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Wisła within sight after ousting Litex

Wisła Kraków 3-1 PFC Litex Lovech (agg: 5-2)
Maor Melikson took his tally to three goals in the tie as the Polish champions moved to within two games of a maiden group stage appearance.

Michael Lamey (left) thwarts Litex's advances
Michael Lamey (left) thwarts Litex's advances ©Cyfrasport

Maor Melikson was the scourge of PFC Litex Lovech for a second time as Wisła Kraków moved a step closer to a first appearance in the UEFA Champions League group stage.

Melikson scored the winner in the first leg of this third qualifying round tie last week and followed it up with a goal in each half in Poland, his second coming from the penalty spot 11 minutes after the break. Nikolay Bodurov replied for Litex but any hope of qualification was extinguished when Neboysha Yelenkovich was shown a straight red card 14 minutes from time. Substitute Cezary Wilk applied the coup de grace late on.

Defending a 2-1 lead, the Polish champions opted for a risk-free approach in the early stage, their only moment of concern coming when Plamen Nikolov's speculative effort narrowly cleared Sergei Pareiko's crossbar with the aid of a deflection.

Wisła's Tsvetan Genkov then passed up two chances in quick succession to score against his countrymen but the breakthrough was made four minutes before the break, Melikson exchanging passes with Patryk Małecki and firing past Vinícius.

The Litex goalkeeper then denied the same players after they had combined in reverse order, with Melikson in particular proving difficult to suppress. The Israeli international converted the spot kick which doubled Wisła's lead on the night after his 50-metre run had been halted by Vinícius.

Though Litex reduced their arrears through Bodurov, who pounced when Nikolov's free-kick struck Osman Chávez and fell kindly at his feet, the hosts added a third six minutes from time following the Litex captain's dismissal. Wilk was in the right place to turn in the loose ball after Vinícius had kept out Genkov's shot. Wisła's focus now turns to Friday's play-off draw, when they will discover who stands between them and a debut among Europe's elite.