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Koper come close but Dinamo cling on

FC Koper 3-0 NK Dinamo Zagreb (agg: 4-5)
The Slovenian titleholders fell just short of a remarkable comeback and their ten-man visitors now face FC Sheriff in the third qualifying round.

Captain Igor Bišćan was sent off but his Dinamo side still progressed
Captain Igor Bišćan was sent off but his Dinamo side still progressed ©Getty Images

FC Koper narrowly missed out on completing a sensational fightback after beating NK Dinamo Zagreb 3-0 only to bow out 5-4 on aggregate in their UEFA Champions League second qualifying round decider.

The Slovenian champions had gone down 5-1 in last week's first leg, prompting the retirement of 38-year-old captain Miran Pavlin, but went within a whisker of a remarkable turnaround on home soil. Enes Handanagič's 11th-minute opener initially looked like mere consolation but Ivica Guberac added a second and Mitja Brulc a third – via the penalty spot – after Dinamo captain Igor Bišćan's dismissal to make for a nervy closing 12 minutes for the visitors.

Home skipper Handanagič's header from a Amir Karič corner had given Koper a glimmer of hope which turned to genuine belief nine minutes after the break, half-time substitute Guberac repeating the trick from another Karič set-piece delivery from the right. Bišćan was then shown a straight red card for a foul on Enej Jelenič and Brulc converted from the ensuing spot kick.

There was to be no grandstand finish, though, as the Croatian titleholders hung on to book a third qualifying round tie with Moldovan counterparts FC Sheriff, who progressed courtesy of a 3-2 aggregate triumph over KS Dinamo Tirana.