Shamrock Rovers FC, FK Rabotnicki and OFK Beograd earned dates with European footballing royalty as the UEFA Europa League second qualifying round concluded on Thursday night.
Article top media content
Shamrock Rovers FC, FK Rabotnicki and OFK Beograd will take on Juventus, Liverpool FC and Galatasaray AŞ in the UEFA Europa League third qualifying round after prevailing in nervy deciders on Thursday.
Juventus will head to Dublin next week to face Shamrock Rovers, who triumphed 1-0 against Bnei Yehuda Tel-Aviv FC in muggy conditions in Israel to win 2-1 over two legs. With goalkeeper Alan Mannus having kept the Irish side in contention at times, Thomas Stewart scored the only goal 20 minutes from the end, striking from close range after a flick-on from a long throw.
Manager Michael O'Neill said of the coming tie against the two-time European champions: "It's something wonderful for our fans and players to play against them at our home stadium and in Italy. Today, we knew to put pressure on at the right time and won this match in weather we are not really used to. We will try to do our best against Juventus too – and maybe the luck will be with us."
OFK earned a trip to Galatasaray on 29 July after a 1-0 victory over FC Torpedo Zhodino in Belarus secured a 3-2 aggregate success. Defender Ivan Kecojević made the Serbian team's day on 67 minutes, finishing after Nikola Simić had directed Veseljko Trivunović's cross into his path.
Rabotnicki from the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia had edged their first leg against FC Mika 1-0, despite being reduced to ten men before half-time. They showed similar resilience in holding out for a goalless draw in the return match in Armenia, so their next opponents will be Liverpool in Skopje.
"We played very bravely," coach Zoran Stratev told UEFA.com. "We gave everything and ensured that football fans in Skopje will see one of the best clubs next week. We are more than pleased. This is a great success for Rabotnicki and for Macedonian football. We know that even here Liverpool are 99% likely to win, but I promise we will do ourselves justice."
UEFA Europa League group stage contenders last term, FK Ventspils' dream of a repeat ended with a 3-1 loss at FK Teteks, whose progress gave FYROM even more reason for celebration. FK Austria Wien remain on course for a second successive tilt though: Bosnian-born Zlatko Junuzović scored from a free-kick on 80 minutes to seal a 1-0 success over compatriots NK Široki Brijeg – and 3-2 overall advantage – not long after Jürgen Baumgartlinger's dismissal threatened to send them towards elimination.
Elsewhere, Beşiktaş JK and Olympiacos FC marched on, with victories over GÍ/LÍF Víkingur and KS Besa smoothing their path to ties against FK Viktoria Plzeň and Maccabi Tel-Aviv FC. Wisła Kraków will be up against FK Qarabağ, and the Azerbaijani team will do well to watch Piotr and Paweł Brożek. The twin brothers had both scored in the second qualifying round first leg against KFK Šiauliai, and managed another goal apiece in the return, as Wisla won 5-0 on the night and 7-0 overall.
*second leg abandoned due to adverse weather conditions