21 minutes as Kairat struggled to escape the confines of their own half. They defended resolutely, however, and it was not until seven minutes after the interval that Czech midfielder Tchuř levelled matters. That goal finally forced the visitors out of their shell and goalkeeper Juraj Cobej had to be at his best to force extra time.
Cobej was beaten by Bogomolov within the first 60 seconds of the restart though, and although Kozák made it 3-3 from the penalty spot three minutes later after an Andrian Sosnovschi handball, Artmedia looked to be heading out of the competition. But with the final whistle fast approaching, the combative Branislav Fodrek hit a long ball that Staňo converted to seal a dramatic win.
The Slovakian competition debutants will have just a week to recover before 1967 European Champion Clubs' Cup winners Celtic, and Slovakia national-team captain Stanislav Varga, arrive for the second qualifying round first leg.
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