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Gefle comeback tops bill on night of surprises

The UEFA Europa League second qualifying round provided real drama as Gefle IF overturned a 3-0 first-leg deficit, and FC Differdange 03 and Breidablik pulled off big shocks.

UEFA Europa League second qualifying round second legs ©Pressball

Sweden's Gefle IF stole the headlines as the UEFA Europa League second qualifying round concluded with an outstanding comeback against Anorthosis Famagusta FC but they were not alone in celebrating famous victories as Luxembourg's FC Differdange 03 and Iceland's Breidablik struck blows for the continent's minnows.

Beaten 3-0 in the first leg by Anorthosis, Gefle scored twice through Jakob Orlov and Alexander Faltsetas but were still 3-2 behind on aggregate with five minutes to play. In a stunning 120-second sequence, however, Orlov hit Gefle's third in the 86th minute and home captain Mikael Dahlberg completed the turnaround to send his team into the third qualifying round for the first time where they will face Qarabağ FK.

Gefle were not the only Swedes celebrating as BK Häcken eliminated an AC Sparta Praha side who reached the last 32 of last season's competition. Having drawn 2-2 in Prague, Peter Gerhardsson's team finished Sparta off with a solitary goal six minutes from time by Martin Ericsson.

Compatriots Malmö FF had a more prolific night, hitting seven goals without reply at Hibernian FC's Easter Road – a venue where they had lost 6-0 in the old Inter-Cities Fairs Cup more than 40 years ago. Seven different players found the net as Hibs suffered their heaviest defeat in UEFA competition and the Swedish side, 9-0 winners overall, now face an attractive-looking tie against another British side, Swansea City AFC.

Differdange completed a 5-4 aggregate victory over FC Utrecht in dramatic fashion in one of the evening's other big surprises. Having won their first leg 2-1, they trailed 3-1 in the return – Jacob Mulenga hitting a hat-trick for the hosts – but battled back to 3-3 on the night through Geoffrey Franzoni (pen) and Yannick Bastos to stun the Eredivise side.

Breidablik earned their first away win in Europe to pull off their own shock, Ellert Hreinsson hitting the only goal on the counter at SK Sturm Graz and securing a 1-0 aggregate triumph while Georgia's FC Dila Gori kept their nerve to hold Aalborg BK 0-0 in Denmark and complete a 3-0 aggregate success.

Elsewhere, Shimon Abuhazira and Rayo each scored twice as Maccabi Haifa FC posted their biggest away win in UEFA competition, thumping Xäzär Länkäran FK 8-0 in Azerbaijan to complete a 10-0 aggregate hiding.

Another impressive away display came from Norway's Strømsgodset IF, handsome 3-0 winners in Hungary against Debreceni VSC to post a 5-2 aggregate success. Their compatriots Rosenborg BK, however, were held 1-1 at Saint Johnstone FC in Scotland, succumbing 2-1 on aggregate. Greece's Skoda Xanthi FC, meanwhile, won 2-1 at Northern Irish side Linfield FC after extra time to undo the damage of last week's 1-0 home first-leg loss, Marcelinho getting both goals.

Other away-goals winners were Czech side FC Slovan Liberec, who overturned a 2-1 first leg defeat against Skonto FC, and MŠK Žilina who came back to beat NK Olimpija Ljubljana.

Finally, it was not all good news for the Swedish sides. While Gefle, Häcken and Malmö advanced, former UEFA Cup winners IFK Göteborg went down 2-1 at AS Trencín. Nigerian forward Fanendo Adi hit both goals for the Slovakian outfit to earn them a first ever win in the competition.

UEFA Europa League third qualifying draw (1 August, 8 August)
FC Chornomorets Odesa (UKR) v FK Crvena Zvezda (SRB)
Swansea City AFC (ENG) v Malmö FF (SWE)
Sevilla FC (ESP) v FK Mladost Podgorica (MNE)
AS Saint-Étienne (FRA) v FC Milsami Orhei (MDA)
NK Široki Brijeg (BIH) v Udinese Calcio (ITA)
FC Petrolul Ploieşti (ROU) v Vitesse (NED)
HNK Hajduk Split (CRO) v FC Dila Gori (GEO)
FK Jablonec (CZE) v Strømsgodset TF (NOR)
FK Ventspils (LVA) v Maccabi Haifa FC (ISR)
FC Slovan Liberec (CZE) v FC Zürich (SUI)
FK Kukësi (ALB) v FC Metalurh Donetsk (UKR)
Qarabağ FK (AZE) v Gefle IF (SWE)
FC Dinamo Minsk (BLR) v Trabzonspor AŞ (TUR)
FC Aktobe (KAZ) v Breidablik (ISL)
CS Pandurii Lignitul Târgu Jiu (ROU) v Hapoel Tel-Aviv FC (ISR)
HNK Rijeka (CRO) v MŠK Žilina (SVK)
WKS Śląsk Wrocław (POL) v Club Brugge KV (BEL)
Randers FC (DEN) v FC Rubin Kazan (RUS)
Tromsø IL (NOR) v FC Differdange 03 (LUX)
Asteras Tripolis FC (GRE) v SK Rapid Wien (AUT)
AS Trenčín (SVK) v FC Astra (ROU)
VMFD Žalgiris (LTU) v KKS Lech Poznań (POL)
Motherwell FC (SCO) v FC Kuban Krasnodar (RUS)
PFC Botev Plovdiv (BUL) v VfB Stuttgart (GER)
GD Estoril-Praia (POR) v Hapoel Ramat Gan FC (ISR)
FK Vojvodina (SRB) v Bursaspor (TUR)
Skoda Xanthi FC (GRE) v R. Standard de Liège (BEL)
BK Häcken (SWE) v FC Thun (SUI)
FC Minsk (BLR) v Saint Johnstone FC (SCO)

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