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Big names threatened with early exits

The third qualifying round ends this week with the threat of elimination hanging over Rangers FC and FC Dynamo Kyiv, and caution required by Panathinaikos FC and FC København.

Dynamo Kyiv lost 2-0 at home to Rubin
Dynamo Kyiv lost 2-0 at home to Rubin ©Getty Images

Some of Europe's most storied sides will need to dig deep this week to continue their UEFA Champions League campaigns, with the likes of Rangers FC and FC Dynamo Kyiv on dangerous ground as the third qualifying round reaches its climax.

The threat of elimination haunts Rangers after they fell 1-0 at Ibrox to Malmö FF, Daniel Larsson scoring the goal that leaves Ally McCoist's men obliged to triumph in Sweden to survive. The Glasgow giants will nonetheless travel having won for the first time under their new manager on Saturday, beating Saint Johnstone FC 2-0 − a morale boost denied Dynamo as they could only draw 0-0 at FC Metalurh Donetsk. The Ukrainian outfit must now overhaul a 2-0 deficit away to Russian hopefuls FC Rubin Kazan.

After reaching the round of 16 last term, Danish titleholders FC København hope to return the group stage this year but must beware a rallying effort from Shamrock Rovers FC in Dublin. A fourth-minute Sölvi Ottesen strike gave FCK the perfect start in the opening leg, yet with the match ending 1-0 their Irish counterparts will now be plotting an upset.

Group stage regulars Panathinaikos FC cannot breathe easily either after they drew 1-1 away against another Danish outfit, Odense BK. As for Norwegian powerhouses Rosenborg BK, they were stung by a 1-0 home loss to Czech debutants FC Viktoria Plzeň.

FK Partizan are another team in peril following their 2-1 away defeat by KRC Genk, a result which leaves the Belgian champions in a stronger position than their compatriots R. Standard de Liège. Les Rouches needed a last-minute Nacho González equaliser to rescue a 1-1 home draw with fellow 2009/10 group stage entrants FC Zürich.

More comfortable, on the other hand, are SL Benfica courtesy of their 2-0 triumph against Trabzonspor AŞ in Lisbon, a scoreline matched by FC Twente as they put themselves in command against Romanian contenders FC Vaslui. Wisła Kraków and NK Dinamo Zagreb will likewise feel well placed to reach the play-offs after they posted 2-1 successes at PFC Litex Lovech and HJK Helsinki respectively.

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