Continental debutants CS Pandurii Târgu Jiu, FC Astra and FK Kukësi will join the likes of FC Rubin Kazan, Sevilla FC and Udinese Calcio in the UEFA Europa League play-offs, with the clubs among the 29 victorious sides in the third qualifying round.
The team with the lowest ranking in the competition, Albania's Kukës, lost 1-0 at FC Metalurh Donetsk, but the result was not enough for the Ukrainian outfit to overturn a two-goal first-leg defeat. Meanwhile, Astra of Romania prevailed 5-3 on aggregate against AS Trencín, all four goals in the 2-2 second-leg draw coming in the final seven minutes.
Lithuania's VMFD Žalgiris registered an eye-catching away-goals success against KKS Lech Poznań as they made the play-offs for the first time, while Pandurii triumphed 2-1 on the night at Hapoel Tel-Aviv FC – group stage contenders last term – to maintain their unbeaten campaign.
AS Saint-Étienne, Rubin, Swansea City AFC, Sevilla and Udinese all brought substantial leads, which were never threatened, into their return legs. The Spanish side posted the pick of the night's results with a resounding 6-1 defeat of hosts FK Mladost Podgorica.
HNK Rijeka are in the play-offs for the first time after a draw in Slovakia closed out a 3-2 aggregate success against MŠK Žilina, while Georgia's FC Dila Gori will return to that stage for the second successive season having repeated last week's 1-0 win against HNK Hajduk Split.
FC Kuban Krasnodar and Estoril Praia wrapped up their first ties in European competition with 1-0 victories. R. Standard de Liège, WKS Śląsk Wrocław and VfB Stuttgart also progressed, though it was not easy for the latter, who edged through courtesy of away goals after a 0-0 home draw with PFC Botev Plovdiv.
Tournament top scorer Omar Er Rafik's sixth goal of the campaign helped Luxembourg's FC Differdange 03 take Tromsø IL to penalties, but the Norwegian side held their nerve to prevail. FC Minsk were another team to savour victory on spot kicks, having won 1-0 at Saint Johnstone FC.
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