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Tecl strikes early to secure Plzeň progress

NK Maribor 0-1 FC Viktoria Plzeň (agg: 1-4)
Stanislav Tecl registered the only goal in Slovenia as Pavel Vrba's men cruised into the UEFA Champions League group stage for the second time.

Plzeň can celebrate qualification for another group-stage campaign
Plzeň can celebrate qualification for another group-stage campaign ©Getty Images

FC Viktoria Plzeň ensured their place in the UEFA Champions League group stage for the second time as a 1-0 away win guaranteed their progress past NK Maribor.

Already holding a significant advantage in the shape of a 3-1 first-leg lead, Pavel Vrba's men wasted no time in increasing it, Stanislav Tecl sweeping the ball into the net after three minutes. The Slovenian side did their best to beat visiting goalkeeper Matúš Kozáčik but could find no way back into the tie and must take the consolation of a UEFA Europa League place having fallen at the play-off stage for the second successive season.

Unfortunately for the hosts, any hope that Aleš Mejač's away goal in the Czech Republic had given them was swiftly erased. Pavel Horváth lofted a ball over the top which allowed František Rajtoral to lay off a first-time pass for Tecl, who shot low past Jasmin Handanovič from the penalty spot.

With three goals required to give themselves a chance, Ante Čačić's side had no choice but to attack and showed their intent when Agim Ibraimi and Tavares both shot off target. Kozáčik was then forced into a smart save from Aleš Mertelj's rocket of an effort from 25 metres.

The hosts' commitment to attack left gaps at the back which Plzeň came close to exploiting. Vladimír Darida was at the heart of things, driving over and having a powerful effort saved at the near post, before playing in Tecl, only for the forward to clear the crossbar with only the keeper to beat.

Plzeň seemed determined to put the tie beyond doubt after the break, and Handanovič knew little about Tecl's close-range volley which deflected to safety off the keeper's chest. At the other end, substitute Philippe Mendy rolled an effort across the face of goal, before a late flurry of activity in the visitors' box amounted to nothing, meaning Plzeň will repeat their 2011/12 group-stage adventure.

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