Debreceni VSC have qualified for the UEFA Champions League group stage for the first time after defeating PFC Levski Sofia 2-0 to add to their win over the Bulgarian titleholders last week.
Leading 2-1 from their play-off first leg, Debrecen took the tie truly by the scruff of the neck through József Varga's well-placed, side-footed strike after 13 minutes. Gergely Rudolf added a second before half-time to knock the stuffing out of the visitors and ensure Hungary's first UEFA Champions League representation since Ferencvárosi TC in 1995/96.
It was the away team that made the first impression when midfielder Georgi Sarmov struck the left upright in just the fifth minute with a fierce drive. That near-miss jolted Debrecen into action and they took the lead in splendid fashion soon after, Adamo Coulibaly teeing up Varga to curl the ball into the top corner from just outside the area. Levski forward Hristo Yovov then threatened with a free-kick before team-mate Georgi Hristov spurned a clear chance to equalise, dragging his shot wide after turning inside Ádám Komlósi on the edge of the box.
The action was swinging from one end to the other; Rudolf's long-distance effort flew just over for Debrecen before Hristov saw another shot creep just wide. Rudolf duly made Levski pay for their misses in the 35th minute when he let fly from distance, giving Georgi Petkov no chance as the ball raced into the top corner.
While the second half began slowly, that changed just after the hour mark. Tibor Dombi led a Debrecen counterattack, sliding in Varga, but the opening goalscorer could not add to his tally as Petkov denied him from a tight angle. With Levski in need of three goals, the match became stretched. Cédric Bardon drew an acrobatic save from home goalkeeper Vukašin Poleksić but the visitors' efforts were becoming increasingly forlorn and Debrecen held on easily to secure a 4-1 aggregate win and, with it, a maiden appearance among Europe's élite.
©UEFA.com 1998-2017. All rights reserved.