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Former finalists top second qualifying round bill

Eighty teams, 48 member associations and four former European finalists feature in Thursday's second qualifying round openers, one of the busiest nights in the UEFA calendar.

Fifty-five more teams enter the race to lift the trophy in the second qualifying round
Fifty-five more teams enter the race to lift the trophy in the second qualifying round ©Sportsfile

The UEFA Europa League second qualifying round will not be short on quality or quantity, with four former European finalists among those competing in the busiest single round of football in the UEFA calendar.

Fulham FC, beaten by Club Atlético de Madrid in the final of this competition two years ago, were the biggest draw in the first stage and, having safely negotiated their way past NSÍ Runavík, now face Crusaders FC from Northern Ireland. Crusaders' compatriots Glentoran FC are up against FC Vorskla Poltava from Ukraine.

Dundee United FC, 1987 UEFA Cup runners-up, travel east having been pitted against WKS Śląsk Wrocław. First Division runners-up last season, Wrocław will be hoping to fare better than Polish counterparts Jagiellonia Białystok, who were eliminated by FC Irtysh Pavlodar of Kazakhstan on Thursday. Irtysh can now look forward to pitting themselves against Georgia's FC Metalurgi Rustavi.

Indeed, it was a memorable night for Kazakhstan, with FC Shakhter Karagandy also progressing – at FC Koper's expense – to set up a tie against Dubliners St Patrick's Athletic FC. Elsewhere, 1975 UEFA Cup Winners' Cup runners-up Ferencvárosi TC continue their quest to reach the Bucharest showpiece against Aalesunds FK of Norway. Meanwhile, 1980/81 UEFA Cup Winners' Cup champions FC Dinamo Tbilisi - the only side in action to have won a major UEFA competition - visit Llanelli AFC in Wales.

There is recent European pedigree aplenty elsewhere in the round, with 2010/11 UEFA Champions League group stage entrants MŠK Žilina starting their new European season against KR Reykjavík from Iceland. Hungary's Anorthosis Famagusta FC, also in the UEFA Champions League proper three years ago, open up against FC Gagra of Georgia.

Other notable names include FC Salzburg – who travel to Latvia to play SK Liepājas Metalurgs – ten-time Moldovan champions FC Sheriff, up against FK Željezničar of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and FK Rad', full of confidence having racked up the biggest aggregate triumph at the first hurdle – 9-1 versus SP Tre Penne – and now facing Olympiacos Volou FC.

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