Hapoel Tel-Aviv FC, MŠK Žilina and SV Werder Bremen are among the clubs who will feel confident of reaching the group stage when the ten play-off ties come to a close next week.
Article top media content
The ten outstanding places in the UEFA Champions League group stage will be filled on Tuesday and Wednesday when the play-offs conclude, with Hapoel Tel-Aviv FC, MŠK Žilina and SV Werder Bremen all well placed to progress.
Žilina and Bremen had plenty to savour following the first leg of their ties after establishing two-goal leads, whereas Hapoel were 3-2 winners at FC Salzburg thanks in part to a penalty from goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama. Žilina made it six matches without defeat against Czech opposition when they triumphed 2-0 at AC Sparta Praha, a result which puts the Slovakian titleholders on the verge of a first appearance in the group stage of Europe's premier club competition.
Three to the good in added time, Bremen looked set to eclipse that winning margin at home to UC Sampdoria only for Giampaolo Pazzini to head an away goal for the Serie A club, giving Domenico Di Carlo's team renewed hope for the return in Genoa. Like the Blucerchiati, Salzburg require victory by at least two goals against Hapoel if they are to avoid being eliminated by an Israeli side at this stage for the second successive season.
FC Zenit St Petersburg – unbeaten in all competitions in 2010 – FC Basel 1893 and SC Braga, meanwhile, all have 1-0 leads to defend. Zenit have the edge on AJ Auxerre courtesy of Aleksandr Kerzhakov's header at the Petrovsky Stadium, while competition debutants Braga hold sway against Sevilla FC thanks to a header of their own, scored by Matheus. Basel would have travelled to FC Sheriff feeling more assured of their chances had Benjamin Huggel's late penalty not been saved, meaning the Tiraspol outfit have every reason to believe they can become the first Moldovan outfit to reach the coveted group stage.
Having been three goals down inside 28 minutes against BSC Young Boys, Tottenham Hotspur FC kept their hopes of advancing just about intact by reducing their arrears to 3-2 ahead of the decider in north London. Like Tottenham, FC København boosted their chances with a late away goal in a 2-1 defeat by Nordic rivals Rosenborg BK. RSC Anderlecht and FK Partizan reconvene in Belgium with their tie level at 2-2 following a four-goal flurry in 13 second-half minutes, while group stage regulars FC Dynamo Kyiv travel to AFC Ajax level at 1-1.